The High Commission of Sri Lanka in London organised a series of events to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Independence. The year 2023 also marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the UK.
On 2nd February 2023, High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena in partnership with Mr David Rose, Managing Director of Garment Services Group Ltd which has a long association with Sri Lanka for over four decades, hosted a luncheon at the Dorchester Hotel with the former Prime Minister of UK, David Cameron as the Guest of honour. The other guests included Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Sri Lanka; Lord Marland, Chairman Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and The Rt Hon Nigel Adams MP. Captains of British industry in partnership with Sri Lanka and President of Sri Lanka-UK Chamber of Commerce were also amongst the invitees. Addressing the gathering, Mr Cameron referred to Sri Lanka’s resilient spirit and potential to emerge out of adversity with the support of the friends in the international community. High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena in her remarks requested the guests to continue the trust UK has placed in Sri Lanka as a resilient destination for business.
On 3rd February 2023, Westminster Abbey, the coronation church of 39 British Monarchs since 1066, held the traditional Evensong in honour of Sri Lanka’s 75th Anniversary of Independence. During the service, blessings were bestowed on Sri Lanka, its leaders and people for peace, stability and prosperity. The Right Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon in Residence, gave the first lesson whilst the second lesson, the sixteenth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of gospel according to Matthew was delivered by High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena. Sri Lanka’s national flag was kept aloft the Westminster Abbey in honour of the Evensong. Staff of the High Commission and representatives of the British Sri Lankan community attended the service.
With the generous sponsorship of BoardPac Ltd & De La Rue, Lion Beer, Elephant House beverages, Munchee Biscuits, Basilur Tea, Baraka, Silver Mill, Wichy Plantation, Jenvas Ltd, Palmyra Development Board, Traccular, Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and Sri Lankan Airlines, the High Commission organised two events on 4th February and 8th February 2023 in the Chancery premises to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence.
The proceedings of the 4th of February programme commenced with the singing of the national anthem by children of the members of the Council of Muslim Organisations UK (COSMOS). Multifaith religious observances were performed by the respective religious leaders based in the UK. The national day messages of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry were read by the diplomatic officers of the Mission. The children of Muthuhara Rupavahini UK added colour to the event with two Sinhala songs. Two Bharatanatyam items were performed by students of Kalasagara UK. British Sri Lankans of all facets of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic participated at this event. Addressing the gathering, High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena invited the Sri Lankan community in the UK to contribute towards the development of the motherland in a manner that is mutually beneficial; to visit Sri Lanka, buy Sri Lankan export products & consider investing in the country that had provided the foundation for their success in the UK. The highlight of the programme was the SriLankan Airlines raffle draw. The lucky winner took away two return air tickets to Colombo. Upon conclusion of the official ceremony, the guests were treated to Sri Lankan food and beverage. A cross-section of the British Sri Lankan community including representatives of Sri Lankan Associations based in the UK attended the event.
The Right Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons was the Chief Guest at the reception organised by the High Commission on 8th February 2023. Members of the Houses of Parliament, Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, Heads of Missions and members of the Diplomatic community, representatives of the British business community and friends and well-wishers were amongst the invitees to celebrate this special occasion.
The guests were treated to Sri Lankan cuisine and beverages, Ceylon yard tea and Sri Lankan palmyrah products. The guests were also entertained by Ms. Roshani Abbey and Mr Nuwan Hugh Perera, artists of Sri Lankan heritage who are cast members of West End theatre productions of ‘Hamilton’, ‘Juliet’ ‘Amelie’ and ‘Life of Pi’. The highlight of the evening was the Sri Lankan Airlines raffle draw and the winner, Lord J.D. Waverley took away two return tickets to Colombo.
The events were used as platforms to promote Sri Lankan products, food and beverages as well as Sri Lanka as a tourism destination.
In addition to the events organised by the High Commission, a Ceylon Cinnamon promotion event was held the Art Gallery, London organised by the Friends of Sri Lanka Association with High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena, as the Chief Guest at the event. British nationals, representatives of the British Sri Lankan community, tea trade and travel and tourism sector participated at the event. The Sri Lankan Association of Bedford also organised Independence Day Commemoration on 4th February with the participation of the Mayor of Bedford.
High Commission of Sri Lanka
16 February 2023