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April 16, 2018

BRISLA CELEBRATES COMMONWEALTH UNITY AT BIG LUNCHEON
British Sri Lankan Association (BRISLA) chairman Dr Zimar Sivardeen delivered a rousing speech celebrating the unity and diversity of the Commonwealth to distinguished guests at a big luncheon held in London last week.

The event, which took place at the Millennium Hotel in Knightsbridge on Wednesday 11 April, brought together senior figures to highlight the importance of the Commonwealth and discuss ways of tackling current and future challenges facing Commonwealth countries.

Those in attendance Included Wing Commander Mike Dudgeon OBE DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK, Mr Fergus Auld OBE, Head of South Asia Department and India Co-ordinator, Foreign and Commonwealth, Mr Zach Harkenrider, Counselor for Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy London, Brigadier Simon Banton OBE and former England cricketer Mike Gatting OBE.

In his speech, Dr Sivardeen said: 'BRISLA is focused on the urgent need to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path.'

'The Commonwealth advantage - with its shared values, regulatory framework and language – has the potential to increase trade within the Commonwealth, reducing business costs between member countries. Diversity plays a key part in innovation, creativity and divergent thoughts.'

Dr Sivardeen also emphasised the need to work together with young people to ensure their voices are heard on important Commonwealth issues and highlighted the important positive political, economic and societal contributions being made by women.

During the luncheon, Dr Sivardeen was honoured to sign the House of Commons Book of Tribute to former South African President, Nelson Mandela, joining the likes of leading political figures and celebrities including former President of the United States, Barack Obama and Paul McCartney.

The words written in the House of Commons Book of Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Dr Sivardeen were, 'His courage to sacrifice his own freedom for his people and country, and rewrite history, is one of the greatest triumphs of the century. In his honour, we must all remain dedicated to bringing people together to live in peace.'
H.E. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK
with Ms. Cathy McCleod MBE, Founder of Equality-based Community Support And Training (ECSAT)
Mark Jones host of the Commonwealth Big Luncheon
Mike Gatting OBE, former England cricket captain with Mrs. Lynn Stanier,
Founder of Their Future Today and Dr. Zimar Sivardeen, Chairman of BRISLA
Dr. Zimar Sivardeen with the House of Commons Book of Tribute
to former South African President, Nelson Mandela
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