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December 15, 2017
Vernon Udugampola receives MBE
Mr. Vernon Udugampola, the Chairman of Sylvia Relief Foundation, who is 78 years old, but young at heart, recently received the MBE from HM, Queen Elizabet.

He has engaged in humanitarian work for more than twenty five years in UK and other parts of the World. The registered charity is small in terms of size but great in terms of its name, all due to dedication of Mr Udugampola who uses his own personnel funds making all things possible.

His sole aim is to participate in activities that help to build the spirit of community, considering humanity as a whole one entity. Even at this retiring age, he works full time in the city as an Administrative Officer but his weekends are fully dedicated to various charitable activities.

School days and studies
Mr Udugampola had a distinguished career during his school days with a number of prestigious prizes and certificates to his name. Apart from running, he was also an exceptional swimmer. In 1959, he won the Bronze and subsequently, went on to win the Silver and the Silver Cross for Life Saving from the Royal College of Life Saving Society of UK. Amongst the collection of his medals and trophies marking his accomplishments during his school time, there is a photograph of him receiving the best all round swimming trophy in 1960.

He obtained BA honours from Open University in UK and studied half way for a MA.

Sportsman and charity work
He has successfully completed marathons around the world, London, New York, Paris, Hamburg, Carpi and Rotterdam. In addition to full marathons, he completed hundreds of half marathons just to get that extra for his cause. He is always proud about the contributions he makes assiduously for the wellbeing of others. He participates in ten kilometres and half marathons on the assumption that the entry fee goes to local charity.

CHARITIES IN UK
These are some of the great causes he supported over the years by monthly direct debit mandates to help communities in the UK.

Cancer Research UK since it was originally known as Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1999.

Save the Children UK.

Gt. Ormond Street Hospital for Children UK.

Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre -Mt. Vernon Hospital, Northwood UK.

British Heart Foundation UK and became a CORE Supporter.

His own religious Institution in UK.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Diabetics UK

Ever since his wife was initially diagnosed with breast cancer sixteen years ago, he has been contributing monthly to British Cancer Research. His wife was treated at Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre but sadly passed away recently. This bereavement inspired him to raise funds for Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre.

Through his perseverance, commitment to relentless fund raising activities, he managed to provide a few life-saving chemotherapy machines to the children's ward in Maharagama Colombo Cancer Hospital. The machine saved thousands of lives, without these, many would have suffered fighting for very limited resources in the hospital.

DISASTERS
This is one of the aims of Sylvia International Relief Foundation. During disaster such as Tsunami, many lives were lost and many were orphaned in Sri Lanka. In one orphanage, in a village called Agunaclopalessa, down south of Sri Lanka, less fortunate area at that time, its roof and floor collapsed. He co-ordinated with a local charity Caring Hands of Sri Lanka and restored the premises of this orphanage with his personal funds without using funds of our charity. With this the children were able to resume their lives, even the little they had.

2001 - Tsunami Responded

He sent more than £500.00 worth of immediate requirements through charity Caring Hands of Sri Lanka.

2004 - Continued with aftermath of Tsunami and Cancer Research.

2006 - Responded to appeal made by Save the Children when Earthquake struck in Java in Indonesia.

22010 - Haiti Disaster in January through British Red Cross. Death toll was over 160,000.

2013 - Typhoon Haiyan destruction in Philippine through British Red Cross.

2014 - He ran three 10ks in various cities and raised funds for following:- British Heart Foundation UK, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Cambridge UK, Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre Northwood UK.

2015 - He successfully completed 2015 Virgin London Marathon in memory of his wife and proudly raised via Virgin money & Giving.com to following charities:- Cancer Research UK - £1,500.00, Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre UK - £1,500.00

Responded to Nepal Earth Quake disaster and funds were remitted through Save the Children UK, British Red Cross and Action Aid and Concern Worldwide, who are the partners of Disaster Emergency Committee.

Apart from previously mentioned monthly direct debit mandates to above institutions, he is an active supporter of Diabetics and Foot and Mouth Painters Artists.

He really enjoys annual calendar of Foot and Mouth Painters. They never forget his generosity and continue with communications over many years. Last year his mother in law passed away at a small Hospital close to Colombo. This was just ten miles away from Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka and he was dejected to find lack of basic facilities in this hospital. After attending the funeral his priority was to install a few toilets and to provide fans, nebulizers and a wheel chair to this hospital. His goal is to cover wide range of unfortunate events such as natural disasters, under privileged, the sick, education of deprived children and many that affect us human beings all around the world.

Education, Sponsorship and other welfare work

At present Mr. Udugampola sponsors three less fortunate children in Sri Lanka and a family of three children in Cambodia for their education and looking after their welfare. He has set up three direct debit mandates through his old bank account in Sri Lanka and sends sufficient funds to maintain the account for these purposes. They are from remote areas with less facilitates for English than urban children. These children are all under 12 years of age and two of them responded to him. Hopefully with his support, these children will get better education and come out of poverty in future.

He added Cambodia to his list after his recent visit to the Country. He listened to the pathetic situation of his tuck-tuck driver's plea and visited his home which is built on slits and learned that their kitchen is under water for half of the year. When it goes under water, they have to set up the kitchen upstairs in the sleeping area.

The driver of the tuck-tuck was fortunate enough to meet him for he offered his help to educate his three children and started sending funds regularly from his own funds without using the charity funds.

His tireless and continuous efforts help the sick and the poor in Sri Lanka. Three years ago he donated a very special wheel chair to a disabled child when he visited a disable hospital. This enabled the child to attend the school and enter into the community at large, without this, his life would have been a struggle for years, confined to his home.

Religious Work

He regularly contributions to a Buddhist temple in in Sri Lanka, in the village he grew up with his family. His personal donations made in memory of his parents had made a prominent difference to this temple. As mentioned above, he also has been contributing to his religious institution in the UK more than thirty years. This enables the spirit of Buddhist values to sustain in a world where religions are at a decline and violence in rise.

Alma Marter

He was President of his Alma Mater, Richmond College OBA in UK for several years. The school was a British Missionary School established 135 years ago and continue to be one of the leading schools in Sri Lanka. He was Vice President and President for a number of years. The funds raised in the UK via various activities goes directly to support the poor children in school and to improve the standard of the school by new technology and facilities.

OWN COMMUNITY AND OBLIGATIONS

He is also the Chairman of one of his own community societies known as Laksith Foundation which is a non-religions and non-political organisation. His house functions as office for meetings of these societies. No doubt he will continue with this great work until his strength would carry him. This society helps the people in the community to help each other in times of need, to assist in long term, illnesses, old age and support to the families during death.

He is very proud admirer of the Royal Family. He considers it was great honour and privilege to meet The Queen twice in his life. In the later part of 1981 The Queen visited Sri Lanka while he was in Protocol Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and he was highly involved in preparation work.

At the end of the tour his name too was recommended by the British High Commission in Sri Lanka to be honoured and he was honoured with a photograph of the royal wedding.

He had another opportunity meet the Queen at the Buckingham Place as a member of entourage of High Commissioner of Sri Lanka when High Commissioner presented his credential representing the country as attaché administration of the Sri Lanka High Commission in 1982. Now he looks forward to meeting her again in some other capacity if he luck permits.

He belongs to children of Thatcher's who believes minimal interference of State but strong, Church or religion in moderation, rewards efforts, free market, reduce government interference and the Monarch.

Raising funds and use of his personal funds where necessary for these noble causes demonstrates his concern about the community at large as well as the community once he belonged, Sri Lanka, UK and beyond. His contribution and the commitment to the communities in multiple fields are astounding. He is considered to be a luminary in various fields of life.
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