The Friends of Sri Lanka Association was set up at the request of Sri Lanka’s longest-serving foreign minister, the Late Abdul C.S. Hameed, to promote Sri Lanka and foster friendships among those who are passionate about Sri Lanka.
We are a diverse, non-political association whose members share a common interest – Sri Lanka. We are not a charity, although from time to time we do make donations to charities that help people in Sri Lanka.
Our membership includes former British foreign diplomats, expatriates and residents of Sri Lanka, British nationals who have lived or worked in Sri Lanka or just come to love the country as tourists. Our Chairman is Sir Peter Heap KCMG.
We organise several events each year, the majority of which are held in and around London. Please visit our Events Page for more details of recent and planned events. Our two regular annual events are the Annual General Meeting, held at the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London and our Annual Lunch.
The former is always very well attended and, after the formal process of the meeting, the High Commissioner usually hosts a cocktail party for members and their guests. The latter is held in London in the autumn. For over a decade, the Annual Lunch was held at the Rifles Club (which sadly closed). Then we moved to the beautiful and prestigious London Scottish Regiment Club in Westminster. This most popular event is free of speeches and any other formal process and is a good opportunity to meet up with friends old and new, to enjoy a splendid Sri Lankan rice and curry.
Typically our events are themed around Sri Lanka; with talks from authors inspired by Sri Lanka, to walking tours around London exploring the Ceylon tea trail or events focused on promoting trading relationships between Sri Lanka and the UK.
In July 2019, Rockland Distilleries sponsored our summer soirée, held in the garden of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London. The then Sri Lankan High Commissioner Ms Manisha Gunasekera (pictured below) addressed the audience about Sri Lanka's famous coconut whisky - arrack. Photocredit: Mr Aloka Prelis of @dream.adventure.repeat
In May 2016, British gemmologist, Stuart Pool, explained the process a stone undergoes from mine to market, showcasing a vast array of semi-precious stones mined and cut in Sri Lanka from rubies, spinels, catseyes, the famous padparadscha sapphire and many more. The then British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr James Dauris, also attended the event and met with some of our members.
In March 2017, members were shown round the beautiful Travellers Club in Pall Mall, so redolent of travellers and explorers, treated to afternoon tea and a tour of the iconic library, packed with the latest travel books and the very earliest. Amongst books on Sri Lanka, the Travellers Club is home to Robert Knox’s journal. Afterwards, Stan Medland took members on a walking tour of London popping into Lobb’s bootmakers where craftspeople sat at high tables making shoes in the same way they had done for centuries – one of the names in the order book was that of Sir Harry Dias Bandaranaike (1822 – 1901) the first Ceylonese barrister to be called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1848 and appointed the first Sinhalese Judge of the Supreme Court, in 1885.
Each quarter we publish a newsletter giving a detailed update of the political and economic climate in Sri Lanka, as well as news and information about events etc, that we think will be of interest to our members. Sample newsletters can be viewed here.
Membership is open to anybody with a love of Sri Lanka and a membership form can be downloaded from the website. While the form looks for a proposer and seconder, should anyone be interested in joining us but does not know a member, this is not usually a bar to entry; just show your links and interests in Sri Lanka on the form and joining us should be no problem.