The Friends of Sri Lanka Association was set up in 1987 at the request of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, A C S Hameed, to bring together Sri Lankans in the UK and British expatriates with Sri Lankan connections and to foster goodwill between our two countries. It was Shelton Perera, the first non-British partner of Farrer & Co., the Lincoln’s Inn law firm, who conceived the idea, and he who introduced it to the Foreign Minister and other colleagues and friends, taking care of the legal work involved in such a venture. Shelton had been a senior solicitor at the Colombo law firm, Julius and Creasy, before coming to London in the 1960s. In the years that followed he helped generations of Sri Lankans in Britain and took particular joy in introducing his colleagues and friends to those in Sri Lanka. The connections that were made then are a testimony not just to Shelton’s vision, but to that of our Association itself.
The Founding Chairman of the Friends of Sri Lanka Association was Sir John Nicholas (British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka (1979 – 1984), the Vice Chairman was Bill Farrer, Senior Partner at Farrer & Co., Jenny Smith (partner at Farrer & Co.) the Honorary Secretary and George Neale (a tea broker with Forbes & Walker in Colombo and Wilson Smithett in London) the Honorary Treasurer. Shelton Perera was a founder member of the Committee.
The newly fledged committee held its first meetings at the offices of Farrer & Co. in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and from there they instituted the newsletter and an annual dinner at the Royal Over-Seas League, of which Sir John was a member. From the outset they involved, amongst others, the relevant Members of Parliament in the Association. The Rt Hon the Lord Naseby and Sir Christopher Ondaatje, both of whom work tirelessly for the good of Sri Lanka, are our Patrons.
At the first annual general meeting of the Association on 10 June 1988 the objects and functions of the Association were formally set out as :-
- The objects of the Association, which shall be non-political, are to foster friendship, goodwill and understanding in all spheres of national life between the people of the United Kingdom and the people of Sri Lanka.
- The Association shall (inter alia) endeavour :-
- To maintain close unofficial contacts between the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
- To promote social activities including an annual dinner, receptions and regular meetings between persons interested in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans.
To contribute to the spread of knowledge of Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom.
Chairman: Sir Peter Heap KCMG
Vice Chair: Ms Linda Duffield CMG
Hon Secretary: Mr Vimal Perera
Hon Treasurer: Mrs Kulzum Prelis
Events Secretary: Miss Chamali Fernando
Membership Secretary: Mr Bruce Rawlings
WhatsApp Group Administrator: Mr Amal Abeyawardene
Newsletter Editors: Ms Sarah Callaghan and Mrs Sue Marsh
Non-Office Bearers: Lt Col Peter Cameron, Mr John Field, Mr Peter Gregory-Hood, Ms Ananthi Parskaralingam, Mr Ranil Perera.
A copy of the Constitution can be downloaded here.