15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) – 11th May 2019

The 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Professional Sri Lankans in the UK (APSL), was held on Saturday 11th May 2019 at Grange City Hotel, Cooper’s Row, London, EC3N 2BQ.

Her Excellency Ms Manisha Gunasekara, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom, who is also the patron of the association graced the occasion along with Mr Senuja Samaraweera, Second Secretary (Commercial) at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

The meeting began by all attendees observing a two-minute silence to mark the tragic attacks in Srilanka during Easter weekend and to stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka during this difficult time.

The first session of the meeting began with the welcome address by the outgoing president of APSL, Mr Suraj Wijendra. He briefly outlined the excellent progress made during the year. Mr Wijendra was stepping down as the president after the completion of his two- year term, and he thanked the executive committee, all members and well-wishers who supported him during his tenure. He extended his fullest support to the incoming committee and to the association.

During the speech, he highlighted the importance of APSL working together with like-minded organizations on various humanitarian projects. Also, he mentioned the excellent progress made by APSL projects including scholarship scheme, cancer relief fund, solar village project and the impact of those projects. Especially he highlighted the importance of the recent partnership made with Foundation of Goodness (FOG), Sri Lanka.

Mr Wijendra’s address was followed by the reading of minutes of last AGM by the General Secretary, Dr Leshan Uggalla.

After the adoption of the minutes, Dr Leshan Uggalla presented the annual report for the year 2018 – 2019.

Summary of Annual Report 2018 – 2019

The year 2018-2019 has been a highly productive year for the APSL (Association of Professional Sri Lankans in the UK). In addition to organising several successful events, APSL carried out many projects for the benefit of the APSL members as well as for the Sri Lankan community in the United Kingdom and in Sri Lanka. This report provides a summary of the key activities carried out during the year 2018-2019.

Executive Committee Meetings

Three face-to-face executive committee meetings were held during the above period. All three meetings were held at the Sri Lankan High Commission premises in London.

  1. The first executive committee meeting was held on Saturday 07th July 2018. A review of APSL current project portfolio took place and several new projects were proposed.
  2. The second executive committee meeting was held on Saturday 17th November 2018. A review of the dinner dance event, migration to Microsoft 365 platform and the operational progress of the Solar village were discussed.
  3. The third executive committee meeting was held on Saturday 02nd February 2018. Having reviewed the progress of the entire project portfolio of the association, ex-co recommend not to initiate any new projects for the coming year, but to consolidate and strengthen the delivery of the existing projects. The proposed list of ex-co members for the year 2019-20 was also agreed.
  4. In addition, a significant number of conference calls were held during the year, attended by the entire executive committee as well as by project and event sub-committees.

Projects and Events

  1. 14th Annual General Meeting

The 14th AGM was held on 12th May 2018, at the Citadines Holborn – Covent Garden, London. The event was well attended by the members, their families and well-wishers. At the AGM, a new Executive Committee was elected for year 2018-2019. In the absence of any nominations for the AGM notice circuited prior to the AGM, the list of office bearers, nominated by the outgoing ex-co was elected and accordingly, Dr Leshan Uggalla was appointed as the new General Secretary. The Guest speech was delivered by Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran titled, ‘‘Reproductive Health and Rights of Women’’.

  1. APSL Ask the Professional Event

Ask the Professional event was held on 13th July 2018 at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London. The invited speakers for this particular event were Mr Kushil Gunasekera – Co-Founder of the ‘Foundation of Goodness’ and Dr Pujitha Silva – Biomedical engineer and Co-Author of ‘Rock Stars’. The event was well attended and very interactive.

  1. APSL Fundraising Dinner Dance

The fundraising Dinner Dance event to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the association was held on 22nd September 2018 in London, with the presence of a large gathering of members, their families and well-wisher. This year the event was dedicated to raise funds in aid of a Solar Village Project in Sri Lanka. The then acting Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Mr Sugeeshwara Gunarathne attended as the chief guest.

  1. Collaboration with Foundation of Goodness

A new partnership between the APSL in the UK and the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) in Sri Lanka was formed by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding. The two organizations will work collaboratively on charitable projects and fundraising ventures to benefit under-served communities in Sri Lanka while providing UK based donors with an opportunity to donate funds.

On 6th May 2019, APSL signed an agreement with FOG to outsource support and admin functions currently carried out in the UK. Based on the increased number of scholarships and other wide range of community projects, the executive committee has requested the support of a services coordinator based in Sri Lanka. FOG will provide a dedicated resource for Rs. 20,000 per month and all activities including scholarship, memberships, bookkeeping, project support and other admin work will be supported by this resource.

A Master service agreement and a data export agreement (in line with GDPR requirements) have been signed by the president Mr Suraj Wijendra and both agreements will come in to effect from 15th May 2019.

  1. APSL Scholarship Scheme

The Scheme launched back in 2014, to provide financial assistance to gifted but underprivileged schoolchildren in Sri Lanka, continued to grow during the year too, under the leadership of Mr Mervyn Silva and Prof Terrance Fernando.  Total number of scholarships now stands above 70. A fundraising dinner dance will be held in later this year as to celebrate the fifth anniversary of APSL Scholarship scheme. APSL is actively seeking donors to sign-up to help expand the scheme.

  1. APSL We SriLanka Solar Village Project

APSL with the help of FOG has identified and decided to commission the 3rd APSL Solar Powered Village Development project in Puthiya Nagar, Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka. The agreements were signed by Mr Suraj Wijendra, president of APSL and the Project lead Mr Gihantha Jayasinghe during their visit to SriLanka April 2019. APSL is investing 1.2 million Sri Lankan Rupees in this particular project and the 6 kW solar panels will be installed by J Lanka on the roof of the community centre building in Puthiya Nagar. The solar panels will be connected to the National Grid under the Net Plus system and the income generated from surplus electricity will be used by the village committee for their future development projects monitored by FOG/APSL.

This project also addresses the community rebuilding, reconciliation and sustainable developments needs of deserving communities. APSL Solar Village Project Team is led by Mr Gihantha Jayasinghe & Prof I M Dharmadasa.

  1. APSL Eastern Values Project

Building on the success of the previously held discussion series conducted at various locations in the UK including London, Birmingham and Manchester, a ‘Living in the UK’ event will be held later this year in London.  The project was centred on Eastern and Western values and the day-to-day experiences of Sri Lankans living in the UK and how well we blend into the system especially being second generation Sri Lankans. The team led by Mr Thushara Madurasinghe, Mr Rohan De Alwis and Dr Dulini Fernando.

  1. APSL Mentoring Project

This is one of the recent projects launched back in early 2018. The project aims to provide mentoring support to APSL members and non-members, based in the UK and in Sri Lanka, to develop their professional careers. APSL is actively looking for mentors and mentees to further develop this project.  Webcollect data management platform has been configured to enable interested members to support this project.  The project led by Mr Tariq Salih and Dr Mahesh De Silva.

  1. APSL Cancer Relief Project

The project aims to provide financial support for medical supplies, patient support services, infrastructure & awareness, to help cancer treatment in Sri Lanka. Proceeds from the 2017 dinner dance has provided the initial funding for this project and the fundraising events held in Cardiff back in 2017 and in 2018 organised by Dr Dilum Jayawickrama, Dr Anuradha Samarasinghe, Dr Thushara Hewage and Dr Leshan Uggalla helped to contribute significant amount to the fund by broadening the scale of help provided to Sri Lanka. Initially, the project was centred around Badulla general hospital and the nearby regions, in 2019 we have established two new centres in Batticaloa, with the help of Our Organisation (OO) and another one in Galle, Karapitiya. The project led by Dr Leshan Uggalla and Dr Dilrini De Silva.

  1. APSL University Engagement Project

This project aims to act as a conduit to transfer knowledge from APSL members directly to Sri Lankan university students, in particular with an emphasis on enhancing their employability skills. An event to cater the Sri Lankan students currently in the UK is planned on next month in coinciding with the APSL young professional event at the Sri Lankan High Commission.

  1. APSL Easter Sunday Appeal

On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers killed over 250 people and injured more than 500 at churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. Hundreds of families are currently in mourning. HELP SRI LANKA fund – APSL Easter Sunday Appeal was set up by APSL to facilitate Sri Lankans living around the world and friends of Sri Lanka to support the victims and their families to rebuild their lives and communities. Currently, we are exploring the possibility of using our existing projects and expertise in Sri Lanka to help these activities and working closely with the government institution and local networks to find the best way forward.

Continuing its tradition for many years, APSL had a stall at the “Festival of Cricket” event held on 08th July 2018 in London. APSL will continue to take part in this event which is a great platform for the APSL to showcase its activities to the general public and to sign up new members to the association.

APSL was invited by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to the second annual lecture in memory of Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana on 21th June 2018. Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana, who was one of our vice president during 2016-2017, suddenly passed away due to a traffic incident in London on 9 April 2017, aged 38 years. The second lecture titled ” Research on mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings – progress, gaps and opportunities “, was delivered by Prof. Bayard Roberts.  Dr Melanie Abbas gave a glowing tribute and a reflection of the work of Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana by remembering his time in IoPPN. Mr Leslie Dep, immediate past president of the association represented APSL at the event.

APSL has also taken steps to improve its membership data management by migrating to a GDPR compliant web-based software platform named Webcollect.  Leadership and guidance provided by APSL’s past president Mr Mervyn Silva in this regard is well appreciated. Migration into the fully digital system is now fully accomplished.

The annual report concludes on a very positive note to mention that APSL has been the recipient of a substantial donation of £ 85 000 given on behalf of the Florence De Silva Memorial trust. The final agreement entailing full details was signed on 11th May 2019. Our humble thank goes to Mrs Aruni Devika De Alwis, the executor of the Late Florence Cecilia De Silva (“Florence De Silva”) for the kind and thoughtful consideration to contribute towards the well-being of the less fortunate children in Sri Lanka.

Then the Treasurer Miss Buddhini Liyanage presented the Annual Statement of Accounts for the year 2018-2019, which was adopted as correct.

The election of the new executive committee for the year 2019-2020 followed next, and Mr Rohan De Alwis presided as the returning officer.

In the absence of any other nominations, the proposed list of nominees notified to the members were elected unanimously as the executive committee 2019-2020.

President Dr Mahesh De Silva
Vice Presidents Mr Thushara Madurasinghe & Mrs Gayani Senaratne
General Secretary Dr Leshan Uggalla
Membership Secretary Ms Gowri Dep
Treasurer Miss Buddhini Liyanage
Executive Committee Members Mr Suraj Wijendra (Immediate Past President)

Mr Leslie Dep

Dr Dilrini De Silva

Mr Sudantha De Silva

Dr Dulini Fernando

Prof Terrance Fernando

Mr Gihantha Jayasinghe

Mr Tariq Salih

Dr Anuaradha Samarasinghe

Dr Mohan Siriwardena

APSL Representatives in Sri Lanka Ms Paola Bethmage

Dr Roger Srivasan

Mr Merrill Fernando

Co-opted Senior Members Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran

Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy

Mr Rohan De Alwis

Prof I. M. Dharmadasa

Dr Marc Dissanayake     

Dr Andrew Nayagam

Mr Mervyn Silva

Dr Mahesh De Silva who was elected as the president of the association addressed the gathering and thanked the High Commissioner, Second Secretary (commercial), staff members of Sri Lankan high commission, all the APSL members and well-wishers, for the support given to the association. He also thanked the members for placing the confidence in him. He outlined his drafted programme for APSL and requested everyone to continue to support APSL.

Before ending the second session, an opportunity was given to the members to express their views and suggestions on matters related to APSL activities. It was a very fruitful discussion with many members coming up with very useful suggestions for the betterment of the Association in future.

The third and the final session of the day was the keynote address delivered by Her Excellency Ms Manisha Gunasekara, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom on the title “The role of professional Sri Lankans in the UK for a prosperous Sri Lanka”. Following this highly informative talk, a Q & A session was held, where several in the audience participated in a highly fruitful discussion. Mr Senuja Samaraweera, Second Secretary (Commercial) at the Sri Lankan High Commission also joined the discussion and provided an overview of the commercial mission to Sri Lanka.

The AGM concluded with the vote of thanks given by re-elected General Secretary Dr Leshan Uggalla. He thanked the high commissioner, the deputy high commissioner Mr Sugeeswara Gunarathna, Second Secretary (commercial),  Sri Lankan High Commission staff for attending and for their continued support.

He also thanked the invited guests of the AGM who attended representing organisations including Dr Jayantha Perera representing Hela Sarana, Mr Liyas Abdul Wahid and Mr Shakeer Nawas representing Council of Sri Lankan Muslim Organisations (COSMOS) UK and Dr Kantha Niranjan, Mr Sam Venugopal and Mr Bala representing Our Organisation.

Finally, he thanked the APSL executive committee, APSL members, family members and all those who attended the AGM to make it a great success.

The dedication and hard work by the respective project and event leaders, and the support given by the executive committee and members, was vital for the success of all the above projects and events during the past year.

Our thanks are also extended to Sesatha media organisation for providing wide publicity for our activities. APSL is also grateful to the various organisations who provided sponsorships for its events throughout the year.

It was a very successful 15th Annual General Meeting and we look forward to your support and participation in the coming year.

Please click here to view the 15th AGM Photo Album 

Dr Leshan Uggalla,

General Secretary

Association of Professional Sri Lankans in the UK (APSL UK)

UK Registered Charity No: 1145786