APSL Scholarship Scheme Launch

During the 10th anniversary celebrations held in June 2014, APSL announced its intention to establish a scholarship scheme to support bright but needy school children in Sri Lanka. Making that noble intention a reality the APSL Scholarship Scheme was launched on Saturday the 25th October, at the Grange City Hotel, London attended by APSL members, their families and well-wishers.

View scholarship-launch-photos

The proceedings started with the APSL president Mr Mervyn Silva welcoming the guests and giving an overview of the events leading up to the launch. The speaker of the day, was Professor Terrence Fernando, Director, THINKlab, Salford University who initiated the scholarship scheme.  He started his presentation by sharing his own life story with the audience. He referred to the influence others had on his formative years, such as his school experiences, teachers and friends. In explaining his own motivation to study, he described the impact he had in growing up in a family of seven children, the support and encouragement he received from his family, especially from his father. Together with what he described as ‘luck’, he has been able to reach his full potential and pursue a very successful career.

Prof. Fernando’s aim is to establish a vehicle for providing scholarships to gifted children from low income families in Sri Lanka.  It is based on his childhood experience in growing up in a low income family with friends from similar backgrounds.  The saying ‘Much is expected to whom much is given’ is what is motivating him to give something back to his home country of Sri Lanka, in the form of the scholarships. .

He believes that there are many Sri Lankans who have gone through a similar experience like himself and understands the need for supporting children who have the potential to become future leaders and contribute to the society with their knowledge and skills.  He would like to see it being developed into a sustainable scheme so that it can continue to grow over time by attracting funds from like-minded individuals. He hopes the scholarship scheme will offer others like him in the UK and elsewhere the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children to reach their full potential through education.

APSLs vision is a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka, where Sri Lankans from across the world who have realised their true potential, help the future generations in turn help others to realise full potential.  Prof. Fernando identified with this vision and felt as a UK registered Charity with considerable experience and expertise in delivering relief and development aid, APSL was the right partner to work with in realising his vision. He remarked that this was the start of the journey and concluded by presenting APSL president with a cheque for £1000 as the initial sum to get the scheme started.

Five children had been selected with help from Prof. Fernando’s sister-in-law for the award of scholarships at the launch. The five children, two boys and three girls, and their families who were presented with a letter of confirmation of the support they will receive. They joined the proceedings from Sri Lanka over a Skype link and a very fruitful interaction between them and the audience took place.

On closure of the Skype call, scholarship committee member Ms. Buddhini Liyanage presented how the scheme would work in practice, monthly and yearly grant amounts and how individuals could support the scheme. To support her presentation a flyer was circulated among the audience, giving a basic introduction to the scheme.

Mervyn Silva then opened the floor to discussion and questions, and some very useful comments were made, with some promising avenues for sponsorship and a pledge to fund a child from one of the attendees.

The meeting ended with an air of excitement at the potential for creating wonderful opportunities by this scheme. APSL immediate past president Mr. Rohan de Alwis gave the vote of thanks.

A special thanks to the members of the scholarship committee: Mr. Mohan Siriwardena, Ms. Buddhini Liyanage, Mr. Thushara Madurasighe, Mr. Suraj Wijendra, Mr. Leslie Dep and Mr. Rohan de Alwis and General Secretary Dr. Mahesh de Silva for all their hard work leading up to the launch.

The second half of the event was a seminar on changes to UK pension regulations and the opportunities this offered.  This delivered by Helen Morris, Senior Financial Advisor, Holborn Assets – the sponsor of the day,  and Laurence Lancaster, Group Tax Counsel,  The Sovereign Group. Among other things it covered topics such as:

  • What budget changes are in April 2015 & how they can affect UK schemes
  • What are HMRC Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme
  • How pension Benefits are paid tax free
  • How 100% of the pension asset passed to your beneficiaries
  • Protection from further changes to UK pension legislation
  • IHT Liabilities

Those present raised many pertinent questions, at the end of the presentations, Mr Gihantha Jayasinghe thanked the speakers on behalf of the APSL.

Report by: Mervyn Silva, 12 November 2014

APSL 10th Anniversary Celebrations Report

APSL celebrated its 10th Anniversary in grand style with a Symposium followed by a Dinner Dance held at the Grange City Hotel, Tower Hill, London on 21st June 2014.

Celebrating the tenth anniversary in the United Kingdom for a Sri Lankan Association is a very significant event and therefore this year the APSL executive committee decided to allocate all the proceedings from this event to a selected project for alleviating the Chronic Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka.

Both events were well attended by the members, their families and well wishers.

The occasion was graced by the presence of Her Excellency Mrs Kshenuka Senewiratne, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs in Sri Lanka (a former Sri Lanka High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom and a past Patron of APSL) and His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis, the current High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom and the current Patron of the association.

Symposium – Achievements Sky is the Limit

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Mr Mervyn Silva (President, APSL) welcomed the attendees and moderated the Symposium with Dr Mahesh de Silva (General Secretary, APSL).

The Symposium  was addressed by the following three eminent Sri Lankan professionals who have reached extraordinary heights in their careers.

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Professor Terrance Fernando – Director of THINK lab at the University of Salford
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Professor Mrs. Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam – Consultant Vascular Surgeon, The General Infirmary, Leeds, Honorary Professor, Division of Surgery and International Services, University of London

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Professor Chnadra Wickramasinghe – An internationally renowned Astronomer and Honorary Professor and Director of the Buckingham centre of Astrology at the University of Buckingham.

In line with the theme of the Symposium the speakers gave highly inspirational accounts of how they were able to achieve such heights in their respective disciplines and the work they are currently engaged in their respective fields.

The interactive Q&A session at the end of the presentations gave the audience an opportunity to ask several questions in relation to their speeches.

During the Symposium the following APSL project Leaders also gave presentations on their respective projects outlining the work done so far and what is planned in the future.

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Mr. Rohan de Alwis (Immediate Past President) – “We Sri Lanka” . This project focuses on the reconciliation between the Sri Lankan communities living in the UK and Mr. De Alwis gave an account of the many events carried out under this project since the commencement of the project in 2010.

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Professor I M Dharmadasa (Past President) – “APSL Awards Scheme”. Professor Dharmadasa explained the two APSL Awards Scheme projects carried out in Sri Lanka by APSL to date; The essay competition on ‘How to develop Sri Lanka’ for school children and the competition for  proposals on the theme ‘converting green energy ideas into green products’.

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Mr Thushara Madurasinghe (Treasurer APSL) – “Eastern Values – Living in the UK”. Mr. Madurasinghe outlined the objectives of this project, where speeches targeted to second or third generation Sri Lankan children on how to lead a successful life in the UK while preserving the Sri Lankan culture and its values. He also gave a brief account of the events held to date mainly at the Birmingham Jethawana Buddhist Vihara.

Dinner Dance

The Symposium was followed by the highlight of the 10th Anniversary Celebrations, the grand Dinner Dance to the music of the most popular band in the UK – “Sky High”.

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The evening event began with the welcome address by APSL President Mr Mervyn Silva, who gave an account of the work carried out by APSL during the past ten years fulfilling the objectives of the association.

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Mr. Mervyn Silva’s speech was followed by the keynote address by Mrs Kshenuka Senewiratne. During her speech she thanked the APSL for inviting her for this important occasion and praised the work done by APSL over the past ten years for the benefit of the Sri Lankan community in the UK and also in Sri Lanka. She also mentioned APSL is unique in comparison to other organisations due to the diversity of the membership and the demonstration and maintenance of very high standard of professionalism in all its activities. She also gave an account of the development work undertaken by the current Sri Lankan government under the leadership of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka and requested APSL to join hands with the government’s development programmes in whatever way taking the country forward to the next decade as a developed country.

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His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis also addressed the gathering with his inimitable style and he also praised the good work done by the APSL for the benefit of the Sri Lankans here in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. Furthermore he expressed his continuous support to the association.

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Maintaining the theme of the event on supporting a project to alleviate the Chronic Disease in Sri Lanka, Mr Leslie Dep (Immediate Past General Secretary) gave a presentation on the current status of this disease, the projects which can help prevent this disease spreading further by providing purified water in the affected regions and how to support the people suffering from CKD and their families. CKD is a killer disease rapidly spreading among the farming communities in the districts of Anuradhapura, Medawachchiya and Vavuniya and requires immediate and effective assistance from everyone to completely eradicate this problem.

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A novel idea of a “Dutch Auction” conducted by Mr Ranjan Perera (a Vice President of APSL) was highly entertaining with the participation of everyone for raising significant amount of funds for the above cause. In addition, the raffle draw organised by Mrs Gayani Senaratne (Membership Secretary) was also successful raising  a record amount of funds.

The members and their guests were treated to a sumptuous authentic Sri Lankan dinner and special thanks go to “Sky High” for their beautiful lively music keeping everyone on toes until very late into the night.

  • APSL wishes to thank the following sponsors who supported our event by      providing adverts for the souvenir or raffle draw prices; Trico Freight, UK
  • Glen carriers, UK
  • Nandy and Co Solicitors, UK
  • Magna Arts, UK
  • Lewke Printers, UK
  • The Royal Calibre Group of Companies of Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom
  • John Keels Residential Projects (Private Ltd), Sri Lanka
  • Commercial Bank, Sri Lanka
  • Inforgrid Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka

We also wish to thank the following local media for publicising the event adverts.

  • Newslanka
  • Sesatha Web
  • SL Events Web
  • Serendib News
  • Lanka Times Web

With great pleasure we wish to offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to all those who attended both events and especially to Her Excellency Mrs Kshenuka Senewiratne who came all the way from Sri Lanka accepting our invitation to attend this event showing her admiration and  appreciation to APSL.  We also wish to offer our thanks to His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis for attending both events and for supporting APSL events over the years.

Finally many thanks to the 10th Anniversary organising committee lead by Dr Andrew Nayagam (Past President) ,Dr Mahesh de Silva (General Secretary) and Mr. Thushara Madurasinghe (Treasurer) for all the hard work carried out with the fullest corporation and support form all other members of the executive committee to make this event a very big success in achieving the main objective of the event.

Article prepared by Leslie Dep (Immediate Past General Secretary)

View Sysposium photos

View Dinner Dance photos

Ask the Accountant Event – 2

Suraj  and Lushani

It is unusual to start an article by stating that we were fortunate to listen to four excellent presentation by accounting, legal and management professionals, the event organised by the Association of Professional Sri Lankans(APSL) was held at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on the 18 Jan 2014 in our continuing “Ask the Expert” series.

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The first speaker Mr Suraj Wijendra gave an overview of the UK economy, with some crystal gazing into the future on topics such as signs of recovery, emerging trends and 2014 & beyond.
Suraj, graphically illustrated the trend of a declining manufacturing sector in the 70’s to an ever increasing service sector in the UK economy and provided an insight to the current UK debt, trends in employment, wages and inflation. He complimented his rational with an analysis of the housing market and the growth of retail sales via the internet.
Further, he concluded by stating that the UK will remain the fastest growing major European economy in 2014.

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Mr Rohan de Alwis a solicitor by profession, presented “Successful personal investing in Sri Lanka and the UK” and gave an insight into savings, surplus funds, with suggestions as to how to use extra cash to stay ahead of inflation.
Rohan’s presentation covered the topics of investments, how to invests, various methods of investing and the associated risks factors were explained and stressed the importance of retirement planning and ways to minimise your tax exposure with a poignant reminder that death and tax are two things you cannot avoid but taxes, with the right planning, can be minimised.

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The next speaker, Mr Thushara Madurasinghe gave an equally excellent presentation on “How to Budget & Manage Finances” with a simple suggestions to save £10000pa !!!, by tracking your expenses, the pros and cons of using credit cards, credit fitness and the importance of protecting your identify and emphasised the use of the internet to research websites such as Quidco for refunds on your purchases, ways to reduce the cost of rail tickets, energy and insurance bills to get the best discounts.

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Finally, our last speaker was Mrs Lushani Kodituwakku who gave a presentation on “Managing small and Medium Businesses” stressed the importance of three key areas ; understanding your business, how to survive the current market and raising finance & succession planning, with emphasis on knowing your customer with a clear vision of the end objectives and goals.

The meeting was extremely well attended with over 50 participants and was concluded with a lively Q&A session.

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Mr Ranjan Perera delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of the APSL President Mr Mervyn Silva and the executive committee.

4th APSL Convention

MaheshSecond APSL Research Symposium was held on Saturday 17th November 2012 at Double Tree Hilton Hotel, Sheffield.

The 4th APSL Convention-Research Symposium (APSL-RS 2012) Second APSL Research Symposium (APSL RS 2012) was held on Saturday 17th November2012 Double Tree by Hilton Sheffield Park Hotel in Sheffield
APSL RS 2012 provided a platform for UK based young Sri Lankan and international researchers to come together, share knowledge and start effective collaborations.
It was also an exciting opportunity for the delegates to learn about cutting -edge research and technologies.
Since its launch APSL -RS 2012 attracted significant interest from Sri Lankan researchers around the UK.
Following a comprehensive review process 19 papers were selected for presentations and posters giving attention to social and commercial benefits of the research projects.
APSL-RS 2012 host Prof.I. M.Dharmadasa welcomed the guests , while APSL President Mr. Rohan de Alwis introduced numerous projects in the UK and Sri Lanka and  events organised by APSL for the professional Sri Lankan  community in the UK.
The symposium consisted of three sessions.
1. Prof. Dharmadasa and Dr. Mahesh de Silva co -chaired session one on engineering and built environment research.
Prof.Dilanthi Amaratunga Head of the Centre for Disaster Resilience at the University of Salford, delivered a keynote speech entitled
‘Rebuilding for Resilience.’
Reconstructing Infrastructure in the North and East of Sri Lanka commenced session one.
Session one presentation topics included ‘Electroplating of semiconductor materials for photovoltaic and optoelectronic device applications’ by Obi Echendu,
Innovations in lightweight structures & electric propulsion in aviation by Asela Jayampathy, ,Process capability maturity modelling in the construction
industry’ by Mohan Siriwardena and ‘Satellite link availability enhancement by integration of time diversity in the 2nd generation Digital Video Broadcasting system for Satellite (DVB-S2)’ by Leshan Uggalla
2. The poster session (session two) which  included posters titled ‘ Challenges faced by the steel industry’ by Amal Karunathilaka
 ‘Development of ZnTe layers using electrochemical technique for applications in thin film solar cells’ by Fijay Fauzi,
 ‘Solar villages for sustainable development’ by Ajith Weerasinghe,, ‘Reducing the scarcity in mental health research from low and middle
income countries,  a success story from Sri Lanka’ by Chesmal Siriwardhana and ‘Reforming higher education to contribute to lifelong learning in the built environment’ by Mohan Siriwardena.
3 Dr. Andrew Nayagam, Consultant in Genitourinary Medicine at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust and Dr.Mahesh Nirmalan, Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at University of Manchester co -chaired session three on medical, biological sciences and chemistry research.
Dr. Mahesh Nirmalan delivered a keynote speech commencing session three.
Session three presentation topics included,  ‘Assessment of Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing of left behind family members of
international labour migrants: a national comparative study in Sri Lanka’ by Chesmal Siriwardhana,
‘Structural Insights into the Initiation of DNA Synthesis in Eukaryotic Replication’ by Rajika Perera,
 ‘Evolution of human conserved non -coding elements (CNEs)’ by Dilrini De Silva
and ‘Enhancement in Photoelectrochemical Properties of Microwave Treated Zn(OH) 2 , TiO 2  and Fe 2 O 3 Electrodes’ by Nirmal Peiris
At the end of each presentation delegates had the opportunity to ask questions and share their knowledge with the researchers.
After session three Prof. Dharmadasa launched his latest book ‘Advances in thin film solar cells’ and the attendees had an opportunity to win a copy of the book.
APSL President, Mr. Rohan de Alwis presented certificates to presenters appreciating their contribution to APSL RS 2012
The Symposium Chair, Dr. Mahesh de Silva thanked the special guests, keynote speakers, presenters and delegates
during his closing remarks and invited the delegates to join APSL to strengthen the association and expand its activities
The Social event, dinner and dance, followed, with a welcome address by APSL -RS 2012 host Prof. Dharmadasa
followed by an address by the APSL P resident Mr. Rohan de Alwis.
A message from His Excellency , Dr.Chris Nonis, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK was also read .
Dr.Nonis, was unable to attend the event due to a prior engagement.
Dr. Ruwan de Soyza conducted an interactive Sri Lankan musical experience following the dinner.
The presence of Mr.Bill Forbes, a veteran UK based Sri Lankan singer,was the surprise guest and highlight of the night.
A raffle draw was held organized by APSL executive committee member Mrs. Gayani Senaratne. Proceeds going to APSL projects in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Mohan Siriwardane, APSL Membership secretary, delivered the vote of thanks, including thanks to APSL
members Lal and Mangalika Jayawardane for their support in organizing the event ,and the evening closed by the singing of
 the national anthems of Sri Lanka and UK.

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