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.
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