A farewell reception was
held at the Committee Room 9 in the British Houses of
Parliament, this week for Mr. Chaminda Kularatne, the
outgoing Diplomat of the Sri Lanka High Commission in
London. The reception was hosted by Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms,
(Labour) Member of Parliament for East Ham while Councillor
Lakmini Shah, Lead Member, East Ham, took the lead role in
organizing the event together with Tourism Promotion Officer
at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board in London, Nalin Perera.
This was the first time that a Sri Lankan diplomat has been
hosted to a sit down farewell reception at this historic
building which is considered as one of the oldest
representative assemblies in the world.
The well attended audience comprised of many London - based
diplomats and Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office
officials. Several representatives from London Consular
Corps of where Mr. Kularatne served as an Executive
Committee member were also present at the occasion. A large
cross- section of prominent Sri Lankan expatriates
representing all three major ethnicities in Sri Lanka were
also in attendance.Speaking at the event Rt. Hon. Stephen
Timms praised Mr. Kularatne's outstanding service to the Sri
Lankan community and stated that it is a privilege for him
to host this unique event. While paying tribute to
Kularatne's exceptional service which made a huge difference
within the community, MP Timms remarked that the farewell
reception organized by Councillor Lakmini Shah, is a fitting
tribute to Mr. Kularatne's dedication to the service.
Councillor Lakmini Shah Charing the event highly commended
the services rendered by Mr. Kularatne and extended her
profound thanks on behalf of the community in East Ham which
has a large number of Sri Lankans. "You are leaving a
lasting legacy and you made the job hard for your successor"
Councillor Shah said.
Tourism Promotion Officer, Nalin Perera, said Mr Kularatne
has touched the hearts of lots of people during his tenure
here in London and he helped people from all communities in
many ways. "He was not compelled to do it but he made it his
mission" said Nalin Perera.
It was a touching moment when representatives from all three
major ethnicities namely Mr. Anura Hegoda, Mr. Pradeep
Kandappa and Mr. Amjad Salim and Mrs Christina McDonald paid
their tribute to Mr. Kularatne for his remarkable service to
the community irrespective of their ethnicity. The presence
of a cross- section of Sri Lankan community of diverse
ethnicities in and around London reflected the outgoing
diplomat's untiring efforts in bringing together various
sections in the Diaspora in the UK forging bridges of
friendship amongst them, thus contributing to a healthy
relationship between the mission and the community.
Speaking at the event Mr. Bernand Silver, President of the
London Consular Corps conveyed his best wishes to the
outgoing diplomat and regarded him as "one of the best
person ever met" and praised his ability to solve problems
at any given time. He further thanked Kularatne for
arranging a visit to Sri Lanka for the members of the
Consular Corps and recalled the wonderful hospitality
accorded during the visit.
In his remarks, Dr. Chris Nonis, Sri Lanka's High
Commissioner to the UK, praised Mr. Kularatne's utmost
dedication to the service and commended the pivotal role
played by him within the Diaspora to build an inclusive and
pluralistic society. Referring to the consular mobile
services held in Crawley, Leicester and Manchester to
provide consular services to the Sri Lankan community which
was instrumental by Mr. Kularatne, High Commissioner said
that those occasions made ample opportunities for the High
Commission to extend its services to the community.
Mr. Kularatne in his farewell speech thanked MP Stephen
Timms and Councillor Lakmini Shah for graciously hosting the
event. He also expressed his special gratitude to Sri Lankan
community in the UK for their immense support, co-operation
and goodwill extended during his tenure. While acknowledging
comments made by the Speakers, Kularatne said, "It is for
others to judge my contribution towards my country, I leave
confident that I did my portion of duty". His contribution
was endorsed by the audience with
an overwhelming applause.
He particularly acknowledged the unwavering support given to
him by the High Commissioner Dr. Chris Nonis and staff to
make his tenure a success. He further took the opportunity
to recall with gratitude the former High Commissioner
Justice Nihal Jayasinghe and former Actg. High Commissioner
P.M. Amza of whom he had worked during his tenure.
The event was preceded by a number of farewell events by
various Sri Lankan Organizations for Mr. Kularatne whose
tenure at the High Commission comes to an end shortly.
Mr. Kularatne will be deeply missed in London and we wish
him all the very best.
On the panel - L to R - Mr Bernard Silva (President Consular
Corp UK), Mrs Christina McDonald (Wallend, Labour Party
Chairman), Mr Nalin Perera (Sri Lanka Tourism UK),
Councillor Lakmini Shah (Lead member for East Ham), His
Excellency Dr Chris Nonis (High Commissioner for Sri Lanka
in the UK), Mr Chaminda Kularatne (Minister Counsellor -
Consular and Immigration), Rt Hon. Stephen Timms (MP for