News » UK Lanka Times Community Awards 2007 - WINNERS
Celebrating Sri Lankan Success in the UK! The Inaugural UKLanka Times Community Excellence Awards is widely hailed by the community
It was billed as the night to end all Sri Lankan nights; and the UKLanka Times Community Excellence Awards certainly didn’t disappoint on any level. Some 350 distinguished and glamorous members of the UK-based Sri Lankan community gathered at the picturesque Holiday Inn Brentford Lock in London on the 13th of October to celebrate perhaps the most significant Sri Lankan event ever to be held in the United Kingdom, celebrating Sri Lankan successes in this country and celebrating Sri Lanka.
The response of the community was overwhelming; after two years of organizing and preparations, the awards were held amid much fanfare, with winners and those gathered hailing the pioneering effort by this magazine and its’ parent company the Mike Cooke Group of companies.
The Awards were conceptualized some two years ago, at the launch of UKLanka Times magazine as a way of acknowledging and honouring Sri Lankan achievements in the United Kingdom. The UK-based Lankan Diaspora was first invited to nominate individuals and organizations in any of 8 different categories ranging from the Young Achiever of the Year Award to Outstanding Charity to Best Travel Services Provider of the Year.
The evening was graced by a glamorous cross section of Sri Lankan expatriates in the UK with the guest of honor, Sri Lankan World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga specially flown in from Sri Lanka for the occasion. The awards were also attended by the likes of Sir Desmond de Silva, QC, Jay Perera, Chairman of the UK-Sri Lanka Business Council, Jay Edirappuli, President of the Festival of Cricket, entertainer Desmond de Silva, Chamali Fernando, the Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate for London as well as Paul Sathianesan, Labour Councilor for East Ham.
The awards began with the Young Achiever of the Year category which was won by budding Sri Lankan musician Charith Abeysinghe. This award was followed by the outstanding charity award of the night which deservedly went to Guy's Mercy Mission UK; among the other categories on the night, Professional of the Year was won by Sir Desmond de Silva QC, Entrepreneur of the Year by Mr. Mahen Perera of Jubilee Generators; Best Legal Services Provider by Satha and Co of East Ham, Best Travel Services Provider by Duke's Court Travels and Media Organization of the Year by the latest Sri Lankan newspaper in the UK, Lanka Tribune. Best Restaurant, the most hotly contested category of the awards, was won by PA PA YA restaurant.
Three further special awards were handed out on the night as well; chosen by the editorial board of UKLanka Times magazine. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to an emotional Desmond de Silva, who entertained the crowd with his Baila classics later on in the evening; Sri Lankan of the Year was awarded to Sajith Premadasa for his yeomen work in Sri Lanka through the Jana Suwaya micro-financing program. The highlight of the evening however for most of those gathered was the winner of the Publisher's Special Award category which was won by Mr. Conal Austin, FRCS, the head surgeon of the Mercy Mission UK which travels to Sri Lanka annually to perform heart surgery on children suffering from congenital heart disease.
The event was hosted by Mr. Jean Marc Flambert, Director of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board in the UK and Mr. Vijitha Alles, the editor of UKLanka Times magazine with music provided by the excellent new Sri Lankan band in the UK who call themselves Exceed. Guests were overwhelmed by the positive nature of the event and plans are already afoot for an even bigger awards ceremony 12 months hence. Mr. Mike Cooke, Publisher of UKLanka Times magazine commented, “I am absolutely overwhelmed by the response that we have received. This will undoubtedly raise the profile of the Sri Lankan community in the UK. More importantly, if this event has resulted in the community raising its’ standards even by a minuscule amount, then I think we have succeeded in our endeavour. We have already had offers from several big name corporate sponsors looking to be a part of these awards for the next three years.” Complete Awards List: YOUNG ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR Winner – Charith Abeysinghe Finalists – Asitha Ameresekere, The Jayatunga Triplets, Antonio Laake OUTSTANDING CHARITY OF THE YEAR Winner – Guy’s Mercy Mission Finalists – Deaf and Blind Aid Sri Lanka, Hela Sarana, Gecko Sri Lanka ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR Winner – Mahen Perera Finalists – Anila Preston, Des Gunawardena, Priyantha Wijenaike PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR Winner – Sir Desmond de Silva QC Finalists – Dr Sunil Kariyakarawana, Mr. Conal Austin FRCS, Professor Chandra Wickremasinghe MEDIA ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR Winner – Lanka Tribune Finalists – Newslanka, Silvarrow, Lanka Viththie BEST RESTAURANT Winner – PA PA YA Restaurant Finalists – Meeting Palace, Sekara, Chennai Spice TRAVEL SERVICES PROVIDER Winner – Duke’s Court Travels Finalists – A-Lanka Travels, Glen Carriers, Carlton Leisure LEGAL SERVICES PROVIDER Winner – S Satha and Co Solicitors Finalists – Palis Solicitors, Anton Solicitors, Stanley and Co Solicitors