Britain has noted that its bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka is unique.
The British High Commission in Colombo and the British Council celebrated Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 93rd Birthday at Westminster House, the British High Commission in Colombo said today.
Parliamentarians, representatives of the international community and civil society, and religious and business leaders attended the event.
Guests joined the British High Commissioner, James Dauris, and the British Council Country Director for Sri Lanka, Gill Caldicott, to celebrate the long friendship and many links that Sri Lanka and the UK enjoy.
The special theme of the reception was 70 years of the British Council’s presence in Sri Lanka. Since first opening a centre in Sri Lanka in 1949, the British Council has worked across the island to build connections between the people of the UK and Sri Lanka, representing the UK in all aspects of cultural relations, building relationships and opportunities.
The High Commissioner, speaking of the 70 year milestone and the unique bilateral relationship that the UK and Sri Lanka share, told guests:
“This evening gives us the opportunity to celebrate the many things that link us, link our countries and link our peoples, as friends. We have chosen today in particular to celebrate 70 years of having the British Council in Sri Lanka.
“Through its work in English, its libraries and the exams it organises, it supports personal growth and helps equip young Sri Lankans for the worlds of higher education and work.
“We celebrate the Council’s first 70 years in Sri Lanka tonight because it has done so much of which we can be proud. We look forward to its next 70 years confident that it will do so much more that we will have good reason to be proud of in the future.”
The High Commissioner also thanked the sponsors of the evening; London Stock Exchange Group, De La Rue, HSBC, Jaguar Land Rover, Pearson and Finlays. He commented that these companies’ stories of successful investment demonstrate the vibrancy of the commercial and business relationship that Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom enjoy today.
The High Commissioner ended his speech to guests looking to the future.
“I would like to end with a quotation I have used before from the speech The Queen gave during her second visit to Sri Lanka in October 1981:
“Britain and Sri Lanka have had a long association and stand together as equal, independent members of the Commonwealth. We may be geographically far apart, but we are friends and shall remain so.”
“As I come towards the end of my time as High Commissioner I look forward confident that, whatever the turns that Fortune may give her wheel, we will remain good friends.”
Commenting on the 70th anniversary, Ms Caldicott, said:
“We are proud of our contribution to UK-Sri Lanka relations over the past 70 years, and the opportunities for personal growth provided by our programmes in education and arts, our libraries, and our work in English and examinations across the country.
“Looking forward we are expanding our contribution to the Sri Lankan government priorities of education reform, social cohesion and reconciliation, and on developing skills for employability. We believe passionately in the rights of women and girls to take up their rightful place contributing fully to society. In all our work we use UK models and expertise, encouraging bilateral exchange to create conditions for a mutually beneficial relationship between our two countries.”