Press Release by Capt. (Dr) Sena Nanayakkara(Retd)
Countdown of SLESPA-UK’s New Year’s Eve 2017 Celebrations 2017
The Sri Lankan, Ex-Service Persons Association (SLESPA)-UK held its annual New Year’s Eve Celebrations at the Novotel London Heathrow. It was a tremendous success and indeed a memorable event. All three service flags along with the SLESPA-UK flag and the table decor added colour to the lively ambience. Maj. Selva Sathananthan(retd) took the initiative to produce a colourful souvenir ably assisted by Kapila & Sena.
Capt. Mahen Abayasekera (retd) as the master of ceremonies (M/C) announced the arrival of the chief guest ( and his family) to a full house of members & visitors. The chief guest Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, was introduced to the executive committee of the SLESPA-UK & the organising team, by the president, Capt. (Dr) Sena Nanayakkara(retd). Mrs Chandrika Senanayake was offered a bouquet of flowers by Mrs Sarojini Nanayakkara while the president garlanded the chief guest on behalf of the Exec. Com & the members.
Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake was invited to light the traditional oil lamp followed by the president, Brig. Priyankara Fernando, defence Attache’, Capt. Mahen Abeysekera(retd) Secretary, Lt. Comd. Kapila De Alwis(retd)Vice President, Mr Aloysius Gnanapragasm(retd) the treasurer, Maj.Selva Sathananthan(retd) the legal secretary, immediate past president(IPP) Col. Pasan Kularatna(retd), Maj. Asoka Elapatha(retd) and Capt. Poopal Partheepan (retd), com members.
The president of the SLESPA- UK, Capt.(Dr) Sena Nanayakkara (retd) in his opening speech welcomed the Chief Guest and all the guests for their presence. He expressed gratitude to Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake for accepting the invitation to be present as our chief guest, in spite of his hectic commitments to our homeland. Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake’s attendance was the first time a serving Commander of the Sri Lanka Tri-Services had attended one of our special events in the UK.
The president then gave a brief resume of the main activities of the Association since its inauguration in 2009, which also highlighted the ongoing commitments to several worthy Charitable Projects in Sri Lanka, including the ‘Hisata Sevana’ Project which offers substantial assistance to deserving, severely disabled ex-service victims in Sri Lanka.
The chief guest Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake in his speech thanked the president and the Ex. Com. Members for giving him the opportunity to be the chief guest. He thanked all the service personnel ( officers & non-commissioned officers) who had continued to make exceptional contributions over many years to bring about peace and stability in the country. He explained briefly the planned future functioning of the Army to maintain and enhance combat efficiency and assist Government of Sri Lanka with the ongoing rehabilitation/reconciliation process. He was extremely impressed with the enthusiasm and ongoing efforts and activities of the SLESPA-UK, to raise funds for the worthy causes like ‘Hisata Sevana ‘ project. He wished the Association every success in their endeavour to provide substantial assistance to the deserving ex-service personnel in Sri Lanka.
All the guests, members, families and their friends enjoyed the sumptuous hot buffet Sri Lanka style meal, preceded by mouth-watering starters and followed with a choice of desserts. Plenty of refreshments including soft drinks, wine and Scotch whisky were provided free to all the guests to quench their thirst.
The enthusiastic crowd - young & old alike - filled the dance floor, thanks to the beautifully well selected rhythmic music played by the popular 8 member live band, The FrontLine. People flocked to the dance floor when the favourite live band played an almost non-stop session of Baila. The two Dhola drummers also kept the lively crowd entertained for almost half an hour and was a big hit.
In house auction of a return air ticket to Colombo –courtesy Sri Lankan AirLines combined with the week end offer(full board) for two at ‘Yala Safari’ resort, compliments- Sri Lankan Army was conducted by Capt. Mahen Abaysekera (retd) to raise funds for the charity project ‘Hisata Sevana’. The in-house raffle draws with fabulous prizes for nine lucky winners along with the entrance ticket lucky winner draw was conducted by Capt.(Dr) Sena Nanayakkara(retd) also to raise much-needed funds towards the same Project.
The count down to the dawn of the New Year 2018 was timed a few minutes before midnight with a big bang of lively music to enable all the guests to wish a happy and a prosperous New Year 2018. The celebrations continued until 2am, with the singing of the Sri Lankan and Great Britain National anthems bringing everything to a fitting finale. Traditional ‘Kiri Bath’ & ‘Lunu Miris’ was the final treat for all guests.
Capt Mahen Abeysekera(Retd), Gen. secretary & the MC proposed the final vote of thanks.
Our special thanks must go to Lt. Gen. Senanayaka (and his family) for his presence as the chief guest. Our thanks are also go out to all the sponsors and donors of the generous raffle prizes including Sri Lankan Airlines for the return air ticket to Colombo. Also thank you to all the Souvenir advertisers and printers, to Novotel Hotel Management, and to Frontline Live Band. Finally, a special mention to all the members and the guests for their presence in making this event a night to remember.
Last but not least, my sincere thanks must go the organising team led by the energetic vice president/chairman Lt. Cmd Kapila De Alwis(Retd), Capt Mahen Abeysekera(Retd), Capt Sampath Dinesh(Retd), Maj. Selva Sathananthan (Retd), Maj. Asoka Elapatha(Retd) and Flt/Lt. Aloysius Gnanapragasm and their supportive ladies for their hard work and efforts.