History of the Sri Lanka Association in the UK
In 1949, the co-founders of the ‘ Ceylon Women’s Association’, Lady Evelyn De Soysa and Mrs Laurel Casinader, realised the need for an organisation primarily to co-ordinate social activities for Ceylonese women, who at the time were leading a relatively isolated existence in the UK, and to give an opportunity to meet one another.This idea was encouraged by the then High commissioner for Ceylon in the UK, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke and was endorsed by the first Prime Minister of Ceylon, the Hon. D S Senanayake, who gave his approval for such a venture, as long as it was not a political organisation.
The co-founders wished to form a non-political, multicultural and multi-religious organisation and a ‘Constitution’ was prepared, which opened membership to women aged 18 years and over, living in the UK, who had an interest in Ceylon and welcomed an opportunity to meet each other. Their influence and popularity in London society at the time enabled the Association to be affiliated to International organisations such as the ‘International Alliance of Women’, ‘Commonwealth Countries League’ (CCL), the ‘Womens Council’, ‘Sri Lanka Women’s Conference’, and through the High Commission, to the International Social Services (now known as CFAB). Almost all these contacts remain to date with active participation by the SLWA at annual fairs held by the CCL and CFAB. From the outset, the Patron of the Association has been the wife of the High Commissioner for Ceylon in the UK. In it’s 64 year history, this was not achievable only twice, in it’s 50th anniversary year, the patron was the High Commissioner, HE Mr Jayawardena, and the current Patron in 2013, HE Dr Chris Nonis, High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the UK.
The main aim of the Association was to provide a forum for Sri Lankan women and their families to meet in a social atmosphere and establish goodwill and understanding between women of all nationalities. Since 1976, the aims have been extended to include a sharper focus on the education of girls and women in Sri Lanka. The progressive nature of the Association was demonstrated when in 1990, a resolution was passed at the AGM, inviting men and students interested in the work of the SLWA to become Associate Members. Their support is greatly appreciated. To date the Association holds many functions during the year for members and their friends. Profits from functions go to a Welfare Fund from which regular donations are given to various charities in the UK and Sri Lanka. The SLWA also responds to appeals from areas affected by natural disasters such as famine, tsunami, cyclones etc.  Appeals from specific projects are assessed and donations given where appropriate. Functions are also held to raise funds for the Education Scheme.