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We are a UK charity which raises funds to help Sunera Foundation in Sri Lanka.

Friends of Sunera Foundation...

... is a UK based charitable trust (number 1118536).

Our aims are

  • to raise awareness in this country of the impressive and unique work of Sunera Foundation of Sri Lanka

  • to raise funds to support (a) the core work of Sunera and (b) specific projects for which SF seeks our help

  • and to help people to travel from here to Sri Lanka to offer their talents and energies to Sunera.

Hon President: Sunethra Bandaranaike

Patrons: Lady Ayckbourn, Victoria Brignell, Jonathan Steele

Trustees: Sue Griffin JP (Chair), Rosalind Griffin (Treasurer), Susan Hoyle (Secretary), Liz Philipson, Alison Skilbeck

More about our President

oemp1Since she graduated from Oxford University with an Honours Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), Sunethra Bandaranaike has worked in Sri Lanka and abroad in various fields, from being a researcher in the Minority Rights Group and the Overseas Development Institute in the UK, to holding the post of Co-ordinating Secretary to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 1973 to 1977. She serves as the Chair of the Sunethra Bandaranaike Trust, which was set up in 1995, to provide financial assistance to those involved in the performing arts.

In 1998 Sunethra started working with disabled young people. With the establishment of the Sunera Foundation in 2000 (of which she is Chair), she has focused on using the performing arts to enhance the lives of the disabled, as well as raising awareness of the need to integrate them into society.


More about our Patrons

Picture of Friends of Sunera Lady Ayckbourn Heather Stoney

Lady Ayckbourn (Heather Stoney) is a former actress and now PA to her husband, the international playwright and theatre director, (Sir) Alan Ayckbourn. She also administers Split Infinitive, a trust designed primarily to assist those from the Yorkshire region involved in the arts and education. In addition, she is patron of three charities in Scarborough and a trustee of the town's St Catherine's Hospice. She writes: "I have seen at first hand how active participation in the arts can transform lives, so when I learnt of the inspired work of Sunera and was asked if I would be a patron of FSF, I didn't hesitate. Sunera brings joy; it opens doors for all people of all ages; it deserves many friends and I am proud to be one of them."

Victoria 1b

Victoria Brignell After reading classics at Downing College, Cambridge, Victoria trained as a journalist and now works full time in the media, especially broadcasting. From 2006 to 2010, she wrote a column in the New Statesman arising from her own experiences of disability. In 2013, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Anglia Ruskin University for being a "€˜disability champion"€™ and "the inspiration she gives to others"€™. Victoria is a member of the customer services committee of a large housing association and a trustee of a disability charity providing services in London.

Picture of Friends of Sunera Jonthan Steele

Jonathan Steele is a freelance columnist, roving foreign correspondent and author. He was the Guardian's bureau chief in Washington and Moscow, and has reported from most of the world's trouble-spots, including Afghanistan in the 80s, the Balkans, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Since 9/11 he has reported from Afghanistan again and from Iraq. He is also the author of several books on international affairs. As he mentioned at the FSF launch, Jonathan has close family ties to Sri Lanka, which is how he became aware of Sunera Foundation, and why he is so keen to help FSF.  He has visited SF workshops to see the work of Sunera at first hand.

More about our Trustees

Sue Griffin 2014 small

Sue Griffin (Chair) worked for many years for voluntary organisations in the early-years and child-care sector, her specialism being in training, and she is now a freelance writer. She was a magistrate for over 30 years. She visited SF workshops during a trip to Sri Lanka early in 2013, and was impressed by the way SF makes a difference to the lives of young disabled people. In conversation with their parents, she heard at first hand how much they value the mutual support they are able to give one another alongside the workshops.

Ros 2012

Rosalind Griffin (Treasurer) has worked as a fundraiser for various UK higher education institutions for manyIn 2014 years including a Cambridge college, SOAS and Imperial College London. Ros brings her experience of fundraising and philanthropy to FSF and has lived in London since 2001.

moi small

Susan Hoyle (Secretary and Newsletter Editor) has worked in a variety of organizations, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Women's Institutes, Transport 2000 and British Rail. She has been a freelance writer, mainly on transport matters. Now retired, she spends much of her time writing local history and fiction, knitting €”and helping to run FSF. In 2014, she visited Sri Lanka and took the opportunity to visit several workshops and SF HQ -- all in all, an inspiring experience.

Picture of Friends of Sunera Liz Philipson

Liz Philipson (Trustee) has studied and worked on and off in Sri Lanka for over 25 years and was the UK representative of Sunera Foundation during their UK tour in 2001. She has served as a board member and officer of various UK charities and brings strong governance experience to the organisation. She retired from freelance consultancy work on conflict-analysis and peace-building, subjects she previously taught at LSE and the University of Kent.  Liz is currently researching and writing the biography of the first woman European to be elected to an Asian Parliament—Doreen Wickremasinghe (née Young) in Sri Lanka.

Ali 2012

Alison Skilbeck (Trustee) is an actor, drama director and teacher, and trainer in communication skills. Much of her teaching work is for RADA, where she has worked as a freelance for 15 years. She has acted and taught in many parts of the world: the USA, Morocco, Hong Kong, Spain and much of Northern Europe. Alison has gone to Sri Lanka four times on FSF's behalf, working alongside workshop leaders in various parts of the country, contributing her professional expertise, and even raising funds for SF by performing her one-woman show "€˜Are there More of You?"€™ in Colombo.


Copyright © 2010 Friends of Sunera Foundation.  Registered Charity number: 118536