Friends of Sunera Foundation!

The Friends of Sunera Foundation was a UK-based charitable trust (number 1118536) started in 2006 with one aim – to raise funds for Sunera Foundation in Sri Lanka. From then until 2017, FSF was always our biggest supporter – true ‘Friends of Sunera.’ Through their commitment and dedication over the years, FSF raised a phenomenal amount of money in support of our work. This has been the backbone of our existence.

The FSF’s key focus areas included:

  • Raising awareness in the UK of the impressive and unique work of Sunera Foundation.
  • Raising funds to support both the core work of Sunera, and specific projects for which the Foundation seeks our help.
  • Helping people to travel from UK to Sri Lanka to offer their talents and energies to the growth and betterment of Sunera.

Over the years, FSF funds supported all aspects of SF’s activities. This included paying for:

  • Head Office activities, such as the costs of the publicity officer for a couple of years, and providing funds for specific items such as drawing equipment, sound-systems, and cameras.
  • At different times, the majority of our workshops.
  • The Provincial Newsletters from the very beginning, including the Tamil versions.
  • T-shirts for our trainers and participants.
  • Training of Trainers programmes
  • Two programmes of speech and language therapy, helping us to explore new ways of working with our young people.

Under the heading of ‘helping people to travel to Sri Lanka to offer their talents and energies to Sunera’, FSF worked with RADA (the London-based Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) on a very successful programme to send two students for four weeks in Sri Lanka in the summer of 2012, working at different workshops across the country. FSF’s Field Officer- Alison Skilbeck (a well-known actress and director, and a FSF Trustee), spent altogether at least sixteen weeks in Sri Lanka in four visits across eleven years: she worked with trainers and in workshops, she advised on training schemes, and generally supported the technical side of developing participants’ artistic expression.

FSF resorted to numerous ways of raising money to do all this. The single most important category was making applications to UK-based grant-giving trusts, whose generosity enabled FSF to be much more ambitious in its help to SF. The next most important source was FSF supporters: FSF had a database of some 100 people who sent donations (monthly or annually); many of them also responded generously to appeals for specific projects. Some individual supporters held fund-raisers of their own, and sent us generous cheques. Under the Gift Aid scheme, the UK government granted FSF a further 25% of these donations from the tax that the donors paid. FSF’s Treasurer, Rosalind Griffin, got married in 2014 and asked her friends to donate to FSF rather than give her presents; her parents, Sue Griffin (FSF Chair) and her husband Rod had a similar arrangement for their 50th wedding anniversary. Every year, at least one Quaker group sent FSF a generous sum.

And then there were public events organised by FSF itself, usually with help from others (FSF had no staff or premises). Over the years, FSF Trustee Alison Skilbeck and her husband Tim Hardy (who is also an actor) raised thousands of pounds for FSF from special performances; in 2007, they organized a weekend of one-person plays at a London theatre. Jewellery-makers Rashantha Devanesan (2014, 2015, and 2017) and Barbara Flynn (2006 and 2012) organized several sales of their work over the years; Jack Pollitt got together some of his friends (all of them well-known professional musicians) for a rock concert in 2007: Victoria Brignell (who had never acted before in her life) performed a 40-minute monologue in 2015; Heather Mayall celebrated a significant birthday with a sponsored bike-ride across the south of England in 2010. Finally, there were two classical music concerts: one in 2008 with Mandhira de Saram and the Oxford Opera Company and the Christchurch Festival Orchestra, and another with Danielle De Niese and Rohan da Silva in 2012.

Altogether, these events and appeals, small and large, raised over £125,000 for Sunera—over 35.2m SLR at today’s exchange rate!

Having worked tirelessly to give us immense support through years of friendship, Friends of Sunera Foundation (FSF) officially wound up operations in 2017. However, as private individuals, the former FSF Trustees continue to support us in numerous way with much dedication. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Sunera’s physical workshops had to remain closed, they supported us with funding for a story-book distribution-project to keep our participants engaged and help them stay focused while they are confined to their homes.

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

2012, 4th May


Danielle de Niese & Rohan da Silva

St John’s Smith Sq., London

2012, 4th February

Ancient Mariner

Tim Hardy

2012, March

Ancient Mariner

Tim Hardy


Jewellery Sale

Barbara Flynn

Private house, London

2007, 21st February

Rock concert

Jack Pollitt, Katrina Leskanich, David McAlmont, Ola Onabule, Barefoot

Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush, London

2007, 31st March and 1st April

Solos for Sunera

Alison Skilbeck, Roger Llewellyn, Gareth Armstrong, Bruce Purchase, Jeremy Stockwell, Linda Marlowe

Pacific Playhouse, London

2007, 18th June

Chosen Words

Alison Skilbeck, Tim Hardy

private house, Notting Hill

2007, 14th September

Poetry workshop and readings

Daljit Nagra

Morrab Library, Penzance, Cornwall

2008, 3rd May

Mozart Concert

Mandhira de Saram, Oxford Opera Company, James Ross, Christ Church Festival Orchestra

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford

2008, 3rd May

Post-concert reception

Sir Ivor Roberts

Trinity College, Oxford


Twelfth Night readings

Alison Skilbeck, Tim Hardy

2010, August

Bike Ride from Hove to Land’s End

Heather Mayall

2012, January

Performance of Are There More of You?

Alison Skilbeck


2012, December

Jewellery and Clothes Sale, Sri Lankan Dinner

Barbara Flynn, Jerry Taylor

Private house, London

2014, June


Tim Hardy

Probus meeting


University Ball

Warwick University Sri Lankan Association, University of Warwick

University of Warwick

2014, September

Jewellery Sale

Rashantha Devanesan, Sarah Corbett

St Anne’s, Soho, London

2015, 22nd March

Performance of Bed Among the Lentils

Victoria Brignell, Alison Skilbeck

Westminster Quaker Meeting House, London

2015, September

Jewellery Sale

Rashantha Devanesan

St Anne’s, Soho, London

2017, 9th April

Performance of The Power Behind the Crone

Alison Skilbeck

Omnibus Theatre, Clapham Common, London

2017, 29th April

Jewellery Sale

Rashantha Devanesan

St Anne’s, Soho, London