The tea industry celebrated its 150 year anniversary of Ceylon Tea in grand style with numerous festivities taking place in Colombo.
These events were mainly organized by the Tea Traders with hardly any recognition given to the personnel on the estates who are the backbone of the Industry. Having recognized this issue, the Association of Ex- Planters decided to show gratitude to those who had contributed immensely towards the growth of the tea industry.
A decision was made to felicitate the staff and workers of Matale District in Panvila who had served on their respective estates for the longest period and are still surviving.
Therefore, with the assistance of the Managers of the respective estates in the district, 44 recipients were selected for this event which took place on the 21st and 22nd October, at the Madulkelle Planters Club. Majority of the beneficiaries were employees of the State Plantation Corporation.
Along with this project a Health Camp was also organized simultaneously to assist the workers in improving their health and sustenance.
On the first day at 9:30a.m. the national flag was hoisted by the Divisional Secretary while the Ex-Planters Flag was hoisted by the President of the Association Naresh Ratwatte. Thereafter a welcome speech was delivered by the President who also gave the reasons for conducting such a programme followed by an address by Panwila Divisional secretary J.P.U.K. Jayaratne.
During the two days, the following activities were conducted:
A lecture on the effects of alcohol and tobacco was given by doctors and representatives of NATA (National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol).
A blood donation campaign was conducted by the medical staff of the Matale District Hospital. Over 50 donors were accepted and several ladies were detected with low haemoglobin levels which precluded them from donating blood.
A dental examination was conducted by the doctors of the Kandy General Hospital.
A lecture was given by doctors of the Cancer Society Kandy in early detection and awareness and the preliminary symptoms of cancer. This was arranged by Mohan Samarakoon Past President of the Cancer Society Kandy himself, an Ex Planter and a member of the Ex-Planters Association.
Samarakoon outlined the importance of this programme to the audience in Tamil, Sinhala and English before the doctors specialized in the subject made their presentations once again in Tamil Sinhala and English.
Screening was done for breast and uterine cancer by the MOH, Rangala and the Cancer Society, Kandy.
Thereafter, several speeches were made by eminent personnel who graced the occasion such as Madulkelle Estate Senior Manager and Co-Coordinator of the project Amila Weerasinghe, State Plantation Corporation Chairman Thilak Mahanama, a Stalwart in the Tea Industry and a former planter Hermon Guneratne, ex-planter representing the MJF Charity Fund Kamalanathan, ex-planter Dyan Seneviratne, State Plantation Estates Senior Member of Staff Udamulla and State Plantation Estates former Director and Manager Sunil Herath.
The Final event was the distribution of the commemorative plaques to the 44 recipients and it was pleasing to see the joy and appreciation on their faces when they received the awards.
Approximately 450 workers from the neighboring estates participated in this event and lunch and refreshments were provided to everyone who attended the programmes.
On the request of the Association of Ex-Planters, several companies and organizations came forward readily to assist in this project and the following were the Co-Sponsors:
- MJF Charity Fund
- Mlesna Tea
- Mascots-(Maskeliya- Ex-Planters Association)
- Horana Plantations
- Paraguna Consultant and Management Company
Many other well-wishers made generous contributions towards the Association of Ex- Planters in appreciation of the initiative taken by the association, their names are withheld on request.
There were several volunteers who unhesitatingly gave their fullest support in conducting this event successfully and our appreciation goes out to them and all others who graced this momentous occasion.