iEnergy Solar Lantern Project

Thanks to all of your support, Gecko has been able to donate £1,500 towards iEnergy’s Solar Lantern Project currently in operation in the North Eastern region of Sri Lanka. The funds were raised from The Gecko Pub Quiz in January and The Gecko Sixes cricket tournament in August. Our thanks also go to law firm Slaughter and May for supporting this donation. Below, iEnergy’s John Remigus writes on the ongoing amazing work of iEnergy which Gecko is proud to contribute towards. For further information, please visit iEnergy here.

Access to electricity is something that we take for granted in the developed world. All it takes is a flick of the switch to turn on our lights or power our appliances. However, globally, almost 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity. In Sri Lanka despite recent improvements in electrification rates tens of thousands of impoverished and marginalised rural families still live in relative darkness. This is particularly the case in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, where electrification rates lag behind the national average.

In the absence of electricity these families rely on traditional kerosene lamps for light. These lamps are expensive to run and on average families spend 15-20% of their household income on kerosene. Kerosene lamps are also extremely dangerous with 40% of all burn cases in Sri Lanka being attributed to them and their toxic black fumes contributing to serious respiratory diseases. As a result, day to day tasks such as cooking and studying become almost unbearable under the smoky, dim light of a kerosene lamp.

iEnergy was set up as a social enterprise in 2015 with the aim of replacing dangerous, expensive kerosene lamps with clean, safe solar lanterns. We work through a number of established local charity partners (i.e. Smile Foundation, Serendip Childrens Home and KGM Foundation), leveraging their local insight and extensive networks to ensure that we find the most deserving beneficiaries and that our solar lanterns reach and benefit them.

Solar lanterns provide a safe, affordable alternative to kerosene lamps. During the daylight hours they can be left out to charge in the sun. Once fully charged these solar lanterns can provide clean, bright light for up to 8 hours for these families whether that be for cooking, studying or socialising.

 

 

 

 

 

Most recently, in June 2018, iEnergy travelled back to Sri Lanka to donate over 100 solar lanterns to families that lived without access to electricity in a number of villages in the Eastern Province including Unnichai, Nelloor, Mankerni, Vakarai and Chettikulam. Whilst it was fantastic to see these families benefiting from our solar lanterns, they were just the lucky ones. In the interior parts of the Eastern Province there are still many more that are living in relative darkness and caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. Thanks to the support and generous donations of Gecko Sri Lanka we look forward to brightening up the lives of another 150 families and giving them a clean, safe alternative to dangerous kerosene lamps. Watch this space for further updates and photos of all the beneficiaries!

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The Gecko Sixes 2018 – Match Report

In the midst of a glorious summer heatwave, The Gecko Sixes returned to the Victoria Recreation Ground in its eleventh edition on Saturday 4th August.  Our annual cricket tournament is a fun filled day of six-a-side cricket for all ages, sexes and abilities. Five over games played with a windball and small boundaries, with double runs awarded for female players, once again made for a thoroughly enjoyable day for all involved.

Ten teams contested for the title this year and were divided into two groups of five, with eight advancing to the quarter finals. In the quarter finals, Team Ham defeated Team Ash, Team Arun saw off Team Jamie, Team Lux got the better of Team Niki, and Team Deno beat Team Madu.


The first semi-final exhibited a rematch of the group stage fixture of Deno’s Daredevils and Ham’s Hammerheads. Batting first, the Daredevils could only muster 36 runs. A spirited bowling and fielding display, led by captain Deno himself with 3 clean bowled wickets in an over, almost pulled off a spectacular victory, but the Hammerheads prevailed by one wicket. The second semi featured two potent bowling sides in Lux’s Lions and Arun’s Anacondas. A strong fielding and bowling display defending a tough score saw the Lions into the final.

Not for the first time, the final was a tense encounter boiling down to the end of the final over. Batting first, Ham’s Hammerheads posted an imposing 112 for 0, led by Jonny Morris- a score enough to win most games. However Lux’s Lions kept up with the testing required run rate, powered by Youhan’s mighty hitting. With 8 runs required off the final over, The Lions finished in style with Youhan launching the penultimate ball down the ground for six to hit the winning runs and take the Gecko Sixes 2018 title.  The team were presented with their deserved winners medals and a celebratory bottle of fizz.

As always, a delicious assortment of Sri Lankan and Western food, drink and cake was on sale for enjoyment by all. Our thanks to all those who helped cook and bake for this successful day.

The event has raised a total of £775. In addition to the funds raised from The Gecko Pub Quiz in January, these will be donated to Infinite Energy’s Solar Lantern Project currently operating in the North of Sri Lanka. Infinite Energy work to provide solar energy to underprivileged and vulnerable people in this region of the country, and to reduce the use of kerosene lamps and their associated hazards. For more information on their work, see their website here.

A huge thank you once again to all players and spectators for attending and making the day another huge success. We hope to see you again next year when World Cup fever hits the UK.

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The Gecko Sixes 2018 – Charity Cricket Tournament

Given the football and the weather, the British summer so far has been both atypical and exhilarating. With World Cup heartache now behind us (what a tournament!), we know what you’re thinking: how best to channel this sporty competitive energy, and make best use of the balmy sunshine while we’ve still got it? Our answer comes in the form of our annual charity cricket tournament, The Gecko Sixes, 2018 edition.

For those of you that haven’t been before, the day is a mini-cricket tournament which has something for everyone, from absolute beginners to seasoned cricketing pros, and ages eight to eighty. It’s 6 a-side and 5 overs per innings, so each game is both short and sweet. And like last year, we’ll be dishing out double runs for girls, so it would be wise to keep your teams mixed! Or just turn up and we can work out teams when you arrive!

It’s £10 to play and £5 to spectate, with all proceeds going to charity. As usual, there will be a heady selection of food and refreshments for sale, including all of your Sri Lankan favourites.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2043327799030643/ 

So what are you waiting for? Hit attend on that Facebook group and bring yourselves down to the Victoria Recreation Ground in Surbiton, London on Saturday 4th August for another day of charitable cricketing chaos. For now, we’ll leave you with our highlights reel from last year:

 

 

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The Thambiluvil Orphanage

Gecko has supported a number of worthwhile projects, ranging from our most recent contribution to Chitra Lane, contributions toward humanitarian efforts following natural disasters, and supporting training of mental health nurses in Sri Lanka.

 

The Thambiluvil Home for Girls is an orphanage which was set up by a subgroup of the Medical Institute of Tamils (MIOT) in 2004 after the devastating tsunami. Over the past few years, the home has been further improved thanks to generous support from family, friends and Gecko. Currently, there are 17 girls aged 9-15, a matron and a cook, living in the home. We enjoy receiving updates from previous girls and their successes, with two being employed at the local school, and another successfully completing University. Gecko first supported this project in 2012, funding invaluable resources including computers and textbooks.

The Home is not only beneficial for the residents, but also for the other local children of Thambiluvil. The main aim is to provide food, shelter and education to these children, and help them regain confidence and independence to enable long term financial security, which the founding organisation also helps with. The MIOT is now preparing to set up another orphanage in Kaithady, Jaffna.

MIOT supports a number of other healthcare projects too, if you’re interested to find out more please visit http://www.miot.org.uk.

 

Gecko Sri Lanka always strives to support projects in Sri Lanka similar to this. Our event of the summer, The Gecko Sixes, is just around the corner! Be sure to check here and our Facebook page for more details, and the project we’ll be supporting this year!

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Chitra Lane

Thank you to everyone who came to support us at the Gecko Pub Quiz last month; we hope you all had an amazing time. We would like to tell you about our beneficiary project from last year’s funds. We raised a total of £1966.36 through our annual pub quiz and our flagship Gecko Sixes cricket tournament, thanks to your generous donations and a supplementary £500 from law firm Slaughter and May. We have donated this to Chitra Lane, a school for children with special needs in Colombo.

Chitra Lane first opened in Sri Lanka in the 1960s and through the years has expanded and developed a Children’s Resource Centre and Sheltered Workshop. The Resource Centre provides a wide range of facilities including physiotherapy and speech and language development.  They host a variety of activities for the children, such as sports days and creative exhibitions.

 

 

 

 

 

The donation from Gecko Sri Lanka went towards supporting the Chitra Lane Sheltered Workshop. The Sheltered Workshop provides an environment for the children, adolescents and young adults to develop a vocational skill, empowering them to help promote their independence and support their families. It also provides a place for families to work closely with their children. The vocational training units include sewing, cookery and recycling units.

For more information about Chitra Lane, please visit their website here.

We’d like to thank everyone who supported us last year and made this donation possible. We hope to see you again soon!

The Gecko Committee

 

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Gecko Pub Quiz 2018: “And the winner is…”

It was a rainy Saturday in the gloomy month of January, but all was not lost.

Quizmaster extraordinaire Denesh was back hosting the Annual Gecko Pub Quiz, bringing joy to the faces of millions. Well, not quite millions. But with an excellent turn out this year’s pub quiz proved to be our most popular yet, with 15 teams competing to win the coveted prize hamper. The combination of brain-tickling questions, pints and tasty pub grub brightened up even the most dismal of days.

Our tried and tested format of 6 categories, 12 dingbats and 4 bonus rounds did not fail to disappoint; but in case you couldn’t make it here’s a sample of the questions you missed…


Science & Technology

The first UK storm of 2017 was Storm Aileen, the last was Storm Caroline? Can you think of suitable name for the first of 2018?

TV & Film

Order the following 2017 UK TV shows by peak viewing figures (1/2 mark per answer):

Blue Planet, Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor

History & Culture 

Name the authors of these classic novels? (1/2 mark if correct, 2 if all 3 correct)

Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, Little Women

Geography

British photographer Oliver Curtis has been taking photos with his back to famous landmarks. Can you name where this is taken?

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Sports

Can you name these three sportsmen, who all play sports that use balls?

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Music

Which country won the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest?


Serial attendees may remember that last year we had an unprecedented event with two teams being tied on their final score, and an inaugural tie-break round was introduced. Unbelievably, this year, a record THREE teams tied on 68.5 points leading to another nail-biting tie-break round with “Team Toad”, “Sticky Pickled Sausages” and “Communist Sheep Lady” competing for glory!

Tie-break Question: Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was the most streamed song on Spotify in 2017. Name the next most streamed song.

Its fair to say the crowd were on tenterhooks. Amazingly (but perhaps not unsurprisingly, given the Beliebers present), all 3 teams got this correct, answering “Despacito” and calling for yet another tie-break question!

This time, in response to the next highest streamed song on Spotify, “Sticky pickled sausages” lost out to the other two teams, who correctly named “Sorry” by Justin Bieber over Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking out Loud”.

Only two teams left now, with “Team Toad” and “Communist Sheep Lady” vying to answer the third tie-break question correctly and put everybody out of their misery. Team Toad managed to guess the height of The Shard to within 5metres of its actual height of 306m, whilst Communist Sheep Lady, after putting up a valiant fight, weren’t quite as accurate here with a guess of 845m!

Congratulations to Team Toad who finally emerged victorious, sharing the glory as well as a hamper of goodies between them.

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As always, thanks to the Railway Tavern for providing us with a venue and to everybody who joined us on the night. You all helped us raise an incredible £900 for charity – stay tuned to hear about the projects we support. Thanks again; we can’t wait to see you at the Gecko Sixes this summer!


Answers below:

Science & Tech

Names always reset each year, and the gender changes i.e. 2016 started with Angus, 2017 started with Aileen. Therefore any male name beginning with A (like Andrew or Albert!) would score you a point!

TV & Film

  1. Blue Planet
  2. Strictly Come Dancing
  3. GBBO
  4. The X Factor

History & Culture

Moby Dick – Herman Melville , The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Geography

The Wailing Wall,Jerusalem

Sports

John Stones, Jordan Speith, Joe Root

Music

Portugal


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Gecko Pub Quiz 2018: The Perfect Evening

Written by Denesh Srikantharajah

It’s mid January and those blues are hanging around far longer than I had planned for: that solitary gym session on 2nd January was swiftly followed by a run of (albeit delicious) Nandos fina pittas, those guitar lessons I thought about signing up for remain just a thought, and to top it all off the weather is pretty dire at the moment … but thank goodness there’s something exciting just around the corner – The Gecko Pub Quiz 2018!

That’s right, it’s that time of year where I start practicing my Dermot O’Leary quips in front of the mirror and use my shampoo bottle as a microphone in order to adequately prepare as the quizmaster for the greatest pub quiz around! And I urge all of you to come on down to The Railway Tavern this Saturday 20th January 2018 for what promises to be an exemplary night.

That should be enough to peak your interest, but for those who still need convincing, let me draw you a little picture …

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The sun has set and it’s time to head on out. You call your mates and bring them along too, or even just head out by yourself to mingle with quite frankly an awesome group of people. You’re greeted by some friendly faces who take your name, and then you happily pay £10 for entry, knowing that it’s going to go towards a fantastic cause as part of this charitable fundraising event.

You take your seat and starting chatting to your fellow quiz-loving peers. You fancy a drink, so head to the bar to grab a refreshing beer, or maybe a tangy J20. You notice the mouthwatering dishes on the menu, and decide to give your taste buds a treat by ordering that burger you’ve been craving all week (the diet’s already fallen by the wayside, why keep pretending?!).

You join a team, be it with your friends or some new friends you’ve just made, and come up with a whimsical team name. Then, in the words of Joey Tribbiani, “a handsome man walks in” – and from then on in I’ll take you through a series of rounds full of fascinating quiz questions that will make you think and that have been carefully designed by the Gecko committee to create maximum enjoyment. With bonus rounds for added spice and even a “free drink” round, this quiz quite literally has everything. You’re sitting there thinking: “I never want this to end!”

But then it does end – and the winning team (which you’re clearly part of) holds aloft a wonderful prize that money can’t buy! But the enjoyment does not need to end there – people seem to be heading out, so why not join them and keep this party going! Can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night: donating to charity, having some competitive banter and having a night out while we’re at it!

IMG_7621Now that picture seems pretty rosy to me – and that’s a night none of you should miss! So please, join us this Saturday for what promises to be a wonderful evening. We can’t wait to see you there! For further information, click on the link below!

Gecko Pub Quiz 2018

 

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Caribbean Hurricanes 2017

By Wikum

While our charity primarily raises funds for projects in Sri Lanka, where possible we also contribute towards other humanitarian efforts around the world, particularly following extreme natural disasters. Over the last 2 months, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused devastation across the Caribbean. This has been the most destructive hurricane season in the region on record, with damages estimated at over $315bn (USD). The official death toll is 432 so far, with many thousands having been made homeless. Multiple islands and countries have been affected, including Puerto Rico, Barbuda, Saint Martin, Dominica, and the USA. International relief efforts continue, and that is why Gecko Sri Lanka has donated £250 to the British Red Cross and their hurricane appeal.

If you would also like to make a donation to the Red Cross, please follow this link: https://beta.redcross.org.uk/appeal/hurricane-irma-appeal 

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Diwali: The Festival of Light

Diwali 1

Happy Diwali Everyone!

Diwali is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting fireworks and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valour and fame. But for those who don’t know, there’s a deeper story behind Diwali know as Ramayana.

So make a chai, take a seat, and let Uncle Ash tell you the story of Diwali.
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Years ago, in the city of Ayodhaya, there was a king named Dashrath who had 3 wives. The king was childless and so performed a fire sacrifice known as putra-kameshti yagya, this lead to the birth of his 4 Princes,  the eldest of whom was Rama. These princes held the essence of the God Vishnu, who had vowed to defeat the demon king Ravana plaguing that time.

As the princes grew,  one of the king’s wives was jealous of the king’s affection for Rama. She asked the king to exile Rama so her son, Bharath, could become king. The king once promised the wife to fulfil any wish of hers, and thus he was forced to exile Rama to the forest for 14 years, with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman. However, plagued by his grief, the king had passed away soon after. Bharath had learned of his mother’s wicked plans and sought Rama to ask him to return. Rama however, not wanting to betray his father’s final orders, decided to remain in exile. Bharath took the shoes of Rama and placed them on the throne whilst he ruled as Rama’s proxy.

Demoness

Years into their exile, the demoness Surpanakha came across the princes, and had fallen for their looks. She attempted to entice the pair, but was swiftly refused. Enraged, she transformed to her demon form to attack them. Lakshman retaliated cutting off her nose and ears. Surpanakha was forced to retreat to her brother, the demon king Ravana, who swore revenge on the princes.

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Later on, Rama went to hunt a golden deer that had caught Sita’s eye. However this was demon sent by Ravana to distract the prince, even calling to mimic Rama and lure Lakshman out as well. Sita was placed behind a protective line, the Lakshmana rekha,  which she should never cross. It was here that Ravana disguised himself as old beggar man, to prey of Sita’s compassion. As he begged the princess to feed him, he succeded in luring her beyond the line. Ravana reverted to his true form and kidnapped Sita, taking her back to his kingdom. Witnessing this, a vulture named Jatayu gave chase only to be mortally wounded. On their return, Rama and Lakshman came across the dying Jatyu who revealed that Sita had been taken.

ring.pngRam sought Hanuman, the monkey warrior, to aid them in their pursuit. Hanuman agreed as he had previously vowed to always be at Ram’s service, and brought with him the his army of beasts.

In their search, Hanuman leaped across the ocean to Lanka, where he finds Sita held captive in the garden of Ashok Vatika. He gave her Rama’s ring as proof of Rama’s coming to save her. Hanuman returned to Rama, but not before destroying many of the demon king’s forces and burning his land. On his return they begin their march across a bridge to Lanka made by the army.

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Rama and Ravana’s armies meet, where Hanuman and his army are able to beat the demons of Ravana. Ravana was the last of the demons standing against Rama. Rama gave Ravana a chance to surrender and return Sita to him, to which Ravana refused. Ravana and Ram exchanged blows, but nothing could beat Ravana. Rama’s brother Vibheeshan revealed the demon’s weakness was it’s Naval. Hearing this, Rama shot an arrow given to him by the gods to kill Ravana instantly.

Soon after the war, Rama, Sita and Lakshman return to Ayodhya at the end of their exile. Rama had asked Sita to preform the test of fire, Agni Pariksha,  to prove her chastity, as he wants to get rid of the rumours surrounding her purity. Rama undergoes his coronation and in celebration of light’s victory over the Demon King, Ayodhya is decorated with flowers and lamps.

So, there we go, the story of Ramayana and the meaning behind the festival of lights. Hope you enjoyed the re-telling and more importantly, hope you have a great Diwali full of light, happiness and GREAT Asian food

Written By Ashan Herath

 

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Gecko Sixes 2017 – Match Report

There is no bigger day in our calendar than the Gecko Sixes. Saturday 10 June was the date this time around, and the Committee were hugely excited for this edition of our charity’s flagship event. While there had been some rain earlier in the week, we were treated to a day of glorious sunshine on the Saturday itself. So glorious in fact that we had some poor sunburnt souls on the Sunday, but a price worth paying for a proper day of sunshine at the Sixes.

The tournament is a celebration of how we think cricket should be played: everyone being able to take part with a smile on their face and a bat in their hands. The format has been honed over the best part of the last decade, with 6 players (including at least one girl) on a each side and 5 over innings (each over bowled by someone different). The ball is soft and the boundaries are short. We even had some new touches this year, using markers to measure out wides and run-ups. It’s all about making the tournament as accessible and fun as we can. And just as importantly, it’s also all about the food. The usual selection of Sri Lankan short eats were devoured by the hungry masses. The introduction of Kotthu Rotti was a particular hit, and people came back for bowl after bowl.

So, to the cricket. This year’s edition had 12 teams – another great turn-out. They split into 3 groups of 4 in the first round. We saw lots of fantastic cricket in the group stages, and that got us to our quarter-finals. The top 2 from each group qualified automatically, with the next two lucky losers (based on net run-rate) making up a truly exciting final 8 in the quarters.

Team Lux edged past Team Madu. Team Ham saw off Team Abi. Team Yovaan eliminated last year’s champions Team Arun and Team Manthi eased through at the expense of Team Del. That left 4 teams for our semi-finals. The first was a clash of real heavyweights and great mates. Perennial contenders Yovaan and Miles took on Lux’s dynamic bowling unit. The result was a fairly comfortable victory for Team Lux, restricting Yov and co. to a manageable total and chasing it down to make the final.

The second semi-final saw the 2015 champions, Team Manthi, facing Ham’s motley (and loud) crew. Manthi’s boys put a strong total on the board, despite a flying caught and bowled from the opposition skipper. This display of hitherto unsuspected athletic prowess was such a surprise that it led to an impromptu pitch invasion and bundle from a number of men in their mid-to-late twenties. There was still a stiff total to chase, and though Ham’s troops had batted well on the day, this time around they were tied down in by a fantastic bowling performance, and Team Manthi deservedly progressed to the final.

So it was Team Lux and Team Manthi – both outstanding teams – who ended up fighting out an incredible final. Team Manthi batted first and the captain got them going nicely before being snaffled by a stunning caught behind. The middle order then kicked on to card an impressive 78 off their 5 overs,  a significant total considering it was the final.

However, they were pushed back by a genius batting performance from the classy opener Youhan, who hit it to all parts and kept Team Lux as favourites throughout their chase. The final over came and only 9 runs were needed off the last 6 balls. The tension rose as Lux was dismissed off the first ball. 9 off 5 with a new batsman facing. Dot, 4, dot – a fantastic effort from the bowler. 5 off 2, with the new batsman still facing. More drama as another great ball just passed over the stumps and the batsmen steal a bye. The fielding team appealed for a bowled, but footage from the square leg camera showed the ball just missed the stumps. 4 off 1. Phew. Youhan was back on strike and he dragged the final delivery through midwicket, with the fielders scrambling but unable to prevent the boundary. All over! Team Lux had claimed the title in the most dramatic of circumstances.

It was truly the final that a great day of cricket deserved. And once again, the tournament managed to bring people together to do their bit for a really important cause. We raised a phenomenal £986.36, and we are really grateful for your contributions towards this. This year, the funds will be donated to Chitra Lane, an organisation in Sri Lanka doing a lot of fantastic work in helping local children with special needs.

All that is left for this blog post is to dish out some final thank yous. The tournament was brilliantly planned and executed by Captain Deno and his supporting team of Yas, Madu and others. As ever, we were also indebted to the selfless efforts of the aunties at the food tent and the general support and umpiring of the uncles. Last but not least, thank you to each and every one of you who came along. Another great success – see you next year!

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