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A little bit of Scotland in Sri Lanka

Shona Robison, Commonwealth Games and Sport Minister

15/11/2013
Blog / International
Scotland is ready to welcome the world next year for the Commonwealth Games – that’s been the message I’ve been sharing with delegates at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo this week.

The Forum brings together more than a 1,000 business people and leaders from across the Commonwealth and I was invited to speak about Glasgow’s preparations for the Games and the business opportunities and events around the event.

The interest in and enthusiasm for Scotland hosting the Games has been fantastic. I’ve met business people and Ministers from India to Malawi, from Pakistan to Australia - there is real momentum and excitement building with our friends across the Commonwealth.

In a speech to Forum delegates I announced our plans to host a major international business conference on the eve of the Games, which was followed by announcement in Edinburgh by the First Minister that we would work with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to convene a summit for local chambers to strengthen economic links with the Commonwealth.

Shona Robison MSP with ladies from Netherlee Cottage, Sri LankaThe Games can be used as a catalyst for businesses of all sectors across Scotland to build on the £1.8 bn worth of exports already made to Commonwealth countries each year – it’s vital we harness the momentum and enthusiasm for Scotland that I’m experiencing first hand at this business Forum.

Netherlee Cottage

Next door to the forum venue, right in the middle of Colombo’s bustling business district is the Church of Scotland’s last remaining church in Asia – the St Andrew’s Scots Kirk. When you visit you’re immediately struck by how beautiful it is and how familiar it is to those we’d visit at home (perhaps with the exception of the coconut trees growing in the church grounds).

Shona Robison MSP with Rev. Hutchison at St Andrews Scot's kirk, Sri LankaRev. Norman Hutcheson was kind enough to show us the fantastic work that the church, in partnership with parishes in Netherlee and Fenwick, is doing with the Netherlee Cottage project in Colombo.

The Cottage provides care and support for women with mental health issues and the generosity and kindness of those congregations is offering local women the help that we in Scotland can often take for granted.

It was lovely to meet the Rev, his wife Margaret, Kumar and the ladies living and working at the cottage, and to hear how funds raised in Scotland are helping to rehabilitate and care for vulnerable women over 5,000 miles away.

Scotland takes pride in being a compassionate, caring country that helps others, and Netherlee Cottage is a brilliant example of that. For me, is a perfect demonstration of Scotland’s values, which we want to promote and encourage ahead of the Glasgow Games.