Surviving and Thriving in Paradise – Talk on Wednesday November 21

Wednesday 21st November 2018 from 7pm – 9.30pm 


Surviving & Thriving in Paradise

An evening with Michael Roc Thomas


£18 Members/£21 Non-Members

Tickets include Refreshments, Wine and Sri Lankan Canapés

St Mary Abbotts Centre, Vicarage Gate, Kensington, London W8 4HN


Michael Roc Thomas is the only son of British movie stars, Patricia Roc and Anthony Steel whose careers blossomed during the Golden Era of British Film in the 1940’s and 1950’s.


After many years living and working around the world as a photographer, in 2000 Michael and his girlfriend, Alison, visited Sri Lanka for ‘his’ first time with a view to possibly opening a hotel, and later moved from London to the Deep South where they spent the next ten years.  This part of the country was then little visited, let alone lived in by non-Sri Lankans as the war, though not directly affecting the area, was in full flow elsewhere.


In 2002, Alison and Michael married in the small Anglican Church in Tangalle, and over the following years, whilst living the tropical dream, they survived the Tsunami, the murder of a close neighbour, a destructive raid on their home by twelve armed military deserters, and the very premature birth of their only daughter Steele.


Soon after her birth, Steele was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity, a disease that invariably leads to complete blindness.  In defiance of the odds, over the next nine months they flew from Sri Lanka to England to Canada in an attempt to save some of Steele’s sight, and it was this that almost serendipitously led Michael to begin to write: at first just simple stories and nursery rhymes in the hope of stimulating Steele’s other senses but this progressed until in January 2018, he launched his book Seeing Better Now at the Galle Literary FestivalSeeing Better Now comprises 56 tropical and topical tales told in verse.  Each is beautifully illustrated by two of Sri Lanka’s finest female artists (Sally Hulugalle and Ruwangi Amarasinghe).  The book has received fantastic press reviews this year and has already won an Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award!


“Verses that make an unseen world jump out of the page, an amazing book.” ~ Sunday Times

“The magic in Seeing Better Now, the book brushes your heart in the gentlest of ways.” ~ Daily Mirror

“A Tour de Force of Magical Verse. Poetry? No, much more fun!” ~ Sunday Island


Steele (now 12), has severely restricted sight yet is doing exceptionally well; excels at music and was even admitted to Mensa last year.  Join us on Wednesday 21st November to hear Michael talk about surviving and thriving in paradise.  Signed copies of Michael’s book will be available on the night for cash purchase.  With Steele’s condition in mind, Michael is donating part of book sale proceeds to NEST, an island wide registered charity that cares for children with severe disabilities across Sri Lanka, where public funding is minimal or non-existent.  Michael describes Nest as “a wonderful cause managed by magnificent volunteers.”  This stunningly illustrated book overflowing with wit and charm would make the ideal and amusing Christmas gift.


ONLINE PAYMENTS must be accompanied by an email to A/c Name: Friends of Sri Lanka Association, Payment Ref Code MRT2111, Sort Code 40 01 13, A/c No 82307022

or CHEQUES made payable to the Friends of Sri Lanka Association can be posted with this slip to Miss Chamali Fernando, Apt #1403, Jackson Tower, 1 Lincoln Plaza, (Off Millharbour), London E14 9BD.


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Sunday Times 21 October 2018

Sunday Times 2

Michael Roc wins the 2018 BRISLA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literary Arts

View(s): 35


Michael Roc Thomas receiving award from Mayor of Harrow Kareema Marikar

Michael Roc Thomas’s book of verses, ‘Seeing Better Now’, has been awarded the 2018 BRISLA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literary Arts. This is the fourth year of the British Sri Lankan Association awards, and the ceremony was held last Saturday at the historic Long Room at Lord’s Cricket Ground, an apt location that celebrates the common passion that binds the two islands. The award was presented by the Mayor of Harrow Kareema Marikar.

Michael’s delightful compendium of verses was launched early at this year’s Fairway Galle Literary Festival. Illustrated beautifully by Sally Hulugalle and Ruwangi Amarasinghe, the magical verse stories explore so many humorous, quirky situations, many of them capturing the paradisiacal spirit of Sri Lanka, while there are tales from Australia, the UK, Switzerland and Vietnam. There are also stories of nature, of animals and conservation. With the tang of Edward Lear, Rudyard Kipling, or Lewis Carroll, the book brings a world of exotic joy to the reader.

Since January the book has garnered so much attention, and Michael has been doing a round of talks, the final two for this year being in London this November. The talks are titled “Seeing Better Now: Surviving and Thriving in Paradise.” Michael, who will be in Sri Lanka for a short spell, will have an exclusive book signing on Friday, October 26 at Barefoot. (more…)


Attn Book Retailers – Ready To Order?

SUNDAY TIMES April ’18 “Verses that make an unseen world jump out of the page, an amazing book.”  

DAILY MIRROR April ’18 “The magic in Seeing Better Now, the book brushes your heart in the gentlest of ways.”

SUNDAY ISLAND January ’18 “A Tour de Force of Magical Verse. Poetry? No, much more fun!

For news & expanded reviews –