An accountant who has been a proud British citizen for 17 years despite his Asian birth has spoken of his shock to suffer foul-mouthed racial abuse on the streets of Welwyn Garden City.
Although Eranda Wickramasinghe was born in Sri Lanka 40 years ago, he has lived in the UK since 1990, and won citizenship in 2000, marrying an Englishwoman two years ago and moving to Welwyn Garden City.
Last week, as he arrived at the Hydeway end of the railway station footbridge on his way to work in London, he was confronted by a white man.
The man shouted: “F***ing world must be s**t for you lot to come here”.
Mr Wickramsinghe told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I was left in no doubt about what he meant by ‘you lot’.
“I found this deeply disturbing and hurtful. My wife and I would like to start a family, however we are having doubts about whether we feel safe to bring up any children we have in Welwyn Garden City.
“We are both British, highly skilled professionals, and would not struggle to find work and settle elsewhere in the world, but we love the United Kingdom and despite its imperfections, we feel that the UK is still one of the best places on Earth to live.”
He reported the abuse to the police, but fears racist abuse has increased since the Brexit referendum last year.
He added: “I will never forget my Sri Lankan roots but I am very proud to be British.
“I consider it a privilege. I also understand that there are duties and obligations that go hand-in-hand with the privilege of living somewhere as amazing as this, duties and obligations like obeying the law, common decency and being a good citizen.
“Sadly the gentleman who verbally abused me does not seem to be familiar with these duties and obligations.”
Mr Wickrasinghe lives on the east side of Welwyn Garden City with his wife Ruth, who works at the Royal Veterinary College in Brookmans Park.
He was brought to the UK by his parents, both professional doctors, with his sister, who is also now a British citizen.