The Double Blue International
Wesley College Colombo - Sri Lanka
Professor J L C Rodrigo (JLC) was the son of J. A. G Rodrigo and was the eldest child in the family of JBC, Conrad, Lena and Cecily. Evelyn Fernando was his life partner and Swarna, Vinitha, Nalin, Siromi and Lalith made up their family of five children. JLC attended Royal College Colombo throughout his school career, but moved to Trinity College, Kandy for one year prior to leaving for England on the government scholarship awarded to one student each year on an island-wide competitive examination.He studied Western Classics at Balliol College in Oxford, passed out as a Barrister-in-Law from Grays Inn, and went on to obtain a Diploma in Journalism from the University of London prior to returning to Ceylon.
Upon his return, he took up journalism and functioned as the editor of the Morning Leader succeeding the well-known Armand de Souza. JLC is remembered to date as an eminent journalist and his newspaper columns under the pen names Adonis and Phoenix are spoken of to date in the elite intellectual circles.
JLC Rodrigo began his career as an academician when he accepted the position as the Head Master of Wesley College. Thereafter he joined the University College as an assistant lecturer. JLC’s rise to the highest echelons of academic excellence as the Professor of Western Classics was in 1947. He also held the position as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ceylon.
JLC’s rise to the highest echelons of academic excellence as the Professor of Western Classics was in 1947. He also held the position as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ceylon.
Some of JLC’s other achievements are noteworthy. He was a Ryde Gold Medalist at Trinity College, an award given for the most outstanding student of the year, a Member of the Board of Governors of Royal College, Trinity College and Ladies College, Chairman of the Church Missionary Society Schools and Education Officer in the Ceylon High Commission in London.
Prof JLC has been described as a mentor who understood and empathized with the young as very few men of his age were able to do. He is also remembered as a ‘helpful man’ who showed great interest in the functioning of the Anglican Church
By Shelton Peiris
I first knew Edmund as the brother of Bertram Littia, and Donald. Graham had not yet appeared on the scene as this was many decade ago. It was in the time of the Second World, War and Wesley had been displaced from its proper abode, and functioned with a handful of students in the afternoon at Carey College when Revd. Spillet was the Principal and later in a sprawling dwelling houses called Kittiyakkara. Then the war ends and in comes Rev. James Cartman, an indefatigable leader who resuscitates Wesley and leads it back its proper home.
I remember clearly the 3rd of December 1945 when a procession of teachers and students wind their way to Wesley College, and who is at the head of the line? none other than Edmund, in his hand a silver key with which he enters the stately College Hall, with sunlight filtering through the stained glass windows. It was our good fortune, as two Senior students, to be handpicked by Rev James Cartman to help and assist him in the task of rebuilding Wesley. An area he first picked was Cricket, to provide an intial thrust around which other activities would also flourish. Edmund emerged as the obvious leader, his latent talents indeed received the constant encouragement and challenge, of Rev. Cartman. As the Cricket Captain he occupied a special position, and will be remembered as an outstanding leader, who spurred his team into achieving the very best in cricketing performance. He was indeed a hero to Wesley boys of his time. His genial bearing, his fair and understanding treatment of fellow students, indeed made him a much loved and respected Senior Prefect and Cricket Captain. Two incidents will ensure him a permanent place in the cricketing history of Wesley.
One was his smart detection that Royal's declaration in the 1946 March against Wesley was outside the rules, by five minutes and was upheld, and later affirmed as correct by M. C. C. The other indeed a sad incident when whilst fielding at the mid-off position he was grievously hurt by a ball struck hard by Ronnie Weerakoon of St. Thomas' For weeks on end each morning the Rev. Cartman led the school Assembly in prayer. Edmund's recovery was considered a miracle. The School was inundated with telephone calls and letters inquiring about his condition day after day and Bertha Weeapass was hard put to deal with this high volume of work. After his recovery he assumed a low profile at Cricket as desired by his father who was indeed a great admirer of Wesley. In deference to his wishes Edmund chose to become a teacher at Wesley, and indeed completed over twenty five years of loyal service. Many a Principal came to rely on him as a confidante and a source of impartial advice, and a reposi- tory of the traditions and standards at Wesley. At the end of his teaching career, he took law examinations successfully and was admitted as an Attorny-at- law, Edmund continued without a break in his association with Wesley as an Old Boy actively involved in the Various activities of the Old Boys' Union, the Old Wesleyites Sports Club and on many committees dealing with College affairs.
He is now a Senior Vice President of the OBU, a Member of the Governing Board, and a sub-editor of the 125th Year Souvenir. Edmund has an Encyclopaedic knowledge of Wesley's cricketing history and has compiled a variety of interesting statistics for the Souvenir and posterity. Edmund's genial outlook and altruism, his unobtrusive assistance of both students and colleagues is worthy of emulation. Over many decades of association on a variety of matters I have never known him to be ruffled or overawed. He always seem to have the answer even before the question is posed! For many years he was a valuable contribution to the the work of Sumithrayo in guiding persons in distress and disarray, skillfully assisting such persons to get on their feet once again. As a Senior Lawyer, Edmund is respected for his quiet dignity and integrity by his colleagues and commands the confidence of his clients, in his sphere of work. His wide exposure to many aspects of work at Wesley and the legal field makes him a much sought after person, and whether then in the classroom and now in the courtroom his demeanor and bearing makes him the genial personality he is.
By Peter Casie Chetty
Often in our ripening years schoolmates sit together and reminisce the joyful years of our youth and discuss the teachers we met in the years of seeking guidance and learning. We unconsciously give them virtual marks for various attributes. The popularity of teachers is in every past pupils mind and heart, there can be no denying.
Among my contemporaries the names of Miss Iris Blacker, Mrs Rachel Leembruggen, Mrs Gloria White, Messers David Joseph, Edmund Dissanayake and Haig Karunaratne figure prominently as the most beloved.
Afterthoughts are for Messers Van Sanden, D’Aberera and David Ondaatje and pour cause ; they were specialist in the fields Rugby, Physics and Commercial classes. Not many of us had the good fortune of sitting in their class rooms ever. Others remember the motherly figure of Mrs Sivasubramaniam a lovable lady again not all of us knew her. Mr. Van Sanden, I will remember always for his “Churchillian” insults and massive sense of humour. He was a most lovable man I had a few weeks grace within the first term- Cricket season. He knew I was not part of his class but that did not deter him in allowing me to pose as if we was!
There is good reason for this. As teenagers we liked to be treated as adults. These teachers were able to make things easy, understanding the hyper active the sometimes incorrigible boys yet treating them as responsible adults.
This is about one of our favourite masters; Edmund Dissanayake and I know many will agree. Mr Dissanayake however, is pleasantly surprised. But there is unanimity from all those who crossed his path except those who believe they were better than they in fact were… some “wannabe” cricketers.
When school reopened In January 1960 at thirteen, I sat in a class with thirty one other boys listening attentively to the “welcoming address” given us by Mr. Edmund Dissanayake. His smiling cherubim face was different to one teacher we had had two years earlier. A vile, screaming neurotic wreck who was glad to see the backs of us he called “dayvils” yes everyone, except two effeminates. He could not cope with thirty mostly hyperactive boys.
I am not alone in this opinion must I add?
After we settled in, we realised in no time that Edmund was not just a born educator, he understood youth better than many other teachers. Again that is not just my opinion but that of Darrell Maye one of Wesley’s finest all-rounders at cricket, hockey, rugby and athletics. The opinion of Sextus “Bunny” Taylor another athlete and rugby player now living in Canada who said “I suppose I can say that he was one of the few masters I loved and respected. The other was “Vannie” Van Sanden”. Everard Schoorman, Nigel Christoffelsz and Mervyn Hamer all-round sportsmen have all agreed.
Tuan Aniff also a mischievous school-boy now a computer engineer, father and grandfather in California, USA who says “Edmund gave me responsibility where others would use punishment to change a pupil”.
Azahim Mohammed a retired Shipping Executive and one of the Nagoor Meera “dynasty” said all his brothers and he would pick Edmund as their favourite teacher. It was his kindness.
The constrains of space does not permit me to publish all the accolades but philanthropist William Deutrom another all- round sportsman who nestles in a hill top Queensland bungalow on seventeen acres of snake infested land fondly remembers Mr Dissanayake who was fondly referred to as “Pigeon”. The man has a sense of humour without a doubt and recently explained that a neighbour and a friend had lost a pigeon he was frantically looking for in the Dissanayake compound one week end in Nugegoda. Typical of our “friends” on the Monday hats switched heads and it was Edmund on whom the name stuck. He was never annoyed so it was always with affection that he was called the name and of course behind his back. Billy also known as Kaki Willie tried hard to annoy Edmund when he pointed out at a swooping eagle and claimed it was a pigeon. I knew what he was about to do and swore it was an eagle. Before the next batsman was ready to face us at practice Kaki walked up to Edmund and pointed up to the bird and asked “Pigeon, is it not?. Edmund with a sly smile nodded and moved on.
Now, between the “Bellas”, the “Ballis” the Bullets and the Boats” the “Parana Coats” “Long Jaw”, “Waduwa” and “Koli Hensman” the boys were innovative in giving masters nick names. All but, a Principal, earned one and the reason I believe is that he was not liked by Wesleyites. “Boss”” was a stiff necked outsider as far as I was concerned. I would have liked to refer to him as Baas the more sinister Dutch word for “boss”. Throughout the years he and I had a mutual dislike for each other. But then that was my private complaint. He tried to coach me at bowling and my father ridiculed my efforts at following “Baas” and his instructions. We had no coach so he probably thought us gullible enough to accept his advice. I was I must admit.
This is about Edmund Dissanayake.
Edmund was born one of nine children in 1927 in the capital of the southern province - Hambantota - where his land owner father was in charge of the Government Salt Department. Although the road to Colombo was hard and long in those pre-war days, Mr Dissanayake (Snr) wanted his children to have the best education possible. Edmund was sent to live with his maternal grandmother, Mrs J.A.Amerasinghe. He reminisced his first days at Wesley. The caring Mrs Joyce Lembruugen was his first teacher. It here he learned the three “Rs”; reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Later this kindly lady was to be my own teacher in 1952.
Lessons learned at home Edmund was immensely liked. Honesty, Integrity and Hard Work his father taught the children held good. His sister Agnes, brothers Bertram, Chandra and Donald were all in grandma’s care, so home was “transplanted” to Colombo, in a way. School is where a character is moulded. Edmund’s pride in the school he loved so much grew by day. Together with his best friend, Shelton Peries he followed the instructions of the Principal, Rev James Cartman, to “revive the sagging reputation of the school’s sports”.
This was post World War II Ceylon and glaring defeats on the field of cricket had saddened the pair. Edmund and Shelton set about getting a revitalization going in 1946 when he was appointed captain of cricket. Wesley faced Royal captained by the future international Mahes Rodrigo. “Dark Horse” Wesley was ably led by Edmund who strode in as one of the openers carried out bat with a century to his name. This feat after 27 years! Stalwart R.L.Kannangara had made a century in 1917! Edmund was given a “princely sum of five rupees” by a former Wesley skipper Stanley Jayasekera and the Royal College magazine congratulated Edmund at this feat they well appreciated. Cricket was the game of gentlemen in “those good old days”.
In 1947, Wesley was to face the predicament of being “coachless”- a rudderless vessel. The drive of the trainer and tactician cricket coaches are expected to be …Edmund had to take the team practice while he was captain. He had burly Henry Van Buuren at his side to do the tactical side of the “arguments”. The arrangement worked out well and Wesley’s march to glory had been given the kick start it needed “to ride into the Golden Fifties” as the Cleasen (help spelling) were later described. Together they worked on and defeated Royal and again the Royal Magazine and the newspapers attributed the victory to astute leadership. Wesley defeated their arch rivals St. Thomas easily at Mount Lavinia where at, Edmund was to suffer a very serious injury fielding in the “suicide” position very close to the bat. His injury was life threatening and after the match the team my father who had been watching the match, said rushed to see Edmund in hospital. It was “curtains” for his career as a club cricketer at the age of nineteen. I was to suffer a less serious injury 18 years later on the same ground when the team I played in had no coach and crashed to an innings defeat.
Senthil Sinniah skipper of the 1960 team remembers the scathing ear bashing he had from Edmund then the Master- in- Charge when he was caught on the boundary attempting to get a six to make his century against Ananda.” Edmund knew Senthil’s capabilities and was disappointed he did not make good against the strongest opponents Wesley had that year. Senthil left Sri Lanka and continued playing in English leagues with a definite “Wesley style” of batting. It was pure, fluent and orthodox instilled by Edmund as the Under 16 coach. Senthil also remembers the emphasis Edmund paid to fielding, even threatening to drop Lakshman Goonetilleke the best left arm fast bowler Wesley ever produced. Wesley skippers Muthuvaloe and Everard Schoorman, School Boy Cricketer of the Year 1963 Darrell Maye all speak very highly of their Under 16 coach. “He would toss the ball and make us use our feet or bounce it half way down the pitch and make the ball rear up for the pull and the hook. He would throw the ball in a way his wards learned to cut late or square. So when batsmen walked out they were equipped with most strokes all from the book!
The fond memories are overlapped by those of a young lady teacher from the Matara Convent who fortunately was a friend of Edmunds sister. It was love at first sight and soon after their meeting they were united in civil matrimony. They are both practicing Buddhists and that they have not been converted despite the Colonial attitude is thought provoking and shows a lot of character. Impossible is not a word she will allow into their lives. “Meditation” he says “is her forte.”
While his wife Amara stood by his side we have to remember the Dissanayake Family’s contributions to Wesley Cricket. Before Edmund, Bertram his eldest brother was the vice-captain and wicket keeper under T.I.Cassim in 1941 then captained the school in 1944 and 1945. Nephew Mahendra skippered the side as an all-round fast bowler and a hard hitting batsman. Mahendra holds the record for the best performance bowling against St. Peter’s having got 8 wickets for? Runs. Danesh Edmund’s son was the youngest player in the Wesley College side in 1984. He continued to make big scores and make a record number of centuries (?) between 1984 and 1989. I was fortunate to interview my class master and cricket coach when I was on a visit to Sri Lanka and found his memory amazing for detail. He remembers Mr. B.J.H.Bahar an innovative coach who would watch future opponents and make plans for Wesley to counter their strengths. He was a native of Hambantota and captained the side against the Matara team in 1946. He remembers the rotund Mrs Ruth Hindle the kindly Hostel Matron and senior Hostellers sneaking out to “gate- crash” wedding receptions, well-dressed but uninvited “guests”. One of them was my favourite uncle Ashley Casie Chetty - well known for his rather eccentric behaviour Edmund confirmed. He remembers the Caterer old Boy Mr. D.S.Wijemanne who was a benefactor of the cricket team providing the cricketers with free afternoon meals.
His memory of his staff colleagues is impeccable even mentioning their nicknames with a glint of schoolboy mischief in his eye. Mr. Dissanayake has however the regret about his advice not being followed by the Principal who appointed a coach with disastrous results. Six innings defeats! Having two great cricketers, in my humble opinion, at his door – Lalith Wijesinghe and Edmund Dissanayake he chose to look elsewhere. This was Wesley scraping the bottom. The Principal’s rebuke “we have done badly… things cannot get any worse” was annoying.
The Great Sathasivam who represented Malaysia and Ceylon was quick to point out that Edmund would have been the best coach and I am sure there would have been hundreds of Wesley cricketers who would have agreed whole heartedly. Edmunds career as a teacher had to take a turn and following his achieving the Law Exams he turned to appear as a lawyer in the Magistrate’s Courts in 1980. Wesley was veering off the coast onto the rocks disaster and many a true Wesleyite suffered the same humiliation as Edmund did. The cricket teams however, made their best seasons when they were coached by an old Wesleyite and Milroy Muthuvaloe and Russell Hamer both under sixteen charges of Edmund were able to bring teams along the right track. In 2005, Edmund was thrown by a three wheel driver recklessly barging into him while he crossed the street. He has now to walk with the aid of a cane, but his views on education are worth being observed carefully. “The method of teaching English at Wesley should radically be changed. Conversation, picture study, song, drama, poetry and prose should play an important part”. My opinion is that his revered experience must prevail. He is a careful student of life as a student and as a teacher, as a lawyer and as a person. He has been tried and tested. He passes and will pass every time. Our experience at Wesley with the teachers who we regarded as friends must prevail. They put their heart and soul into teaching us. We had no need for tuition classes and we were able to have a mock exam before the real GCEs… meaning the syllabuses were completed. The present old boy and school principal has forced the horse and cart back on track.
The dream begins with a teacher, who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau. If I may quote the famous Pandit Guru Govinda (1898-1985), a guru is an individual, who is definitely more than a teacher or a pedagogue, a strict or formal teacher. This individual has all these atributes. There are certain teachers whose names are synonymous with the schools they teach. Also, there are school cricketers, many names that go with the respective schools they studied at. For example, Viji Weerasinghe, E. C. Gunasekera of Royal, W. D. E. Perera, Captain V. I. Perera, Stanley Munasinghe, W. B. (Bertie) Perera with Nalanda, Keerthisinghe, A. D. Karunanda, Bertie Fernando with Ananda, Lassie Abeywardane, Bertie Wijesinghe, Orville Abeynaike, Jayasena Ratnayaka with S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Edmund Dissanayake, with Wesley, to name a few.
Out of the schoolboy cricketers, some of the names like Amendra’s of Mahinda, Gunasekera’s and De Saram’s at Royal College, Senanayake’s (D. S., Dudley, Robert), Molamure’s, Bulankulama’s and Pieris’s) from S. Thomas’ Perera’s – Lincoln, Parliamentarian and Chairman of the United National Party, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Asoka Warnapura, Weerasinghe, Illukkumbura’s, (Daya, Karunatilake), Narangoda’s, (Herbert, Eastmen, Leslie, Jayantha), Nalanda’s, Ranatunga’s – Dhammika, Arjuna, Prasanna, Nishantha, Ruwan, are unforgettable.
The name Edmund Dissanayake as a school cricketer and a teacher at Wesley College, Colombo is one of a kind.Wesley College and the Dissanayakes are inseparable. Fathers, brothers and sons have represented Wesley at cricket. The Dissanayake clan began their cricket career in Wesley in late 1930s. Bertram played for Wesley from 1939-1941, Chandra, Donald, Edmund from 1944-1945, Graham Dissanayake, who retired as the Commissioner of the Food Department was the first Ceylonese to secure the Diploma in Development Administration (Manchester). His son, a livewire at Wesley, Mahendra Dissanayake, captained in 1984. He played cricket in Australia too. While in Australia, Mahendra, son of Graham, obtained the Bachelor of Engineering Degree and Msc in Information Technology.
Record breakers – father and son
All these Dissanayakes (father-son combination), wrote their names in gold in the cricketing history of Wesley. They both captained the college. Both scored centuries against Royal College, another unique record. These two Dissanayakes set many records at Wesley. Edmund’s son Danesh, did better than the father Edmund, by scoring two centuries against Royal.
The Wesley and Dissanayake episode, is like a fairy tale. It will not be complete, if I do not enlighten you on the famous, Wesley – S. Thomas’ encounter in 1947. Wesley were riding high, having beaten Royal a week before. The Thomians were captained by Upali Katugaha and Wesley by Edmund Dissanayake. Ronnie Weerakoon was the vice captain of S. Thomas’ College. An unprecedented crowd flocked to Mount Lavinia to see a ‘Greek meeting a Greek’.Edmund Dissanayake had a premonition of disaster before the game. On the second day of the match (Saturday), Wesley Principal, Rev. James Cartman, decided to drive Edmund in his car to Mount Lavinia. The car stalled near the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Borella. Was it a bad omen? They managed to do a quick repair and proceeded to Mount Lavinia. The first day belonged to Wesley with their skipper Edmund Dissanayake capturing 6 for 14 in the first innings. In the second essay, the school by the sea were at sea, losing their last six wickets for 60 and and were staring at defeat.
Edmund Dissanayake was a brilliant captain. He was a fine strategist. From one end he brought in N. S. Jayasundera, a spinner for an odd over. Edmund, the fighting captain, took up position at short leg. During this era, there were no helmets and other protective gear. Ronnie Weerakoon was at strike facing N. S. Jayawickrema. One of his deliveries slipped off his palm. Ronnie clobbered the full toss with all his might and the red cherry struck Edmund with a resounding thud on his head. Edmund swung around and around like a merry-go-round. Wesley Principal Rev. Cartman was the first to rush to the field and carried his injured skipper Edmund. Before Edmund lapsed into unconsciousness, he instructed the deputy skipper regarding the bowling changes. While Edmund was battling for his life at the hospital, Wesley emerged victorious by 112 runs. At the hospital the good doctor Dr. J. H. F. Jayasuriya, the eminent Neuro Surgeon, battled round the clock to save Edmund’s life. He suffered from concussion, laceration of the brain tissues, associated with paralysis of the region below the waist. Edmund Dissanayake’s recovery was a miracle. For nearly three months Edmund’s life was hanging on a thread.
Added to all this commotion, there was a death notice in the Daily News – stop press – E. Dissanayake. Presuming that the worst had happened to Edmund, people sent floral tributes and telegrams and rushed to E. Dissanayake’s residence. The Royal and S. Thomas’ cricket teams were also present to pay their last respects. Can you believe, the lady principal, teachers and students in the southern capital, the sister school of Richmond, Rippon Girls School, held a memorial service on behalf of the living Edmund Dissanayake.
Wesley – A great seat of learning
Wesley was founded on March 2, 1874. Through its portals, several highly distinguished sons have passed through. To name a few out of many; Sir D. B. Jeyatilleke, Dr. E. W. Adikaram, Prof. J. E. Jayasuriya, Prof. E. F. C. Loduwyke, P. de S. Kularatne, Father S. G. Perera, Sir Oliver Goonetileke, Sir Claude Corea, Sir Gerard Wijekoon, Sir Mohammed Macan Markar, Justice Amir Ismail and Rienzie Wijetilake. From Wesley emerged Sri Lanka cricketers, M. Sathasivam, Abu Fuard, L. R. Gunatileke and Sridharan Jeganathan. Edmund began has career as a teacher at Wesley and rose to the rank and positions of Head Master, Deputy Principal, Prefect of Games and Master-in-Charge of Cricket.
Edmund Dissanayake taught at Wesley from 1949 to 1980, the last five years as Head-Master. Then from 1982 to 1985, he taught English at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura. From 1982 to 2005, he was an English Lecturer attached to Aquinas. In the meantime, he did his law studies and became an Attorney-at-Law. From 1980 to 2005, he worked as an attorney at the Magistrate’s Court. After a motor accident, in 2005, he did not attend court. For the last five years he had been kept under ‘House Detention’. His beloved wife Amara is nursing him. Daughter Gaithri, daughter-in-law Kanchana and son Danesh have given a fresh lease of life to Edmund Dissanayake.
By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
So Lionel Jayasuriya, the grand old man of Wesley, is 100 years old (January 2001) and never out. He taught my dad just after the 1st World War at Carey College and then taught me in Form (1) in 1954 in the then "new block" by the tennis courts. A century is a wonderful achievement for distinguished teacher. On my many visits to Wesley I have always inquired about him. Edmund Dissanayake could only tell me he was alive and well. How can one forget "English with a smile by W.H.Samaranayake" the book he read with us many times over. I still remember the superb account of the history and splendour of Sigiriya in that book. When I was working at Kurunegala Mr. Samaranayake was my patient having retired from his duties as principal of a school in Polgahawela. What a small world indeed!! As L.J. taught he kept his foot on the nearest desk showing off his well polished brown shoes and the cracked skin of his ankles which gave him his nickname "Kabaraya".
In those days I was in the hostel and was a hungry boarder always scrounging for food. On many occasions when he lived in the Vice Principals bungalow called me in the evening for a meal. Mrs Jayasuriya always dished out lavish portions to one starving student. In return I added up marks for him and did the errands which we felt was a part of our duty. Mr. and Mrs J. then moved to a house opposite All Saints' church behind the school pavilion.
Mr Lionel jayasuriya had some quirky ways too. I recall once when he chased G. De S out of the class for breaking wind. He asked me to check by smelling him and the expression in my face said it all. Since I left school I often thought of him for the kindness he has shown me and wanted to meet him one day. When I qualified and was working at the General Hospital Colombo I saw him parked near the OPD. He was beside his favourite Morris Minor. I must confess being off duty I was dressed like a vagabond. I promptly went upto him and introduced myself but he could not recognise me. I was most disappointed not being able to thank him for teaching us so well. Infact he was mentioned in my article of the 125th College Souvenir. Who can ever forget him? Sadly my dad isn't with us to honour him. On behalf of myself and my dad and the many students who benefited from his wisdom I wish to pass on our most sincere gatitude for the honesty and integrity he has shown us in the many years of teaching at Wesley College. May the Good Lord protect him in the years to come. Our best wishes to his daughter whom I can remember from my school days.
Lionel Jayasuriya - A hundred up - well played Sir By Uthpala Gunethilake
He was born in the first month of the first year of the last century of the last millennium. He lived to see the end of that century, and heartily greeted the beginning not of a mere century but of a brand new millennium. And the clock hasn't stopped ticking yet. How is that for an eventful life? Indeed, Mr. Lionel Jayasuriya who turns 100 on January 25 is a rare specimen, a miniature canvas reflecting the bigger picture of the last hundred years on the island. Born in 1901, to a much more laid-back time than ours, in the 'village' of Veyangoda, Mr. Jayasuriya is the youngest of a Baptist minister's 13 children. "When my eldest sister married, I was too small even to be a pageboy. Now I'm the only surviving member of my family," he reminisces. The years have dulled his physical faculties -he is frail and unable to see and hear properly- but he suffers from no severe illnesses, and his memory, and spirit remain amazingly clear. Having lived a full life, even at 100 he hasn't stopped earning titles; his latest is the 'oldest old boy' of Wesley College.
Mr. Jayasuriya's life mirrors not only a lifestyle much different to our own, but a different country too. "Life was much different those days, and certainly better," he comments. "There were no buses. The bullock-cart reigned. Once, when I was nine we came by cart from Bandaragama to Panadura- seven miles. We went up to Bolgoda Lake in the cart where they changed the tired bull. Then, with a fresh bull we pulled onto Panadura. That day, for the first time in my life, I saw the sea; I was thrilled!" His family later moved to Panadura, and Mr. Jayasuriya studied for some time at St. John's College, Panadura, during its founding principal, Mr. Cyril Jansz's time. Later he entered Carey College where after his studies he joined the staff as a pupil-teacher, a breed that is no more. In 1917, at just 16, he joined the Government Teacher Training College and after training, returned to Carey as a teacher later becoming the Lower School headmaster. Cricket and church, he says have been highlights in his life. "When I was at St. John's College I'd form a team and play against other schools in the area.
Later I played for the second-eleven of SSC. I was a fast bowler-only fast but not very good! But once I scored ninety-nine not-out versus Nugegoda Sports Club and that was my best!" However, his plans to become a skilled violin player suffered due to cricket. "I loved playing the violin till I gave it up for cricket! One day I went without practising the violin and my excuse was that I had cricket practices. My teacher said, 'Mr. Jayasuriya, either you give up cricket or give up this violin!' I gave up the violin. I was around 35 then." In 1949, he joined Wesley College where he taught till he retired. Upon retirement, in 1962, he returned to Carey College as master in charge of cricket. "When the foreign teams came to play here, like the Indians and Englishmen, I would take the boys at my expense to watch the matches," he says. He even got famous coaches like Brian Close to speak to his own team. Having also been a keen Scout Mr. Jayasuriya remembers how as a Senior Patrol Leader of the 12th Colombo Troop, he was among those selected to line up at the late Governer Sir John Anderson's funeral procession.
He remained a pillar of the church all his life. "I was a member of the YMCA, active in the YMCA Forum. In 1937, I was part of a delegation that went to Rangoon, for a Student Christian Movement conference." Mr. Jayasuriya admits to being quite a Don Juan in his days. "I loved many girls!" he says, with a twinkle in his eye. "Every time I loved a girl I prayed that God would give her to me. But when she moved house, I would follow her for sometime and then fall in love with some other girl!" However there was one girl he didn't give up. "Her parents didn't want a schoolmaster for her; they wanted a doctor. But she and I carried on 'horen horen'! "Once she had to go to Nuwara Eliya. She told me which train she was taking, and she had a pass. I bought my ticket. Of course I had to pay first-class fares, but all the same I got first-class enjoyment!" The parents couldn't stop the two, and finally Mr. Jayasuriya married Nesta Kannangara, also a teacher. They had one daughter. Nesta passed away in 1997. The couple lived in Mirihana and Mr. Jayasuriya recalls how during World War 2, they often entertained RAF soldiers at their home.
He remembers seeing Ceylon gaining Independence in 1948. "It was a school holiday and we were all part of the celebrations. As part of it all the hostellers at Carey took a group photograph." Some of his most memorable experiences are of the many class trips he took his students on. "Sri Lanka was one of the safest places and we could go anywhere in the island without getting into trouble_ Trincomalee, Anura dhapura, Yala and Batticaloa. In Batticaloa in 1951 it was raining heavily and the roads were flooded, and we had to push the bus. Later several of us went to hear the singing fish. We waited and waited but the fish didn't sing that day!" Mr. Jayasuriya and daughter Kaminee now live in Moratuwa with Kaminee's cousin, Rev. Mervin De Silva of St. Emmanuel's Church. He is grateful to his daughter who looks after him, and says he spends his time listening to the radio when he can, but mostly, he says, remembering the past. And what does he think of the world today? "My word, we are living on top of a volcano!" he exclaims. " But, in spite of all that, I believe the world is still getting along under God's guidance." "I take no credit for having lived to be a hundred. I just lived, taking days as they come," he says reciting a few lines by H. W. Longfellow,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
By Herbert Jayasuriya
Transcribed from the Ceylon Daily News 19th February 2001
The Baptist Church in Sri Lanka consists of a small congregation, but in this congregation there are exceptional members who can be called the salt of the earth. One such member is Lionel Jayasuriya, who celebrated his 100 years on January 25 this year. Lionel Jayasuriya is the son of a baptist pastor. He was educated at the Mecca of learning of the Baptist church - Carey College, Colombo. Thereafter, he joined the teaching profession and became a trained teacher. It was his privilege to serve on the tutorial staff of his alma-mater for a period of almost 30 years. He was promoted to the office of Head Master of Carey College in 1946 and up to 1949, he served this school in this capacity. My parents who were ardent Baptists sent me to Carey College to receive my primary and junior education during the period 1945 to 1950. Before me, my father and two uncles received their education at this school. During the period I was at Carey College as a young student, I vividly remember Lionel Jayasuriya who was the Head Master. He used to come to school each day in his Baby Austin car. He was always smartly dressed in a perfectly cut Tussore suit which was well starched. His shoes were well polished and he wore a matching tie. He was a man who spoke softly and never lost his temper. In any stormy situation he remained cool and calm.
Mr. Jayasuriya was an excellent cricketer. He was a right-handed medium-pace bowler and a very good right-handed stylish batsman who at one time, played for the Sinhalese Sports Club. I had the pleasure of seeing him play in several Old Boys vs. Present Boys matches where he fared very well. I also recall that Mr. Jayasuriya was the Master-in-Charge of cricket and he was in addition, the coach of the cricket team. In fact, because of his interest in cricket, in 1948 or 1949 Carey College won every single cricket match they played with rival schools. Further, during this period, Carey College produced cricketers of the calibre of Bertie Alwis, Douglas Meerwald, Valentine Daniel, the two Felsinger brothers viz. Herbie and Allan and G. D. Bertus. One of the incidents during the period I was a student, will always remain in my memory. I recall when I was a student in the 3rd Standard, my teacher was a lady. If a student committed a misdemeanour which could not be handled by her, she reported the student to the Head Master, Mr. Jayasuriya. On one occasion, I had committed a misdemeanour and the teacher reported me to Mr. Jayasuriya. Mr. Jayasuriya summoned me to his office which was located behind the College Hall in the Upper School Section. When I went to his office, he was seated at his table and there was a cane hanging on the wall suspended from a string to a nail on the right-hand of his table. When I entered his office, he stood up, took off his coat and took the cane to his right hand and he spoke to me as follows: "You are Herbert Jayasuriya" I said "Yes Sir!" He continued... "Your father is Sonny Jayasuriya" I said "Yes Sir!" "Your uncles are Wally and Peter" I said "Yes Sir!" He said "You know, I had the pleasure of caning your father and your two uncles and now I have the pleasure of caning you." He asked me to stretch my hands and he gave me six cuts with great power. Up to today, I have not forgotten this painful meeting with Mr. Jayasuriya and the caning he gave me.
As a cricketer Mr. Jayasuriya was very good at wielding the willow, but I must say as a Master he was better at wielding the cane. It must be remembered that in that era, Masters never spared the rod and spoilt the child. Mr. Jayasuriya left Carey College in 1949 and joined the tutorial staff of Wesley College. He taught at Wesley for about thirteen years. After leaving Wesley College in about 1962, he returned to Carey College where he continued to coach the cricket team for a few years. It is said that when "The Great Scorer comes to write against your name - He writes not whether you won or lost, but how you played the Game!" One can be absolutely assured that Mr. Jayasuriya always played the game with a straight bat. It is very rarely in the modern world that you come across Masters of the calibre of Mr. Jayasuriya who have led exemplary lives. I am certain Mr. Jayasuriya was able to score a Century in life due to the high principles he upheld and the disciplined life he led. It is the wish of all those who know Mr. Jayasuriya that the Good Lord will bless and keep him for a number of years to come!
Centenarian cricket coach now exercises on bed
Last week the Centenarian Friendship Association centenarian study team visited another centenarian in Wattala, in its study programme in progress in association with the Health Watch. The centenarian in this case was David Lionel Jayasuriya (101) a former cricket coach and teacher at Carey College, Colombo. Having had an attack of flue from which he was recovering we found him on bed, yet keen to do simple keep fit exercises with arms and legs while on bed. Centenarian Jayasuriya in the study scored 70 percent marks the performance of daily activities independently. Dr. Viraj Peramuna in the study team who headed the study has written in his report. "Mr. Jayasuriya degree of independency in daily activities is 14/20 x 100 + 70% based on the Borthels Activities Index.
Born in Veyangoda, he was the youngest of a 13 membered family studied at Panadura St. John's College and Colombo - Carey College, he involved actively, in the school cricket team. He wanted to be a violinist, but he has given-up the violin for cricket! Also, he has actively involved in scouting where they have played a part in the Independence Celebration in 1948. Then he played in the 2nd eleven of the SSC cricket team followed by becoming a teacher in Wesley College. He recalls, how he enjoyed in school trips with his students. His wife died in 1997. All the brothers and sisters have dead and gone. (Nobody lived more than 100 yrs). His daughter is unmarried and looking after him kindly. Now both of them are staying in retirement house for elders. Now, the things remaining with him are, his loving daughter and the unforgettable past!
From the 125th Anniversary Souvenir
My thoughts go back with great joy to those hectic days we spent as students at Wesley, fifty years ago! Inretrospect, they have been the most carefree happy days of our lives. They were days crammed with mirth and laughter; fun and frolic; camaraderie and bon homie- the very substance of boyhood. The name of James Cartman has been synonymous with Wesley to many of us who were students at the time. A charismatic leader, he inspired us to give of our very best, in whatever we attempted. Only excellence would do, and many of us responded well. Of my batch (Upper Sixth) eight were emitted to the University of Ceylon on the results, of both, a written examination, as well as a viva voce. Those were the days (with Sir Ivor Jennings at the helm of our only University) when excellence was expected of scholars; and Wesley responded magnificently. The previous batch had two entrants, so this was a great leap forward. The credit for creating such an intellectual climate goes to James Cartman, primarily , as Wesley's great leader, and to those magnificent men and women who taught us not mere "subjects", but unfolded vistas of knowledge - triggering off creativity and inculcating in us sound values during our sojourn as students.
Buddhist and Hindu, Moor and Malay intermingled well with the Christian core of the College, resulting in a rich, diverse , harmonious whole. These were the very ingredients of Nationhood. These values that have stood us in good stead, giving us a vibrancy and dynamism that have been invaluable in later life. Cartman once again looms in legendary proportion when one thinks of Sports at Wesley. He not only created the greatest enthusiasm for sports but taught us how to meet victory and defeat, with an unique blend of good grace and humility. They were wholesome values and Wesley was the anvil at which many a good life was forged. Wesley's War Cry, ZAM ZAM ZAKE..... devised by James Cartman -which has become synonymous with Wesley and epitomises our uniqueness as it welded together all the segments that constituted the Wesley of our time, in particular; and down the years since then. It has also served as a rallying point for Wesleyites scattered around the world . No "Double Blue" gathering in Melbourne ends without Cartmans's war cry shattering the tranquility of the night.
Dick Hensman will always be remembered as a great teacher of English. He made alive in us a "feel" for the language- a sensitivity to words; subtle shades of meaning; imagery; innuendo and nuances- that mere mortals like us could so easily have missed! Passages of prose and verse were diligently analysed, under, sense; intention; feeling and tone. Was there too much (slushy) emotion in a passage of writing ? Was emotion well controlled ? Was it totally lacking ? What of the writers intention ? Has it been economically achieved ?
Maurice Weerasuriya was another master who inspired us immensely. He was our Botany teacher in form IV. Botany with Maurice became a very exciting and living science. Many trips to the gardens at Wesley where be identified plants and discussed their features still remain in our minds. We had grafted many a plant in Carty's garden.
David Wilson was a delightfully mischievous saint (not Simon Templar). His sense of humour was boundless. He is, perhaps, the greatest Chaplain Wesley has ever had. An outstanding Athlete of his time with several public schools' records to his credit (four in one afternoon alone !) was a brilliant medical student , a course of study which he abandoned to become a great Christian Minister in the widest and most acceptable _ sense of the term. His life of simplicity and staunch and steadfast values of being fair and reasonable at all times gave great depth to Wesley's spiritual life in our time.
John Isaac was also Master in charge of Hockey- a coloursman fresh from the University of Ceylon. He worked hard at giving the team the finer points of the game and produced stalwarts such as Natty Prins, Harold Matthysz, Bertus Perera (JVB) and Brian Jacotine.
Eric Gunasekera was Headmaster. He was in turn feared, and respected; respected and feared. One trembled at his awesome presence. Dressed in an immaculate white suite (sometimes with Jaffna Cigar in his hand) he held the Scales of Justice, admirably. One was either right or wrong. There was no middle path. " You will end up' there, my lad!" was one of his devices to get us to give up our slothful ways and do our homework. 'There" meant the Welikade Prison right opposite Wesley ! He was in addition a good teacher of Latin. As we grew older (and wiser ? Not necessarily) came to know him better and found him a good teacher of Latin. He was a great Headmaster who did not compromise on the high ideals he strove hard to inculcate . His philosophy once discerned was simple. Good behaviour - loosely called " discipline' was a prerequisite, an essential prerequisite - to all Wesley's endeavours. Every achievement of value stemmed from this concept
Dick (R.A.Honter): was the lifeblood of Wesley spans. He was the Prefect of Games or its equivalent. His unbounded bursts of energy propelled us to the very zenith of Wesley's prowess in Athletics. He also coached us in Hockey, whilst also coaching our junior cricketers, admirably fielding first. Catches on the run; catches at ankle and belly level ! If one could not field, one had perhaps to take to Volley ball. That's how he looked at "suitability". Batting and bowling came thereafter, and the training was gruelling. Amongst the hundreds of athletes which Dick Honter trained were Nalin Wirasekera (sprints), Brian Jacotine (Hurdles), M.A.M.Sheriff (Hop Step & Jump and Long Jump) - Sheriff represented Ceylon at the Empire Games in Auckland ,New Zealand in 1949- T.Alalasunderam (sprints), Norman de la Harpe (High Jump) and lan Campbell (High Jump) and those of the ilk of Neil Joseph, who "also ran"!
J. E. de Silva (Blue Feather) and B.R.Blaze (Bruised Reed) were our enthusiastic Scout masters. We got immense pleasure from roaming the misty hills and mountains and valleys, following trails in densely wooded land -roughing out- always beaming and self reliant. I recall specially the hikes to Horton Plains (7000 ft) in biting cold and crisp penetrating winds; often in dense mist Our devouring hot buns by the dozen at the boutique by the tunnel at Ohia, as the sun rose to give us a brand new day of enthusiastic living - breathing the fresh mountain air and drinking from crystal clear streams. A subsequent hike was combined with following a blazed nail to Pidurutalagala (8281 ft). This was memorable. We may have devoured a week's rations on the way up, washed down with a drink made of powdered lemon purchased from Mabel Stores (ex British Army)
L.B.Fernando: was our mentor in Form 111, having succeeded Cyril Beach of Australia who was class master for a term. Beach wrestled for twenty minutes or more daily to mark the attendance register. There were Upp- senas (Upasena), and Absh-seeka (Abeyesekera) and Vijras (Wijeyeratne) to name a few, and Ish-mael was as far he got with near accuracy. The production of the a Third Form Class magazine, "Silver Strands' ( LB's initiative) enthralled us. Cover designs; mottos; articles preoccupied us. Finally it was by-LB that the Motto was finalised - " The truth shall make you free". I recall writing an article for it about my first voyage outside Ceylon from Talaimanner Pier to Dhanushkodi, on the steamer SS Goshan and the "Breeju -Oberador". I wonder if any my class mates has a copy of this magazine.
My description of the shorelines of Ceylon and India seen midway from the Gesham had greatly excited me. The closeness of the two countries being dramatically brought home to me. My classmates I recall vividly were Derrick Mack ,Neville Weerasekera, (later My Bestman) Archie Singham, Mahroof Ismail, N.R. Perera, Trevor van Rooyen, Errol Juriansz, Edward Roberts (alias Colebrooke) T.B.Kitchil. R.Nalliah, W.R.G.Fernando, W.L.C.Perera, J.V.B.Perera, M.H.M.Meeran, N.S.Jayasundera, Norman de la Harpe, Mahinda Upasena, Gladwyn Wijeyeratne, D.P.Ekanayake, Haleem Ishak, Elmo Juriansz, J.E.Gunasekera, Aubrey Passe, lan Campbell, S. Sooriyarachchi (dubbed the only 100% male in the Class) Maxwell de Alwis and Austin Salgado joined us much later. Other unforgettable moments are when Harold Matthysz (wicket keeper) opened the bowling in Wesleys second Innings against Royal on the University Grounds, Thurstan Road, to capture two wickets for zero runs (Royal were 2 for 0). He was then asked to resume his wicket keeping, by Captain Edmund Dissanayake.
Then later there was the unfortunate hard hit on Edmund's head , which caused grievous injury, by a ball driven by Ronnie Weerakoon, on the STC grounds. Edmund had bowled brilliantly upto then taking six Thomian scalps for a mere fourteen runs. For three months we prayed at assembly for his recovery lead by James Cartman, who spent innumerable hours by his bed- side till he recovered. My reminiscences will not be complete without a reference to Ranis, who was loved dearly by all Wesleyites who knew him. I recall his characteristic stance- arms folded - standing in the entrance to a classroom , waiting for the teacher to stop and invite him in -as he always carried important announcements from the Principal's Office.
On one such occasion, as he was called in, he abruptly strode out, saying he was watching how the class was taught! WCB Perera was the Master and he was not pleased at all; unlike the rest of the class, seismic with laughter. This happened when I was a Teacher at Wesley in the fifties, myself. On another occasion he went round confiding in the Old Boys on the staff that he will be ringing the 3.15 [end of school sessions] bell at 2.45! They were to go home and not make undue fuss of this ! Eric De Silva rushed out of his office and was politely told to " go home!" The sessions for the day had ended at 2.45 pm ! He had earned this privilege after 55 years of service to the school.
Mr Charles Yesudian was a remarkable teacher and a delightful man who exercised great influence over his students with his tolerance, humour and outstanding pastoral gift. His influence spanned over a generation of students at Wesley College in the 1950's. He was curious, thoughtful, and systematic and, consequently, had the attributes of an excellent teacher. He was a born communicator with a quiet but decisive air and always at ease in front of the students. He had the gift to light the vital spark to fire students' interest.
He was one of many fine South Indian teachers who came over to Ceylon in the 1940's and 50's to share their knowledge. Wesley fortunately had 2 of the best, D.P.George for Chemistry and Charles Yesudian for Biology. Mr. Yesudian was from the Southern tip of Cape Cormarin in Nagercoil. He was recruited to teach at Wesley by Rev. James Cartman , the Principal, on a visit to South India. Once I remember asking him whether it was the lucrative pay in Ceylon that attracted him to this job. He answered without any hesitation that he came because he wanted to work at Wesley College.
Mr. Yesudian was an outstanding Biology teacher who contributed enormously to the academic pursuit of botany and Zoology studies, at Wesley College. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of every branch of his subject. He was a successful teacher who, inspired by a love of biology took immense pleasure in educating young people. Mr. Yesudian imparted knowledge and enthusiasm in equal measure. He quickly established a confiding, avuncular rapport with the students.
Mr. Yesudian was always smiling and had a benign and calming effect on everyone. A generation of his students recall with mingled awe and delight his encyclopaedic knowledge, somewhat old-fashioned manner, and mischievous sense of humour. Popular and respected, he taught with authority and dictated his lectures, which all the students copied down every word. It was well known that if you could get a full set of his lecture notes you would all pass with flying colours. Senior students would handover these notes to the juniors. We were immediately impressed by his considerable intelligence, ability and above all his energy. He set tremendously high standards for himself and for his students.
His transparent enthusiasm for Biology was quite contagious and always extracted the best from us all. His quiet, persuasive manner suited us perfectly. He was always ready to discuss and answer queries and problems and there were many, He wore his learning lightly.
I first came across "Yesu" in January of 1956 in the 4th Form when he took our biology. We were all struck by the calmness and serenity he brought to the class. There was pin drop silence except for his lovely rolling South Indian accent. "Yendoderm and Yectoderm" in the differences between plants and animals still remain in my mind with an image of this gentle genius. He gave us copious notes to cover all aspects of the subject. He also taught us how to study and remember facts and to present our knowledge. In the end of term exams, those in his class never got more than 60% and never less than 30%. The former often got a distinction and the latter an ordinary pass in the GCE exam. Yesudian earned the respect of the whole class. I still recall his account of the life cycle of the butterfly and the diagrams which he drew with utmost care. These fine detailed coloured drawings were masterpieces of art.
Mr Charles and Mrs. Flora Yesudian
His knowledge of the fauna and flora of Ceylon had no bounds. I remember vividly the field trips to the school garden identifying the plants and animals with their botanical and zoological names. He knew the Latin names of every species that grew and lived there. He gave life to the specimens in his descriptions. His enthusiasm made us want to be biologists. His lectures on Darwin's theory of evolution were memorable classics. His accent was Southern Indian, and so great was his influence on me that even years after, whenever I talked about Biology, I would unconsciously lapse into this accent, so deeply did I hold him in awe.
Those who studied Biology for GCE and proceeded to Botany and Zoology in the 6th Form had Yesudian for 4 years continuosly. As a result we all got to know him well and he became a father figure to many of us. He always had a kind word to those who fared badly in exams with invaluable advice for the future. We spent many happy hours in the Zoology labs doing our practicals, dissections and tackling past papers ably guided by his immense knowledge. Because of his dedication to duty he had wonderful results in all the subjects that he taught specially in the extremely competitive University Entrance Examination. Mr.Yesudian spent hours collecting specimens for the laboratory and labelling them. I saw some of his specimens still being used by students when I visited the School in November 2000.
Mr.Yesudian lived in the hostel in a dimly lit room at the senior end of the dormitory corridor. His neighbour was A.J.Vethanayagam. An intensely private man, he instinctively avoided the public eye. He showed his immense kindness to those in trouble. Being a good Physiologist he gave advice about food and the importance of vegetables and a balance diet. His walkabout during mealtimes was a regular feature in the boarding which many will remember.
He was a deeply religious, modest man and a committed Christian but kept it mostly to himself. He was noted for his humility. Mr Yesudian was always helpful and kind but never was a regular Churchgoer. In all my years with him I have probably seen him angry no more than twice. This in itself a remarkable achievement as we were all in our difficult teenage years bustling with energy and mischief. He never talked about himself. He avoided the subject entirely. It seemed a sort of instinctive, natural humility. His achievements were many, but he had no appetite for discussing them.
He nursed a lifelong passion for Tennis and was a most accomplished tennis player, a game which he played in his youth. Mr Yesudian played a good game and was a regular at the staff tennis court. He was the Master-in Charge of Tennis during his years as a teacher at Wesley.
I can still picture his smiling face and ivory teeth. The jet black curly hair was parted in the middle and he had ebony skin. Yesu was modestly but elegantly dressed in his gaberdine cream coloured suit and matching tie with polished brown shoes. He walked briskly and always wore a smile on his face. His civilising effect on those with whom he came into contact was profound. His passion for teaching; his warmth and kindness to students and colleagues his integrity; and his generosity never ceased to amaze us. He was truly inspirational to the many people he touched. Most of all, he was a wonderful mentor and a role model for an entire generation of students at Wesley. We all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He loved to teach and was a consummate teacher; however, his greatest gift was how much he inspired others to recognize the value of scholarship, integrity, friendship, and compassion. We are profoundly grateful to Mr Yesudian.
What we will remember of Mr. Charles Yesudian is his essential quiet charm, self-effacing nature and pastoral care. He had his own natural modesty and his brilliance as a teacher of Botany and Zoology. A gentle and genial man his curiosity about the world around him never left him. His students know him as an easy-going and communicative teacher. But there is a touch of the hermit to him. He works, he reads, he listens , he observes the world and his experience of it. He gave of his best to his students.
He was gentle in his manner, generous in his praise of others and tremendously compassionate.
We will miss him greatly and will remember him forever. We will miss above all his affection and care which has sustained us throughout our lives.
Putting me to the test,
Encouraging my efforts
As you made me do my best.
Botany and Zoology were a challenge
And you taught me how to cope,
Each day I grew in confidence,
Ability and hope
GRANT HIM O LORD
Tennis Team 1958
P.S.Rodrigo, Mr PH Nonis, Mr. Charles Yesudian, Nalendra Abeysuriya
Sheriff Fallil, Rex De Silva, Senthil Sinniah
Mr. Yesudian left Wesley in December 1961 after 12 years and we were the last to have him as the class master of the 6th Form. Saying goodbye to him was an occasion steeped in emotion as I recall it most vividly. When we returned after the University Entrance Exam in January 1962 it was the loneliness that hit us not seeing him in his favourite chair in the biology lab. I firmly believe that without his initial help I would not have entered the Medical College. Yesu has shown immense kindness to generations of Wesleyites. I have often wondered how life treated him on his return home. He deserved nothing but the very best life could offer. I am reliably informed the passage of years was not kind to him living well beyond the biblical age of three score years and ten in reasonably good health.
Post script: When a long serving member of staff leaves, the sentiment prevails that they will be sorely missed. Rarely is this actually evidenced. The most charismatic and personable members have been relegated to the dim and distant mists of the past. Not so with "Yesu" there was a little less soul particularly in the 6th Form, a little less compassion and little less warmth. The difference was tangible enough to be noticed by all who knew him.
I have been surfing the internet for years trying to locate Mr.Yesudian or his relatives to get information about the great man and I received this letter in reply to an email I sent to Dr.C.A.K.Yesudian on 12/08/2002
Professor C.A.K. Yesudian M.A. (Madras); Ph.D. (TISS) Takemi Fellow (Harvard)
Professor and Head of Department of Health Services Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay
Farewell Signatures and Photo for Mr. Yesudian December 1961
R.Somanathan, LAFA's nephew !!, DM. Arandara, Sarath Ranasinghe, NJNonis, CH De Alwis Jayasinghe, L.S.Jayasinghe, AS Ratnam, Gnanakrishnan,, Rohan Wijesinghe, Siyamala Carson, Ranjith Alwis, Sarath Wickramaratne
LCR Wijesinghe, Daya Perera, Sheriff Fallil, Mr.C.Yesudian, Ranjith Jegasothy, Hamilton Amarasinghe, C.Sathyanathan, ND Amerasekera
Addendum by Dr.C.S.Kumaranayake now living in Canada
Mr. Yesudian was indeed a great teacher and I owe my admission to the Medical Faculty and my professional life to him. A few years ago I tried to get his address when I went to Sri Lanka, but was unsuccessful. From your account of him it appears that he has passed away. It was only a few days before I got your initial e-mail that I was thinking of him. I thought that he must be old and that I should send him some money in appreciation of what he has done for me. Mr. Yesudian was a good tennis player and he had a blue blazer with a MCC crest - Madras Christian College, for which he played tennis. I can picture him like now.
Addendum by Rev.Rohan Wijesinghe now in Canada
I remember our first lesson in Zoology in Form vi (Lower Sixth). Mr. Yesudian asked us to open our note books and write on the inside page of front cover "KNOWING THE BETTER, DOING THE WORSE." Then under it, he asked us to write: 'ALL FLESH IS GRASS." Those were valuable sayings for life. The first was a doorway to understand what we were doing with our lives as youngsters. Somehow quite often our choices proved that statement true. Mr. Yesudian intended us to reflect on this statement in terms of how we lived our days and in terms of how we applied ourselves to our studies. The second, was his attempt to help us keep ourselves in perspective that without vegetation animal life would not survive. How true it is today when we consider the massive environmental catastrophic possibility we, as the human race, are flirting with. Behind his sternness there was honour, dignity and compassion.
He was often heard to make remarks which were funny but at the same time which gently reminded us not to fool around when it came to class work. He would say ANY UNNECESSARY REMARK WILL BE THROWN OUTSIDE THE WINDOW." He would look so stern and serious when he said it. And out of sheer respect and awe for him we would all settle down very soon to the work in hand. What patience he had with us! Mr. Yesudian was a sort of Foster father to many students. I know that when I had a serious matter bothering me, it was quite natural for me to turn to Mr. Yesudian. It was different man you met then. He would take a genuinely keen interest in you and speak to you as a father does with his own son. I had always thought that back in Nagarkoil in South India, he was a Methodist Lay preacher. We loved him because he respected. Few people have evoked a sense of awe and respect from me as Mr. Yesudian has done. I used to send him a Christmas Card for a few years after I left school. He always replied with a kind letter. I shall be grateful to Mr. Yesudian for as long as I live and thank God for God's gift of Mr. Yesudian to so many generations of students at Wesley College.
By Rev Rohan Wijesinghe
In 1972 I took part in a six month Asia Youth Leadership Training programme. This took me to the Philippines for close to four months. I did not know that the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka sent Mr. Vethanayagam for a similar training programme almost as soon as I left the Philippines. I learnt with much sadness from my Philippians Counter part that Mr. Vethanayagam died in a boating accident. I remember some of those boating rides: They were most challenging!!
By Dr. N.D.Amerasekera
I remember Mr.Vethanayagam when he was a Boarding Master. He was a kind and gentle person and was the Master in charge of 1st XI Soccer. He was a warm, human and approachable man, without any pomposity. They all affectionately called him Vetha or "balli" for his rather unusual manner of speech. Vetha left the hostel after marriage but never failed to greet us with a smile on the corridor. Vetha took an active interest in the Tamil stream of the school and remember being involved in many of the Tamil plays. He served the school for well over 25 years. His Christian faith remained a profoundly held conviction throughout his life.
A teacher at Wesley 1947-82
I joined .Wesley in January 1947. The strength of the school was 400 with 25 members of the staff. Rev. James Cartman was the Principal. The first Term of the year was the cricket season. Being a cricketer the Principal took a great interest in the game. Campbell Park had just been vacated by the Forces and the grounds were not ready for use. Our cricket practices were held at the Railway grounds at Mount Mary. Edmund Dissanayake was the Senior Prefect and the Cricket Captain. It was a very successful year where games were concerned. Athletes like M. A. M. Sheriff, Ian Camp- bell and Van Rooyan shone at Public Schools Meets The majority of our boys spoke English and debating teams and "Do You Know", contests were of a very high standard Our lads were popular and had a very good reputation among all the two years after I joined Wesley, the first layman to be appointed Principal of Wesley, Mr. C. J. Oorloff took over from Rev. Cartman.
He was 'responsible for putting up the Highfield Memorial Building and the Wesley College Flats, which no longer belong to the school. There were a number of teachers on the staff whom I remember with great respect. Messrs. Kenneth de Lanerolle, C. J. T. Thamotheram, A. Sethukavalar, Rev. Cyril E. Premawardhana, Ivor de Silva, L. A. Fernando; Mrs. J. Leembruggen and Miss. Iris Blacker, to mention a few. Their dedication to the teaching profession and loyalty to the school, won the respect and admiration of all those who came in contact with them.- I spent five very happy years in the Hostel. There were about ten of us on the Staff. Softball cricket the "Small Park", tennis, volley ball, swimming and other indoor games strengthened our fellowship. The annual excursions organised for the hostellers were experiences never to be forgotten. Every one of us on the Hostel Staff strove to make it a second home for the young ones in our care. It seems as if it was only the other day we had our 75th Anniversary celebrations, when the late Hon. Mr. D. S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of Ceylon, presided at our Prize Giving, and opened the Cartman Library. The years have, flown: Wesley continues to produce the men of grit and industry, that Sri Lanka needs. On the eve of her Centenary, I look back: with pride and thankfullness that I have been able to serve in this institution. I sincerely hope and wish that Wesley will continue in its fine and noble traditions of serving her Mother Land in the field of Education with an equal amount of zeal, zest and fervour that inspired Wesley's pioneers.
Addendum by Dr.N.D.Amerasekera
Mr Wifred Wickramasinghe was a teacher who influenced generations of pupils at Wesley, many of whom remembered him with deep affection. He epitomised the best of the old tradition– firm and hard working. His firmness was mixed with kindness. He had a genuine Christian concern for others.
Mr Wilfred Wickramasinghe was modest and private, with an old-fashioned courtesy and reserve that would occasionally give way to firm utterances. In his professional life, especially as a teacher, he was a formidable figure — but he was essentially kind and warm-hearted. Mr. D.W Wilfred as he was called then was a Hostel Master when I became a boarder in 1952. DWW was an inspirational teacher who nurtured an interest in teaching the basic mathematics, history and geography to a generations of students spanning well over 25 years.
He was a dedicated teacher, who specialized in teaching in the Primary School on their first entry into Wesley. He instilled into them an understanding of the difference between right and wrong, and in taking a pride in their school. He was strict but kind and always immaculately well dressed in brilliant white. In Std 4 he was my class master and I still recall the thrashings we received with the ruler and the pinching of the tummy for various misdemeanours. We weren't angels and these helped to maintain sanity in the classroom. After I moved on to the next class experienced his kindness and generosity. I remember his marriage to the singing teacher Miss. Elna Pinto Jayawardene when we sang in the choir at the Maradana Methodist Church. His son attended Wesley College as they lived in the School Flats. After leaving school I met him many times at Campbell Park watching cricket. He always wore a broad smile which is what I will remember of Mr. Wilfred. I was deeply saddened to hear he passed away in the 1980's. Mrs. Wickramasinghe too have now passed away.
GRANT THEM O LORD
Mr Wilfred Wickramasinghe's son, Athula, is an old Wesleyite and played cricket for the ist XI and also was a prefect in 1972. I am reliably informed he now lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. We wish him well in his new country of domicile.
From the Australian OBU Newsletter September 2012
Recent emails about the Class of 68 -72 Re-union has brought together many Old Boys of that era via the internet. Some had not communicated with their friends for over 40 years. One name that popped up is the featured guest in "Where are they now?" He is Athula Wickramasinghe the son of the late Wilfred Wickramasinghe( Junior School Head Master , Teacher, Book Shop Master and the list of duties are too numerous to mention and Mrs Elna Wickramasinghe who was also a teacher at Wesley.
Athula is married to Shanthi and has 2 daughters and lives in Saskatoon, SK /Canada. He migrated to Canada 19 years ago(1993) and works as a Manager in retail and warehousing.Athula joined Wesley in the same year as myself in 1959 and finished at Wesley in 1973. In his junior years he was a member of Lemphers House and in Senior School in Wilkin. He played Cricket – U14, U16 and 1st Eleven, Hockey – U16 and 1st Eleven and Badminton – Senior's. He was awarded Colours in Cricket and Hockey and won the award for All-round Sportsman for years 1972/1973. His extra curricular activities included Cubs, SCM and junior Choir.
When asked about who his favourite Teachers and Friends were at Wesley, he very diplomatically avoided naming names. "There were many good ones."
His fondest memories of his time at Wesley include scoring a century against Trinity at Asgiriya, Kandy, receiving the award for all-round Sportsman for the year in 1972/1973 and the day he was appointed a Prefect.
After leaving school Athula joined the Sri Lankan Navy as an Officer Cadet in 1973 and retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 1987. He then joined Air Lanka as an Executive in 1987 and migrated to Canada in 1993 where he has worked as a Manager in Retail and Warehouse. I would like to thank Athula for sparing the time to fill us in on his whereabouts in between organising his daughters wedding. We wish him the very best for the future and hopefully one day we may meet again.
1st XI Cricket Team 1973
Standing :- K. Dayaparan, E. Solomons, M. Samaraweera, L. Fernando, R. Koch, D. Sellamuttu, A. Wickramasinghe, R. Kern, S.A. de Silva, C. Peiries
Seated :-Mr. A.S. Wirasinha(Principal), W. Vandort, A. Wickramasinghe, G. Harmer (V.Captain), O. Dissanayake (Captain), R. Devadason, G. Peiries, Mr. L.C.R. Wijesinghe (Master in charge), Mr. D. Fernando (V. Principal)
1st XI Hockey Team 1973
Front Row L-R : Mr Shelton Wirasinge,
Athula Wickremasinge, Asoka Karunaratne ,Chris Harvie ©, Mervyn Lye, Geethal Pieris, Mr A K Suppiah
Mr Dunstan Fernando
Back Row :Nandala Hemachandra, Hettiarchi, ?????????, Lalith Hemachandra,
Russell Kern, ?????????, Shanthi Sadanandan, Claude De Silva
My father joined Wesley College as a teacher in the primary school and later on he became the Head Master. He was the Master in Charge of Lemphers House in the Primary School before he became the Head Master. He was also the Master in Charge of Cubs, Badminton and was in charge of the college book store before he handed over to Mr.E.L.Rodrigo. (Editor - Who could ever forget his reference to Square Ruled Books as "Kota Rule Books".)
For many years he was the chief organizer of the Primary School annual concert, prize giving and sports meet. He used to very often go and watch Wesley at play in Cricket – Hockey - Badminton and would take me along when I was small and that is how I became interested in sports.
He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree around 1961-1962 and there after his favourite subject was Geography. During his latter stages at College he taught Geography in grades 9 -12. He was so devoted that he hardly took any time off during the time the school was in session and I cannot recall him taking a sick day until he got a serous heart attack in 1972. Even then the doctor recommended 3 months rest, but he went back after 2 months as he could not stay at home.
After he retired in December of 1981 he became the Treasurer of the Wesley College Welfare Society. He was very happy to be involved with the school once again that every time he came to the Welfare Office he used to go around the class rooms talking to the teaches and his students.
He always wore a white shirt and pants right throughout his career and even after retiring he wore the same when ever he came for any Welfare Board work.
He married Elna Pinto Jayawardene, who was a teacher in the Primary School in December of 1952.
He passed away on 30 May 1985, and even on that day he came to school for his Welfare Board work, went around as usual and spoke to the staff and students.
Joined Wesley College as a teacher in the primary school and after serving for a few years she left to join the Teachers Training College at Maharagama. During her brief period at Wesley College she took a very keen interest in the primary school annual concert, prize giving and the sports meet. Even after leaving Wesley College she was very much involved in the school activities due to my father and also because I was a student. After retiring she came and worked in the school Welfare Office from 1984 to 1988.
My earnest desire was to get a teaching appointment at Wesley College. In December, 1945, the Rev. Cartman took the Christmas Service at Kalmunai and that morning he saw me in Church. As soon as the service was over, he came to me and asked me what I was doing. I told him that I had completed my vernacular Training and rejoined Methodist Central College, to continue my English Education. He suggested that I should join the staff of Wesley and that he would make arrangements for my higher studies too. I joined Wesley on January 16th, 1946, and stayed at the hostel where I participated in Sports. . Wesley College had about 500 boys and 32 teachers during that time. The Cartman era was a golden one. Wesley produced many a civil servant. Doctor, Engineer and in the field of Sports record was reached in athletics. I should also like to mention that Edmund Dissanayake and Shelton Peiris were exemplary Senior Prefects. We had only the English stream in the whole school and later in 1946 the Sinhalese and Tamil streams, I have to record the services of Mr. R.A. Honter in coaching our Athletes and a very high standard was reached during the years 1946-50. M.A.M. Sheriff represented Ceylon at the Empire Games, held in New Zealand.
In soccer too T. D. Samidon represented Ceylon Schools at the Youth Soccer Tournament in Bangkok in 1966. I recall the famous athletes and sportsmen like H.L. Matthysz, T. Van Rooyen, M.D. W. Gunatileke, T.D. Samidon, S. Karangoda, T. Alalasundaram, A. J. Pathmarajah, M. Razark, B. N. Jurangpathy, A. K.David, who are now holding posts of great responsibility. I was involved in the Tamil Literary Unions in the Primary and Senior Schools during this long period of 28 years. Mr. C.L Joseph and Mr. R. R.Ariyanayagam were responsible for starting these 'Unions, and the 25th anniversary was celebrated on a grand scale in 1967. The whole school contributed plays and dramas and Tamil elocution contests. In 1947 too we staged a Tamil play in connection with our Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. I was fortunate enough to be selected to undergo a training course in. athletics, in 1947 under the care of. Mr. Brian Little, the Director of Physical Education, University of Ceylon, Colombo. It was during this period that I had the opportunity of visiting foreign countries such as England, Australia and India, and gathered much knowledge. ', This is my 28th year at Wesley, and I am pleased to say that the School is growing from strength to strength under the able guidance-of the present Principal Mr.A.S. Wirasinghe. Prize-Givings Founders Day, Sports Meets, P. T. A. Variety 'Entertainments Wednesday Assembly Talks, and S.C.M. are all well done with much creative ability. Our College music, radio plays, speech contests, Sarvodaya Movements are all reaching excellent standards. I consider it a great privilege to be at Wesley during her Centenary. 'May Wesley march on "to the fore" to produce men of grit and industry in the years to come
GRANT HIM O LORD
A Teacher at Wesley 1958-1990
Wesley has been blessed with teachers who have been involved in the main stream of cultural activity in the country and so it is no surprise to see reflected in her own traditions some of the best tendencies and fruits of these movements. To mention but a. few, names such as the late Rev. Maxwell de Alwis, Kenneth de Lanerolle, Basil Mihiripanne, Rev. Shelton de Silva, Jayantha Premachandra. Ivor de Silva, Mary Colin Thome, Mrs. Oorloff, David Joseph, J.E.de Silva, Shelton Wirasinghe, Felix Premawardhana. Rev. Trevenna will always be synonymous with the arts at Wesley. The pressure for creative work was happily supplied by annual events in the College Calendar such as: The Primary School Concert The Founder's Day Service, The Prize Giving, and the Inter-House One-Act Play Competitions (in three media). Then there were, the Inter Collegiate One-Act Play Competitions (three media) organised by the Arts Council of Ceylon and the Peter Pillai Social Service Institute. The Wesley College Choir participated in Carol Services at St. Luke's Church Borella and the Kollupitiya Methodist Church. The Choir also sang at the Festival of Choirs and The Festival of School Choirs at the New Cathedral, Bauddhalokha, Mawatha. There were also the programmes organised by the S.L. B.C., more particularly the Christmas Broadcast of the Wesley College Choir. The Choir is invariably a. hundred Strong at Christmastide.
Between "A-Lad-in-out" produced in the fifties and the" "Christmas Opera" staged at the Lionel Wendt Theatre in 1971, one remembers the staging of a number of Oriental Ballets and One-Act plays such as "The Doctor in Spite of Himself", "Can Die but Once", "Mateo Falcone" A Night at an Inn', "The Man in a Bowler Hat" and of course "The Boy with a Cart" which won the Inter-School Drama Competition. This year, the College Choir hopes to produce "Naththal Nadagam" an adaptation of "Christmas Opera", as a Centenary presentation.
When Wesley celebrated her centenary on the 2nd of March 1974, one recalled with joy the name of Revd. James Cartman, Wesley's sporting Principal during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 1949, who was in fact largely responsible for the re-building of post-war Wesley. The Revd. James came as Principal of Wesley, in March 1945, at a most trying time when our own buildings, so sacred to Wesleyites past and present were under Military occupation, making it obligatory, under much stress and strain to carry on as best as we could, both at Carey College and at "Kityakkara" a private house, right opposite the Ramachandras at Campbell Place. Our playing fields at Campbell Park too had been requisitioned. The Revd. Cartman was however quick to negotiate with the authorities, and through his dogged insistence and pleas, the buildings were re- leased by the Military. In December 1945, third of December to be exact, I had the privilege as a student of leading an excited procession of students and members of the staff back to our very dear home at Karlsruhe. What we entered into on that memorable day was not the imposing old Wesley, but a Military hospital cum prison over grown and literally concealed with bushes! Yet from this state of depression and desolation, the Revd. James Cartman, fanned hope, and sparing neither time nor energy, both the Revd. James and Mrs. Cartman worked feverishly to create the Wesley image. With Christine, their daughter a toddler To be cared for Mrs Cartman yet shared with her great husband the anxiety and concern for the post-war rehabilitation of Wesley. As a keen sportsman, despite heavy work, he always identified himself with sports of the school, and had the distinction of being elected the first President of the Schools' Cricket Association.
Mr. Cartman's broad sympathy, tact, kindness and above all his avowed desire to re-build post-war Wesley, kindled a new flame in the hearts of all students, infusing in them a like eagerness to add their share to the heroic task he initiated. His weekly discourses at the morning assembly on the formation of character, his free movement with the boys on the playing fields, contributed in no small degree to the excellent discipline post-war Wesley was taking on. Among the contributions The Revd. Cart- man made to Wesley were the extensions by way of the upper storey a dream of ages which came true through the enterprise of Revd. James Cartman. Emulating the example of Rev. Henry Highfield, he personally went round to Old Boys, parents and friends of the school collecting funds for those ex- tensions. The extensions were ready and completed in time for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in 1949. The Revd. Cartman's retirement brought to a close the line of great Missionary Principals at Wesley. Edmund Dissanayake
1st May, 1876, a day to be remembered in the history of Education in Sri Lanka. Richmond College was inaugurated on that day, as the 'Galle High School'. Rev. Samuel Langdon was our first principal. He undertook to leas the school through numerous hardship in those early years, towards victory and glory. Rev. Langdon first arrived in Ceylon as a Methodist missionary in 1870. He began his teaching career at Wesley College, Colombo, the leading Methodist educational institute in the country. He was then entrusted with the responsibility of steering Richmond through the crucial period of initial development. He was principal from 1876 to 1879, and the experience he gathered at Wesley would have stood him in good stead. He was one of the pioneers in science education who introduced to Ceylon new techniques in science teaching.
In a message issued to the College science magazine "Vidya Thilina" in 1976, Rev. Small described him as a pioneer of science education of Sri Lanka. Methodist Mission records show the outstanding services Rev. Langdon had rendered in establishing science education in various Methodist educational institutes spread over the country. Some of these documents are as follows:- "Sathyalankaraya" newspaper of 26th March, 1879 "Sathyalankaraya" of 13th march, 1878 An article headed "Note of Science Teaching" published in the newspaper "Ceylon Friend". Rev. Langdon also stressed the importance of religion in education. He was responsible for the award of the Park Scholarship for Religious knowledge. Due to his tremendous zest for work, he was able to increase the number of students considerably during his 3 years as principal.
Rev. Langdon was a popular figure among the locals. He was always concerned about the religious activities in the area. He left Richmond in 1879 and occupied himself with the work of God in the central province, with the assistance of his capable wife. The Langdon's were chiefly instrumental in the establishment of the Girls High School as well as a technical school for girls in Kandy. "Langdon House", situated in Badulla, was built in his honour for the services he had rendered in the Uva region. Rev. Langdon also did noticeable services as the editor of the "Ceylon Friend".
From the School of Oriental and African Studies in London
The following biographical information on the Rev Samuel Langdon was gleaned from his obituary in the Wesleyan Methodist Minutes of Conference for 1908. Langdon was born in Gunnislake, Cornwall, on Christmas Day 1847. He was accepted as a candidate for the ministry in 1870 and trained at Richmond College, Surrey. He began his ministerial career as a missionary in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] in 1873. During his service in a number of Ceylon districts he served as an evangelist, a college principal and the Chairman & Superintendent of the Kandy District. He was also involved in the founding of orphanages, industrial schools and day schools. In 1897 he returned permanently to England due to a combination of impaired health and family reasons. He died on 17th March 1908 in Wellington, Shropshire. Archives & Special Collections, Library,
School of Oriental & African Studies,
London WC1H 0XG
The garrison town of Diyatalawa is, as its name denotes, a ‘watered valley,’ nestled between Haputale and Bandarawela, in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Less known than Nuwara Eliya and Kandy, this eucalyptus and pine encrusted hill station has been associated with the military for almost a century. It is perhaps for this reason that the average Sri Lankan (with no military background) has little to no knowledge of it. But we hope to change this, because it is a pity to leave such a quaint location unexplored, at least in our national imagination.
To many who have been there, Diyatalawa has proved itself to be an ideal off-the-beaten-track holiday destination. There is no record of there being any kings or queens or important battles won or lost in Diyatalawa. To some, this makes Diyatalawa seem uninteresting, and non-existent, from a historical point of view. But to others, this is precisely what makes the little town and the few tidbits of information there is on it all the more intriguing.Diyatalawa, the watered valley.
Happy Valley Perhaps the oldest piece of writing on Diyatalawa is a book by the name of The Happy Valley: Our New ‘Mission Garden’ in UVA, Ceylon, by Rev. Samuel Langdon, a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, Ceylon. Rev. and Mrs. Langdon were two Wesleyan (Methodist) missionaries, with a story of their own, which we feel is worth touching on here.
Rev. Langdon first arrived in Ceylon in 1870. He began his mission as a teacher at Wesley College, Colombo, and was later entrusted with the responsibility of steering Richmond College, Galle, as its Principal, through its initial years of development. The Langdons were also instrumental in setting up Girls’ High School, Kandy.Rev. Langdon is said to have earned a reputation for establishing “science education” across Ceylon. Articles in the Sathyalankaravaya newspaper, dated March 13, 1878, and March 26, 1879, indicate the high esteem in which he was held amongst education circles at the time.
In fact, in 1976 a Richmond College science magazine by the name of Vidya Thilina described Rev. Langdon as a “pioneer of science education in Sri Lanka.”It would seem that Rev. Langdon’s passion for science grew alongside his calling as a missionary. Having a heart for serving people, upon retirement from the office of Principal of Richmond College in 1879, Rev. and Mrs. Langdon leased a piece of land from the Colonial Government and set up an orphanage and an industrial school. The location they picked to do this was none other than Diyatalawa, which became to them ‘Happy Valley.’ The Langdons’ Happy Valley mission station included – apart from the orphanage and industrial school – a mission house, a hospital, and a chapel.With the establishment of the HappyValley mission, the rolling hills of Diyatalawa, which were largely uninhabited until then, began to slowly develop into a quaint settlement.
In time, quiet tea plantations were established in the vicinity, and more plots of Colonial Government-held land surrounding it were given on lease to various parties wishing to set up holiday homes in them hills.Prisoners Of War Happy Valley soon became an attractive little settlement – so attractive that in April 1900, soon after the British went to war with the Boers (i.e. South Africans of Dutch, German, or Huguenot descent, now known as Afrikaners), Rev.Langdon and his mission were asked to move out so that the Colonial Government could set up a Prisoner of War (POW) camp on the mission site.
This aspect of Diyatalawa’s history is featured in R. L. Brohier’s The Boers Prisoner of War, found in Volumes XXXVI of 1946 and XXXVII of 1947 of the Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union (JDBU). In Volume XXXVI of 1946 of the JDBU, R. L. Brohier confirms that the “…pioneer effort of Missionary enterprise was consequently the inspiration which invested Diyatalawa with a fame and prominence few could have anticipated for it.”R.L. Brohier goes on to state that, “Barely three weeks [after the Langdons were asked to vacate Happy Valley]… There followed the most remarkable exhibition of what organised local labour can accomplish…” The development that is recorded as having taken place was phenomenal.
It is stated that “All day, and even into the night, the valley throbbed to the toil of builders and engineers. Labourers in gangs of hundreds, a large proportion of them being women, moved to and fro carrying earth to hand-carts that passed up and down a network of roadways.” Arc and flare lamps are said to have been provided to light up the barriers at night, and electric lights had been provided to all the military and staff buildings.
There was even an aerial tramway that was set up to run on “Eiffel Tower like structures” for conveying stores. A road was also constructed from the railway station to the camp. Within as short a time as ten weeks, “… as if by a miracle, what but a while ago was a bleak patana punctured by a few straggling buildings, materialised into a veritable town of silver sheen…”The first batch of Boer POWs landed in Colombo on August 9, 1900, from aboard the Mohawk, while further batches of POWs arrived on the island from time to time until June 1901.
It is said that the POW camp in Diyatalawa, originally planned to accommodate 2,500 POWs and a guard of 1,000 men, ended up having to hold 4,735 POWs out of a total of 5,089 POWs who were brought and interned in Ceylon.Boer POW camp. R.L. Brohier speculates that despite Diyatalawa being a POW camp, the POWs impression (and, we hope, experience) of it may have been less than forlorn: “…who can venture to doubt that [when the POWs first stepped out of the train to Diyatalawa] it must have been with a shock of delight that they beheld in that vast panoramic landscape many of the characteristics of their own country. Here indeed were… mountains as rugged and as full of cover as their own—South Africa all over again” and that “Surely… nothing was wanting in this choice of a locality to alleviate the lot of the Boer who had to be kept under restraint in Ceylon.”
Based on this speculation, perhaps we may imagine that the legacy of Happy Valley lingered even in the POW camp.In any event, after the Boer War ended in 1902, the POWs were sent back to South Africa, and Diyatalawa became somewhat of a ghost town.From Ghost Town To Garrison TownBearing in mind the salubrious climate of Diyatalawa, the Governor at the time, Sir West Ridgeway, authorised the abandoned camp ‒ which was by this time fitted out with a first class broad gauge railway, ideal for the movement of troops at short notice ‒ to be used as a Rest and Recreation Camp for the military, an encampment for the Ceylon Volunteers (later Ceylon Defense Force), and for the Ceylon Survey Department.
In the mid-1940s, ‘Thistle Camp’ was set up, and it is said that during World War II, Italian internees were accommodated at Diyatalawa. After Independence from the British, the Ceylon Army Recruit Training Depot (later called the Army Training Centre, now known as the Sri Lanka Military Academy) was established in Diyatalawa. The Air Force Cadet Training School was also moved to Diyatalawa in 1952.
The establishment of a permanent military presence in Diyatalawa resulted in it being gradually transformed from a POW camp into the fully fledged garrison town it is today.Despite the development, however, there is still plenty of ‘old world charm’ in Diyatalawa. For example, the hill on which today’s Sri Lanka Military Academy stands is ‘Thistle Hill,’ which was part of the landscape of Thistle Camp. It is said that Thistle Hill got its name from the insignia it bore of HMS Thistle, a Royal Navy vessel. Although the camp is no longer called Thistle Camp, and the insignia is no more to be seen on the hill, a beautiful bungalow by the name of ‘Thistle House’ still stands there. It is surrounded by an impeccable English style garden, bearin witness to a bygone era. Thistle House was designed in the early 1950s by Mrs. Reid (wife of the then Commander of the Ceylon Army) who was an architect by profession. The house served, until quite recently, as the holiday bungalow for both past and present Army Commanders.Another beautiful old bungalow, though not quite as grand, is one called ‘Steps.’ Built in 1905 by the Royal Navy, Steps has served for almost 50 years as home to the Commandants of the Army Training Centre/Sri Lanka Military Academy, and has, as such, been a silent partner to the officers who have shaped the history of the Academy.Other notable buildings in the military camp itself include the Gemunu Watch Officers’ Mess (formerly ‘Rangala Camp’ of the Navy), the old Diyatalawa Army Station Officers Mess, and Elle Camp.Must-See SitesNow that you have some background, if you ever do visit Diyatalawa, there are a number of must-see sites in and around it that you should not pass ignorantly by. We must warn you, however, that some of these are simple, almost easy to miss sites, which you would not be able to spot or appreciate without having understood their historic significance.1. The Boer Cemetery:Of the sites in and around Diyatalawa, the Boer Cemetery is the most relevant to Diyatalawa’s Boer War history.
A total of 141 Boer POWs are said to have died in the POW Camp between 1900 and 1902, and they, along with the British servicemen who died during the same period, are said to be buried in the Boer Cemetery, on Boer Road, next to the present rifle range in Diyatalawa. Sadly however, the Boer Cemetery is not maintained (unlike all the Commonwealth cemeteries) by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Therefore there is, unfortunately, very little left of the Boer Cemetery in Diyatalawa.
In its day, each grave is said to have been marked with a wooden Celtic cross. Today all that stands is a (heavily run down) monument built in 1918 with the inscription, “In memory of the Prisoners of War who died at Diyatalawa Camp who were buried near this stone. Erected by the Government of United South Africa, 1918.”The Boer cemetery.Fox Hill is possibly the only site in Diyatalawa known to Sri Lankans outside the military fraternity.
It gets its name from the insignia of a fox and the letters and numbers ‘HMS Fox 1913’ made from white granite being placed against its sprawling green slopes. While it is commonly (albeit mistakenly) held that this insignia was put in place by the Boer POWs, it is more accurate to consider it possible that the insignia was the work of sailors who arrived in Ceylon in 1913 aboard the Royal Navy vessel HMS Fox, which captured two German merchant ships off Colombo in 1914. In any event, Fox Hill’s present significance is that it is the central feature of the motor racing track that has been built adjacent to it, where the famous ‘Fox Hill Supercross’ races take place every April.The Fox Hill Supercross is held in Diyatalawa every April. this has nothing to do with the TV series. One Tree Hill is a small mound of earth, crowned with a single tree of the Banyan family, located close to Fox Hill. This tree is estimated to have been planted around the turn of the last century, and the little hill, which is 4,298 feet above sea level, was referred to as “One-Tree Hill” on a map of Ceylon printed in 1941, for which a survey had been carried out in 1917. The tree has been specially treated since the year 2000 in order to conserve it for its historic significance.
Adisham Monastery Built in 1931, Adisham Hall (now Adisham Monastery) is just 11.8 kilometres from Diyatalawa. Adisham Monastery was a house which once belonged to the British aristocrat and tea planter, Sir Thomas Lester Villiers (former Chairman of George Steuart Co.). Sir Thomas was a grandson of Lord John Russell and a descendant of the Dukes of Bedford.The Adisham Monastery. Named after a village and civil parish in the English county of Kent, Adisham was designed in Tudor and Jacobean style. It is said to have played host to many prominent personalities of the colony until the retirement of Sir Thomas. Afterwards, it was sold to Sedawatte Mills and later purchased by the Roman Catholic Church and converted into the Benedictine monastery it is today.
The English country-cottage style gardens and the original Adisham Hall are open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and school holidays.Significantly, Adisham is one of only 18 monasteries in the world belonging to the Sylvestrine Congregation, a sub-order of the Benedictine fraternity, founded in the 13th Century.Off to one side of the beautiful monastery, where we imagine Sir Thomas stabled his horses, you will find a small shop selling chutneys, jams, cordials, and fresh strawberries, produced from the orchards around the monastery.5. Mythical waterfalls If you do venture as far out as Diyatalawa, you are closer than you think to two of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. Just a half hour’s drive from Diyatalawa town is Diyaluma Falls, the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, ranked 361 in the world. Diyaluma Falls. At 220m high, “Diyaluma” means “liquid light.” According to Sri Lankan folklore, this is where a young chieftain, who, wanting to be with the woman he loved, and had been banished from the kingdom, tragically lost his love in an attempt to haul her up over the escarpment. The gods were said to have been so moved by the spectacle that they caused a stream of water to gush from the mountain to veil all evidence of the tragedy. The beautiful waterfall is totally worth a visit.Similarly, an hour’s drive on the Badulla road from Diyatalawa will take you to Ravana Falls ‒ one of the widest waterfalls on the island. The falls are named after the mythical King Ravana featured in the Ramayana.
Legend has it that King Ravana had hidden the Indian Princess Sita (whom he had kidnapped) in the caves behind this waterfall.So there you have it ‒ at least five breathtaking reasons to hop on a train to Diyatalawa the next chance you get – even if the only time your family or friends will agree to go with you is in April, for the Fox Hill Supercross Races. When you do venture out, which we hope you will, be sure to steal away from the crowd, at least for a minute or two, to sit quietly and soak in the stories written all over those beautiful hills.[Sources include R. L. Brohier’s ‘The Boers Prisoner of War,’ found in Volumes XXXVI of 1946 and XXXVII of 1947 of the Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union; Air Vice Marshal A. B. Sosa’s ‘History of the Sri Lanka Air Force Diyatalawa and the Regiment’ (2016); Captain K. A. S. N. Senaratne’s Article in the booklet published for the 50th anniversary of the Gemunu Watch.
We remember with much gratitude the immense contribution made by Rev Samuel Langdon and his wife to Methodism and Education in Ceylon
GRANT HIM O LORD
14th Sept 2012
By Mudaliyar C.E.C Bulathsinghala JP
From the Wesley College Archives
Eric A. Gunasekera Esq J.P. Head Master of Wesley College
Wesley College has been fortunate in her HeadMasters the first was a giant both physically and in mental calibre. Mr. CP Dias was affectionately called 'Pappa" Dias. Closely associated C. P. Dias was Mr. W. E. Mack. CP Dias was succeeded by an illustrious Headmasters - Mr. J. L. C. Rodrigo, CV Honter, Mr. F. J. Lemphers and Eric Gunasekera.
Eric Gunasekera hailed from a family of great distinction. His father Mr. Francis Perera was a close relative of one of the greatest philanthropists, Gate Mudaliyar Rajapakse, His father held a position of responsibility in the Wharfage Company and was a Justice of the Peace. His elder brother Frank Gunasekera, was a popular physician and was Deputy of the Senate and a Knight. His younger brother Donald Gunasekera rose to a position of the highest eminence in the Wharfage Company. He is also a Justice of the peace. So was Sir Frank Gunasekera.
Eric Arthur Gunasekera was born on the year 1889. He was the second son of Francis Gunasekera J.P. He was the President of the Wharfage Company. Eric Gunasekera was admitted to Wesley in September 1896. He had an excellent career at Wesley and ended with honours in the Cambridge Senior. He made his mark in Cricket too, being a fine batsman who top scored in many school matches. When Mr. C. A. Perera, a brilliant cricketer, gave up the captaincy there were three Seniors in the team. They were Eric Gunesekera, R. E. S. Mendis and Sammy Gunasekera. The late Mr. C. P. Dias told me that Mr. Eric Gunasekera came to his house and told him "Sir why shouldn't Freddy be the captain?" Freddy Dias was then only one year in the team. Mr. C. P. Dias drove Mr. Eric Gunasekera away with the remark "This boy will lose all the matches." But Mr. C. V. Honter took the matter in hand and asked Eric Gunasekera to propose Freddy Dias's name. This was seconded by R. E. S. Mendis, and Freddy Dias was elected unanimously. Freddy justified his election splendidly. This shows the unselfish nature of Mr. Eric Gunasekera.
Mr. Eric Gunasekera joined the Staff of Wesley College in September 1908. He retired in 1949. Consequently his connection with Wesley College continued unbroken from 1896 to 1949 - A record that has not been broken as far as Wesley is concerned. Whereas others went to various Colleges to better their fortunes, Eric Gunasekera's loyalty and unselfish nature kept him tied to Wesley College. I used often when I was in his class to recite the memorable lines "'about the Village School master" before him. He was really a living embodiment of that cherished and much admired figure. The love he bore to Teaching was great, the love he bore to his College was even greater. Mr. Gunasekera was appointed as Head-Master of Wesley College in 1943. As an administrator he was almost in a class by himself. The administrative talents of his illustrious predecessors in office seemd to have descended upon his shoulders with redoubled force, just as the Mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha. From September 1944 to March 1945 Wesley was without a Principal. Wesley was without a home too. These were the darkest days of the War, when Victory and defeat hung in the balance. No other man could have borne the burden so admirably.
Eric Arthur Gunasekera. I used to visit him daily those days along with Mr. Perera Molligode, a former Cricket captain. Eric Gunasekera never lost faith in the high destiny that lay ahead of Wesley. Every letter written to me by Rev. H. Highfield from England contained an inquiry about Wesley and about the manly part Eric Gunasekera was playing. Rev. Highfield one letter said "I feel proud of Mr. E. Gunasekera and I do not think that I have done the work he is doing so satisfactorily. "
Mr. Eric Gunasekera departed this life on 2nd August 1967. Wesley closed on the 2nd as a mark of respect to Mr. Gunasekera. He won a crown on earth by moulding the lives of thousands of young men. He had won a great crown above.
Headmaster 1908 to 1949
Transcribed from the 125th Anniversary souvenir
One could hardly believe, looking over Pettah, that it was the residential quarter of middle class Sinhalese, Burgher and Muslim families; and that schools such as Wesley, Royal and St.Thomas' began life in surroundings which any modern educationist would condemn for sheer unsuitability. The city's expanding commerce gradually pushed out the early residents and these schools were soon compelled to look for better sites in other parts of Colombo or the suburbs where substantial buildings and spacious playing fields could adequately meet demands of a fast growing school population. But Wesley boys had then to be content with the dingy, ill-ventilated, overcrowded class rooms, where amidst the confused row and roar and bustle of Pettah- a medley of " sound and fury" - a devoted set of simple men, imbued with the ideals which the ancient gums held sacred, strove hard to give of their best in knowledge and example to the pupils who sat at their feet as it were; alive to the fact that from among this motley crowd might rise men of integrity and high ideals, who would play their part as men of affairs, and of whom their Alma Mater could justly be proud.
Our school compound was only suitable for a game of marbles then. A passage in dictation read aloud in a class was very often clearly heard by the clerks at the Kachcheri - so loud had a teacher to read if he wanted to be heard. For games, we had to make a best of what Price Park, the meeting ground of the riffraff of Pettah, had to offer. And yet it proved to be the training ground of some of the bright stars in the firmament of Ceylon cricket. C.E.Perera, who later turned out to be Ceylon's finest right -hand bat, Warish and W.O.Nathanielsz, the ever green S.P-Foenando, who captained Wesley for three successive years, CE's brother C.A., the prolific run- getter, and F.W.Dias gave to Price Park a particular significance. It was Highfield of Wesley who admitted me, two years after he became Principal in 1895. Soon after his arrival Wesley came into the limelight, when, for two successive years the " blue riband" of academic achievement - the University Scholarship- was secured by E.B.Redlich and R.F.Honter. In the field of sport too, and cricket in particular, Wesley made its mark, beating From the very start Highfield's heart was set on moving the College from this uncongenial spot.
And towards 1902 a site was acquired. Five and a half acres at Karlsrhue, the former residence of the great patriot Charles Ambrose Lorensz. Apart from this grand old house of Lorensz, which, in later years, became the Highfield's residence, no other buildings existed to accommodate the School. But it was one man, and one man alone, who set out, with no other aids beside a push bicycle, to traverse the length and breadth of the Island and secure what he wanted from high and low, rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian alike, with relentless toil, patient untiring effort and boundless hope. During these early Pettah days, Highfield had with him a group of loyal men in whom he place his fullest confidence. C.P-Dias, Head Master of Wesley at the time, the great disciplinarian, whom Goldsmiths's famous lines could aptly describe; " A man -severe he was and stem, to view ", nevertheless a most human soul with generous goodwill, never failed to stop and have a word with his pupils as he wended his routine .Way between San Sebastian Hill and Galle Face.
The Dias-Mack-Honter- A.H. de Silva, combination proved tower of strength to Highfield, as though these men had not many academic qualifications or letters behind their names, yet the nobility of nature and deep sense of vocation helped them not only to gain for their pupils scholastic distinction, but gave to Highfield sufficient assurance that he could leave Dias at the helm with these staunch friends to help him, and get on with with his collecting campaign. I may as well recall from those early years which produce " men of grit and industry ", some who later played a prominent part in public life; Sir Mohammed Macan Markar, one of the large numbers of Muslims whose homes clustered around the school, who opened for Wesley with S.P.Foenander against Royal ; Redlich (later Canon) who obtained a second class in Maths at Cambridge, and R.F.Honter, M.A.(Cantab) , who later became Director of Education in Sierra Leone; H.J.V.I. Ekanayake who gifted Wesley our fifty two year old College song; Sir Baron Jayatilaka and Sir Gerard Wijeyakoon. I would like to commend to the younger , generations of Wesley. -Old Boys" the wonderful attachment these Old Boys had and continue to have for their Alma Mater. Karlshrue, open, airy was a paradise to the pupils of the Pettah institution. For a satisfactory playing field we had to wait.
But we started on the stretch of Campbell Park behind All Saints' Church, then migrated to the marshy patch alongside Baseline Road until we acquired, thanks to P.H.Nonis' (acting Principal) enthusiastic effort, the former Tamil Union Pavilion. Highfield's ability as a teacher bore ample fruit, for the next few years saw some brilliant performances in the academic sphere. S.K.P de Silva (now P de S Kularatne) finished his schooling at Wesley, where Highfield's coaching helped him to annex the University Scholarship. E.F.C. Ludowyk won the this Scholarship later. E.E.Mack did brilliantly in the Cambridge Senior coming first in the world,. He later passed into the Indian Civil Service in 1914 and is now a Judge of the High Court of Madras. W.V.D.Peiris who won an Agricultural Science Scholarship and Justin Labrooy, now Lecturer( later Professor of History) in Ceylon University were two of the best scholars. And Cricket During my 25 years as prefect of Games I must say I have seen some outstanding Cricket Captains at Wesley; A.E,Seneviratne, A.M.Fuard, A.J.Boteju, R.L.Kannangara, P.H.Nonis, A.H.M.Ismail, V.Vandendriesen, and later on H.L van Buuren, J.A.A.Perera and Edmund Dissanayake proved efficient in captaincy and all-round performance. I regret that I cannot refer to so many others who played the game and truly, within this limited space. Our contribution to the public life in this country does not consist merely of a small group of outstanding men in the field of politics. Wesley is proud of a host of others in every walk of life. Among such are those who became Principals of schools- D.B.Jayatilaka, S.V.O.Somanader, P. de S.Kularame, P.H.Nonis, E.R. de Silva, E.D. Tambimuttu, Rev.W.M.PJayatunga,C.P.Tamotheram, F-N.Hettiaratchy and Terence de Zylva; those who entered the judiciary or legal -service - H.J.V.Ekanayake, C.E.de Pinto, K.D. de Silva, W.R Abeyakoon, C.C. Jansz, RC-Loos and J.V.R.Ferdinands who served with distinction on the staff and was an officer in the C.C.B. During the riots of 1915 when some of the Sinhalese Buddhist leaders were imprisoned at Welikada, as "political offenders" Highfield wrote to the then Governor, to give these gentlemen a fair trial or release them forthwith. The letters had the desired effect. All of them were released within a few days.
On another occasion, in the same year, at a College Prize-Giving, he criticised strongly the Government policy and hoped that before the period's history came to be written, this "stain" as he called it, in the British rule would be rubbed out. This utterance affected the school adversely for it lost a neighbouring bit of Crown land, which was given to another school. However, Highfield received a warm invitation to participate in the first Independence day celebration, but unfortunately advancing years prevented him from coming over. Dalby, too, served for a fairly long period and made his own contribution in his inimitable way . Quiet, conscientious, generous in judgement even to a fault, he soon earned for himself the love and respect of all who came to know him. To his and A.H's enterprise we owe the Teacher's Guild of which FJ.Lemphers was made the First President. When World War II came along we had lzzett in charge. Which Old Boy does not remember with a pang the fact that we had to migrate to Carey College when school reopened after the Japanese Raid. Only forty two boys attended. But many months after Wesley migrated to Kittyakara and adjoining houses in Campbell Place, where we struggled to do our best. With Holden, a Missionary stationed in Burma, who came to our rescue and did excellent work under very adverse conditions.
Then Cartman arrived full of youth and vigour and we soon felt he was a man in the best tradition of Highfield. He lost no time ending this period of exile, and soon we were back again in our "dearly beloved home". Only those who knew intimately this great sportsman- the first President of he Public Schools" Cricket Association- could appreciate the contribution he made to Wesley, for though he succeeded in completing Highfield's plan. Of buildings with new extensions, what mattered more was the wonderful tone and spirit of fellowship he brought to bear on the boys and staff alike. As I look back a few problems arise in my mind. I have my misgivings about the growing attitude of scorn for good literature and study of the Classics today. Why do we have to shut ourselves out from the best in the world has to offer in science, literature, etc.. it is my fervent prayer for Wesley that she goes from strength to strength and - "From victory to victory Wesley to the fore."
Editors Note : This article which has been abridged was first published in the Ceylon Observer
GRANT HIM O LORD
Revised 20th December 2010
Enigmatic, Flamboyant, brilliant and larger than life are perfect descriptions of a teacher we admired and revered at Wesley in the 1950s and 60s. The students respected him enormously.
His ubiquitous presence was a feature at Wesley during my years at school. A man of intellectual dynamism and conviction, he was a towering presence on the teaching scene at Wesley from the 1950s and well into the 60's. The schools had to adapt to the changing expectations of a new generation of parents of post colonial Ceylon. The process was sometimes painful and the transition difficult. Soon with his strong personality he became a controversial figure. Some were uncomfortable with his forthrightness, his flair for publicity and his ambition. Personally I believe his intentions were honorable and the school benefitted enormously from his enthusiasm and ability.
I first met Mr.Lancelot Aelian Fernando when I joined the boarding in January 1950. "Laffa" was a bright eyed lad from Moratuwa with a wicked grin and a bucketful of enthusiasm. He was amply blessed by the Methodist Saints for high office. He was the Senior Hostel Master and a father figure to the hostellers. Laffa as he was known was kind and compassionate and knew us all by our nick names, mostly of his own creation. He maintained strict discipline but rarely caned us. As I recall we were a very happy bunch. LAFFA was fiercely loyal to the Hostel and Moscrop House and he was always there for the Interhouse matches to cheer the boys.
The enchantment of the cricket matches of my childhood still haunts me. At school Cricket was not only a game but a way of life. At Campbell Park during cricket matches, he knew how to crack the whip and generate support and enthusiasm. He was a cheer leader who gathered the troops to sing baila and other limericks to support the players. To watch the games we assembled in large numbers under the massive trees that surrounded Campbell Park. Singing and chanting waving the school flag was part of the fun. Zam Zam Zaky and the school song broke out spontaneously. There was a carnival atmosphere at the grounds. The beat of the drums helped to maintain the rhythm and the boys danced unashamedly. Mr.LA Fernando lead the singing. When our wickets fell we sang “What’s the matter minor matter”. Like our cricketers the students who were part of the scene will cherish those memories forever.
I recall he was a devout Christian and a lay preacher. He was one of the most elegant of orators with a charismatic stage presence. He made well timed surges in volume to illustrate a point and for good effect. As kids we loved to hear him deliver the Sermon at the hostel Chapel or at the Maradana Methodist Church. He had great mastery of the art of story telling. Be it the story of the Prodigal son or Feeding the 5000 he brought them to life by his superb narrations. I have always remembered his story of the famous painting of Albrecht Durer "The Praying Hands". His great craft of using words powerfully inspired us all establishing an immediate rapport with his audience. This remains a lasting memory for me. He took the whole hostel to the "pictures" to see "The Robe", "Sampson and Delilah" "Demitrius and the Gladiators" "Quo Vadis"and many others. I am sure many hostellers will remember this with much affection and nostalgia. Despite being away from our parents he made life in the hostel a magical journey.
At Assembly LA Fernando enjoyed singing the school song before cricket matches and Hymns from the famous Wesley College Hymnal (sold for Rs.4.50 at the school bookshop). Hymns are the life-blood of Protestant spirituality. What the faithful sing is far closer to their hearts than what they read in sacred texts or hear from preachers. I seem to associate LA Fernando with the Hymn "When I survey the wondrous Cross". Its lovely poignant lyrics and the lilting melody always takes me back to the Assembly hall with 500 students voices echoing and seemingly lifting the roof.
He immersed himself fully in everything he did, sports, academic or extracurricular activities - an extrovert. He had a commanding voice, and an authoritative physical presence. We knew it when he was around as he took over the affairs and directed the proceedings. LAF urged the students to achieve what they didn't think they could. He provided pastoral care to those in trouble, financial or otherwise. Towards the end of his school career he had an old hostellers get together to meet all those who had been with him right from the beginning. It was a massive gathering and a fun day for all.
As the years rolled on I remember how sad we were to see him leave, although briefly, for further studies in the USA. A few years after his return he married Nalini De Mel (JLF's daughter). He had a masterful public manner and kept the school in the spotlight. Then luck played its part. Being a strong political figure at school of considerable stature he rose to become the Vice Principal above many strong contenders. Wesley College at the time was a centrifugal institution, well suited to his personal dynamism. This appealed to the liberal-minded Methodist Synod. His immense stamina was always an asset. He had a healthy rapport with the parents who were at ease with him. He threw himself into it with his usual intensity and with great success.
Mr LA Fernando lived in the Bungalow opposite the Principal's residence. He had an open house for all boarders. I still remember his classical music appreciation classes at the Vice Principals bungalow when he played the 33 RPM vinyl micro groove records he had brought from the USA. When I hear Mozarts - Eine Kleine Nacht Music it still reminds me of those happy times.
His prestige then was at its height and what a wonderful life he lead; what a fantastic existence as seen through a schoolboy’s eyes. “we were totally in awe of him,” said one of my old school friends. Status, wealth, prestige, looks, lifestyle and a lovely family: LA Fernando had it all. He remained an ultimate star of his own making.
Meanwhile I left the boarding in 1958 and LA Fernando became our Chemistry teacher. LA Fernando was a genius as a teacher. He was a good conscientious teacher and prepared us well for the examinations. Teaching for him was an important mission to be undertaken with joyful dignity. He had the rare gift to teach to remember facts and I would call him a gifted guru born to teach. His didactic teaching manner suited students well. The most remarkable feature of his teaching was the attention he paid to those who were less able, always encouraging them to do better. L.A.Fernando taught us Organic Chemistry for A-levels to give us a superb grounding in the subject.
I last met him when he personally brought my University Entrance results for entry to Medical College. He was happy as I was. He took great personal pride in our success, a sign of a great teacher. This great trait seem to be lacking in education now. LA Fernando was a teaching force of nature. His energy was relentless. He would cajole, threaten, bully and sometimes explode in volcanic rages. He could be vain and uncompromising. He was outspoken and at times abrasive. But he also possessed humour and a massive personal charm when his genuine kindness and humanity also came through. LA Fernando's achievement as a supremely gifted teacher measured by the academic success of his students is perhaps the ultimate vindication of his style. The result was remarkable. He did more than educate – he inspired, entertained, motivated and supported students under his care.
You knew he was in a room with you, not many people have that kind of presence and charisma, but LAFernando did, and he transferred the confidence he had in himself to the students. He knew how to handle difficult students and how to get more out of them. That same inherent determination overcame any squeamishness about dealing with the "bad guys". It has to be said not many teachers managed to achieve that in their careers.
Yet his ambitions were hampered by events in his personal life. While LA Fernando's professional life was at its peak, his private life began to disintegrate. The turmoil took its toll. The idiosyncratic world of school politics did not take kindly to anyone who stepped out of line. The exact nature and the sequence of events that lead to his departure from School is lost in the fog of time. Although very much loved by the students controversy followed him and he left Wesley to join the US Educational Foundation (USEF) in 1968. Despite his "flawed" genius, with his exit Wesley lost a great Vice Principal and a fine teacher.
His mercurial personality was genuinely missed at Wesley. But the unhappiness in his personal life damaged his high standing at school and in society at large. As a result the inner peace seemed to elude him. He missed his true vocation of teaching students. Sadly he never fully recovered from the trauma of leaving Wesley. The world which was once at his feet became a lonely unforgiving place. The beginning of the prolonged decline of the school well into the new millennium coincided with his departure and many observers believe it is more than a coincident. The loss of a man of his ability, a shrewd fundraiser, from an institution poorly managed and in the middle of a financial crisis may have been a disaster for the school. They were sad times. There were no winners - only losers all round. To his critics he was egotistical, difficult and his ambition was too obvious but to his friends his hard work and complexities have been too little understood. In all his years at Wesley his concern for the students' welfare stood out. The personal qualities that propelled him in his early years are the same ones that bedevilled him in later life.
During the time I knew him his non-conformist views, attitudes and life stands out. By the way he lived his life he showed how to be fearless, how not to conform and how to dare to be different. Sadly, society then was not ready to accept a change from the straight and narrow. There is more than a little bit of him in all of us. The school, perhaps, failed to appreciate his efforts and positive contribution. However grudgingly, though, almost everyone recognised his ability. In the 21st Century these issues are viewed and dealt with more understanding.
After he left Wesley College his life went on a downward spiral. I was deeply saddened to hear Mr. L.A.Fernando died on the 20th of January 1985 at the relatively young age of 64 when he should have enjoyed his retirement with the blessing of his old boys who were eternally grateful to him. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for the encouragement he gave me to fulfil my dreams for the future. It fills my heart with sadness not to have seen him as the Principal of Wesley which perhaps was his dream. My inability to see him after I qualified as a doctor to recount the good times and pay my respects will remain with me a matter of great regret. Even now he seems indestructible. His photo brings him back to life and his voice seem to echo in the background. He was so much a part of Wesley during my time that even after the passage of many decades since his death it is difficult to believe he is no more. Despite the problems of his later years at Wesley he remains one of the great icons of my time.
He never achieved his ambition of becoming the Principal at Wesley College. But he was arguably the most influential and effective teacher and administrator of his era He was admired and feared in almost equal measure, and was a central figure at school in the mid 20th Century. Mr.L.A.Fernando brought to the school, the boarding , the classroom and his life as a Vice Principal a regal grandness of purpose and possibility. All of those who knew him were lifted by it, and there are many. We are greatly indebted to him. He had a tremendous talent for teaching and became one of the most brilliant and versatile teachers. His personality imprinted itself upon the whole face of education at Wesley during his years at the school and perhaps will remain so for the rest of time. Despite his demise the spark of what had been is not quite extinguished. We will miss him for many more years to come.
I do not seek to deify LA Fernando. Instead, this account portrays him for what he was: an ambitious, if flawed, supremely gifted teacher with an elegant turn of phrase and strong socialist convictions. We saw glimpses of his egalitarian outlook from time to time. I have traced his fortunes and misfortunes since his University days from those who were close to him. This brief biography has been posted in the hope that those of us who knew him can appreciate his contribution to the life of the school.
He graced the school and for those of us privileged to know him, he graced all of our lives. For intelligence, contribution, and versatility he now strikes me as among the truly greats at Wesley. His portrait should adorn the Hall of Fame in the company of WE Mack, Eric Gunasekera, CP Dias, HJVI Ekanayake and PT Cash.
Teacher, Philosopher, Preacher and Raconteur
He had confidence in my ability when I had doubts:
He was one of the finest all round teachers of my time.
GRANT HIM O LORD
Addendum from the 1959 School Magazine
We congratulate Mr. L. A. Fernando, MA., Dip. ED. (Birm) on his appointment as Vice-Principal. Mr. Fernando joined the staff of Wesley College in 1950, and was Hostel Master (1950-51), and Senior Hostel Master in the period l951-1954. As an Old boy of St. Thomas' College, he strengthens the link we already have with Mt. Lavinia, in Mr. F. J. Senaratne, The Sub-Warden of St. Thomas'.
Mr. Fernando was awarded a scholarship to the United States, to the Garett Biblical Institute and North Western University, where he followed a course of studies in the period, l954-l956. Mr. Fernando returned to Ceylon in 1957, and'was appointed Chaplain of the school, in which capacity he did useful service. We wish him well in the new task that he has now undertaken.
Standardized Grade Point Average (from 1953 - 1968) = A+
In the year 1954, Evan Hunter's "Black Board' Jungle was hot off the press. The pocket size paperback, was a true narration of his experience as a teacher in the tough neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Of course, I read this only after I moved up to the middle school, in 1960. Just about that time the film version was screened at the Majestic: Sidney Portier, Judy Gibson, and Lulu as lead actors in "TO SIR WITH LOVE". I used this exemplary account as my benchmark to produce this balanced report card. This is a vein attempt evaluate my teachers during the period 1953 to 1968. Also, I used this real life experience as a valuable guide, to successfully develop my own teaching style. This summary evaluation is a non-standardized version, mere raw marks, an honest perspective, and timeless.
I can vaguely remember my first year in school. I can still picture my class teacher very clearly. I certainly cannot recall any memorable experience. Except that on the last day of the school year, the whole class was given a treat - ice cream - popsicles. I think I enjoyed my 180 days in this class, I did not dread to go school, did not want a warm hand to walk me into the class, so I think she must have been a pretty kind and supportive teacher, an A+ would be most appropriate.
Both the LKG and UKG were co-ed. I am sure this was changed a few years later. Nursery continues run with no gender bias. I remember my 2nd year in school only a little more than the first. The only thing I remember is learning numbers (arithmetic). Possibly I was good at it or maybe I just enjoyed it, or I had some pretty good classmates. But the teacher was remarkable - Mrs. S. G. Perera served Wesley for over 25 years. All through the years I was at Wesley, when ever I walked past her class behind the Hostel, she would make it a point to stop me, inquire how I was getting along in my studies and give me some positive and encouraging advise. Whatever my own rating was, she was on my side, did not let me fall. I could not ask for anything more from such an outstanding teacher & friend. We did not hesitate to walk in to her home, whenever we were around the vicinity for chip-a-job or hanging around with my friends. We had an open invitation to tea or lunch. To this outstanding teacher, a belated thanks you. Final mark = A+ with a Distinction.
With the some positive memories of Grade One, I have no recollection of what I did in grade 2. But in these 3 years I do remember being marched to the music room. A piano at one corner, two bright red 2" wide concentric circles in the centre. Mrs. Joyce Lembruggen and Mrs. Deutrom were the teachers who tried to develop in us some rhythmic movements and an appreciation for music. The symbols, the foot diameter brass clappans, the triangles, or the drums could not make me have any love for this boring 35 minutes of aesthetic medicine. No blame on the teachers, I think it may have been perfect for many others who excelled as choristers in the later years. I am sure I did miss out on a valuable opportunity. Mrs. Dulcie de Mel was a teacher of music in the Nursery, anyday, I would give her an A+. I remember Mrs. de Mel as an outstanding teacher.
In grade Grade 3, I was made well aware of the ancient adage "do not spare the rod and spoilt the child". This was well patronized by Mr. E.L. Rodrigo and probably improved on it during his 25-year tenure. He would not think twice before caning the whole class. When his face turn red, and you could see the jugular vein pumping blood to the thick grained lines on the forehead; it will very easily dawn on us the true meaning of the college motto. We knew it was time for double blue stripes on the hamstrings. As a 3rd grader, I had not reached the level of rational thinking, as such I may have been too biased in my diagnostic evaluation of this teacher at that time. But it was Mr. Rodrigo who gave me the first taste of entrepreneurial learning when I volunteered to help at the College Bookshop. The memorable scout camps at Mirigama, his equal concern for the safety and well being of all campers was very impressive. Finally, I truly valued Mr. Rodrigo as a conciliator and a counsellor during my 9-10 years. For this Mr. Rodrigo cannot be marked less than an A+ for being a guide on the side and not for being a sage on the stage.
Mr. Wilfred Wickremasinghe was a popular and kind-hearted teacher who also served Wesley for over 25 years. Always dressed neatly in white, always with a friendly smile, almost always address students by their last name, probably it was an easy method to remember all of the brothers with one ID. Any student, who had to stay late or lost their bus money spending on ice cream, always got some sympathy from Mr. Wickremasinghe. He was in charge of the cub pack for many years. He did not like to use a cane but did not hesitate to pinch soft patches red, or use a sharp edged wooden 12"ruler on the palm. I really could not understand why such a good trained teachers would think kids should memorize even if they did not understand, and would learn better if they stood outside the class and not inside. But over the years he stood the test of time as an exceptional teacher, a great friend who and would offer a student a hot cup of tea on a rainy day. An A+ for Mr. Wickemasinghe for his personality..
Grade 5 was always special, as you feel biggest in the Junior School. Mr. Paul Perera had just joined Wesley that year and students promoted to grade 5 were curious to find out what his disciplinary measures were. Kids in a school did not want to be in a boot-camp or to be a punching bag for someone who did not know how to motivate students to be actively engaged in gross motor and fine motor activities. I was really glad I had Mr. Paul Perera was my grade 5 teacher, could not have asked for any better. It was not only for what I learnt, but more for how he treated us with concern, and each of the forty in the class being kindly prepared for the big leap to grade 6. An honours grade is my choice.
Mr. Felix Premawardane tried to teach us the basics of language. All I can remember was the assignment to memorize 40 verses. It is not the verses I remember but how we guessed the probability of not being called to recite. To some of us it was better to have taken the chance than not spending lot of our quality playing time with this exercise. We thought we escaped his mighty cane but alas to our dismay he did appear again in Form IV. Mr. Premawardane was an excellent photographer and was very busy on any special day lke the prize day, sports meet, or the Founder's day. He made sure good discipline was maintained in the middle school. He had a passion for good drama and to teach good literature. I remember reading 'Vijayabakollaya' from cover to cover. His best known drama - 'Kaluware Jaramare' was stage over 100 times. An A+ for his long standing friendship and advise.
Mr. de Mel was the Junior School Head Master, another exemplary teacher and administrator who served Wesley over 25years. Mr. de Mel was a good tennis player who gave any staff member a good challenge and helped the Junior cricketers to their best. He was the backbone of the Welfare Society. His personal knowledge and working relationship with all of the 900 students in the sixties, the parents and a large number of old boys made the transition into a non-fee levying private school a success. A Distinction with honours for his great teacher and administrator.
Mrs. Iris Blacker taught us English. Mrs. Blacker made sure the shirts were tucked in and the long hair, not out of control. All of the long years at Wesley she always travelled to school on a Rudge ladies bicycle, sometimes in a neatly pressed guide uniform. We were proud to have a Girl Guide Commissioner from Wesley. Mrs. Blacker would not expect anything less than an A+ from any of us, so I will return the same back to this great teacher.
Mrs. Sheila Wijeyakoon ably supported Mr. de Mel and Ms. Blacker to maintain the English stream in a popular state. Wesley had all classes in all three media, as such three parallel classes for each grade.
Of all the teachers during my Junior school days, Mr. Sivanayagam who was Head Master many years later, a Green Mack House supporter, and another quarter centurion. He is best remembered for all the motivation and encouragement he gave throughout those years when I could not even make the House team for the Inter House Meet. He was one person who kept the fire burning in me, and believed that with training I would be able to challenge the school's long held athletic records. He proved to be right. Nothing less than a Distinction for a great motivator.
Mr. Shanmugam was another teacher who was in the Junior school at that time. Never taught us, but a very amiable person who would take time to stop and talk or smile with any student, parent, or old boy.
Mrs. Lakshmi Amaratunge who joined the junior school later on, took responsibility of the Cub Pack and was one of the main actors in Kaluware Jaramare.
Another fine teacher who joined many years later was Mrs. Massilamany. Although she did not teach us, took time to talk to senior students during the Intervals. Her famous cliché "you are the captain of your soul and master of your fate".
An overall average of A+ to these teachers.
That ends my Junior school days. Overall it was a great period, with some good academic learning, and not so outstanding sports achievements. It was a time when Wesley had some outstanding Athletes, Badminton players, and Cricketers. Soccer and Boxing saw some of the finest. The school drama and choir at its best.
Scouting and Cubs were in large numbers. The stained glass windows were the proudly intact. The Small Park in extensive use by budding sportsmen. All was well and we looked forward to the next adventure at the Highfield Block.
Today is the 28th death anniversary of Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara known as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka. A great statesman and patriot he was also one of the galaxy of leaders who led the national movement in the first half of this century to obatain independence for our country. Christopher William Wijekone Kannangara was born on October 13, 1886 at Loolbadde in Pas Yodun Korale. He was a child of 12 years when his father who was a clerk lost his employment. This was a big blow to his family with six children who had to struggle hard to make both ends meet. But Kannangara the brilliant student wrested the much coveted Foundation Scholarship and entered Richmond College, Galle. Richmond at that time was meant for the rich and Kannangara, the poor boy from the village, was often looked down upon. The experiences in his younger days might have induced Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara to fight so gallantly for free education in later years for the benefit of the poor students. Although poor in wealth young Kannangara excelled in studies in class and sports in the field. He was often the first in class and he passed the Cambridge Senior in 1903 placed in the first division. He obtained highest marks for mathematics among the students of the whole of British Commonwealth and brought honour not only to Richmond but to the whole of Sri Lanka. After leaving school he served as a teacher at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa and then at Wesley College, Colombo.
While teaching at Colombo he attended the Law College and passed out as a lawyer in 1910. He commenced practice in Galle and soon earned a reputation as a clever lawyer. Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara entered the national arena as an active member of the Temperance Movement initiated by patriots like F.R. Senanayake, Sir Baron Jayatilleke, D.S. Senanayake, Arthur V. Dias and Piyadasa Sirisena. In 1930s he followed Dr. P. de S. Kularatna, Dr. G.P. Malalasakera, E.W. Adikaram and others who introduced `banian and cloth' as the national dress. Since then throughout his career, Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara never appeared in Western suit. Dr. Kannangara was a founder member of the Ceylon National Congress the main plank of which was to obtain independence for Sri Lanka. In 1924 Dr. Kannangara was elected to the Legislative Council to represent the Galle District. In 1931 Dr. Kannangara was made the president of the Ceylon National Congress. The same year under the Donoughmore Constitution, he was elected to the State Council as the member for Galle. In 1936 he was again elected to the State Council but this time as the member for Matugama. He was the minister of education in the State Council from 1931 to 1947. Higher education at that time was the exclusive preserve of the rich. It was in English and fees were charged for it. University education was beyond the reach of even those with an average income. The poor had to be satisfied at most with secondary education. It was in this situation that on the initiative taken by A. Ratnayaka, the member for Dumbara in the State Council, that a special committee headed by Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara on education recommended free education.
When Dr. Kannangara presented the Free Education Bill in the State Council, he had to face severe opposition from the vested interests. He anticipated such opposition and was ready to meet them. Some of the critics of free education suggested instead scholarships to poor selected by a competitive examination. This would have been a mere patchwork to maintain the status quo. The affluent with money, influence and better English could have easily out-rivalled the poor in various fields. Dr. Kannangara and other sponsors of free education were too clever to be trapped it that manner. Some others queried why free education should be extended to the rich. Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara who had to undergo many difficulties and suffer harassment as a poor student explained that he did not want to have class distinctions in education and create second class students. There were also some who lamented that there would be no youths to pluck the yield in their estates. That was the very type of inequality of opportunity the free education scheme aimed to eliminate. Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara and his supporters carried out a vigorous campaign all over the country for free education. They held meetings and answered all the arguments levelled against the scheme and disabused the minds of critics. They explained the benefits of free education to the masses and generated a strong public opinion in its favour.
Dr. Kannangara then won over the members of that august assembly and saw the Free Education Bill passed in the State Council. The Free Education Scheme also called ``The Pearl of Great Price'', brought about a social revolution in Sri Lanka. It opened wide the doors of higher education to the poor. Education was made free from Kindergarten to the University. Along with free education Central schools were opened all over the country with a greater concentration on rural areas. Scholarships from the 5th standard up to the university providing free board and lodging besides free education were endowed on poor talented children selected by a competitive examination. Thus the way was prepared for those poor but clever children who earlier had only a bleak future to reap the benefits of higher education. The parents of those poor offspring who could not afford higher education for their clever children shed tears of joy when the free education scheme was implemented.
Dr. Frank Jayasinghe is the senior most International School Administrator in Sri Lanka. He was the Principal/Director of the American School in Kodaikanal in India from 1972-1984. On his return he started Wycherley International School in 1985. In 1992 in response to the request of the Directors of St. Nicholas’ International School he took charge of the School and developed it into a 400 strong International School. He started World Education Pvt. Ltd. In January 1996 which is now a full-fledged International School. Dr. Jayasinghe is the coordinator of the Association of Heads of International Schools in Sri Lanka, Chairman of the National Committee of the United World Colleges, Founder member of the International Baccalaureate in Geneva and serves on several International Institutions dedicated to education such as “World Education’ in Upsala and International Council for Curriculum and Instruction, New York
He was a Hostel Master and a teacher at Wesley for many years before moving to St.Thomas' Prep school as Headmaster. He taught us Maths in form 1. I believe he was at Wesley from 1955- 62 Being an excellent teacher he stood for no nonsense and saw to it that we all learnt and understood. D.B.Welikala, Edmund Dissanayake and Frank Jayasinghe were inseparable friends. Wesley lost an excellent teacher when he left. We were sorry to see him go. He has had a meteoric rise since his departure to become one of the foremost educationists in the country. A well deserved position for a clever , astute manager and an excellent teacher.
Principal of principles turns 80 by Demi Hewamanna
Dr Frank Jayasinghe at 80 years of age - June 2013
To everyone who knew him, he was one extraordinary person and still is. He has been an educationist for so long and yet he never gets bored of learning something new every day. Today he marks milestone in his life and that is celebrating 80 young years of knowledge, adventure, stories and so much more.
This gentleman is none other than internationally renowned educationist Dr. Frank Jayasinghe who has over a 50 year span of teaching principles that are known to all the schools in the country and also abroad. I am happy to have been a student in his very own school – College of World Education – which he began in 1996. And I am also happy to sit down today and get to know the Principal of Principles as he celebrates his 80th birthday with everyone who studied, worked and learned from him.
“This all began after my Advance Levels, I taught for a short time at Wesley College and that gave me the love for teaching (not that I applied for other jobs and failing to teaching, it was straight away to teaching). I was also the Hostel Warden at the college. I did the degree applied for training and went for training while teaching at Wesley and did the BA for Arts Subject. One thing I noticed was when they had a difficulty in something they couldn’t go to anyone as for example in science and went to econ teacher and asked them with the teacher in turn telling them they don’t know anything on that subject. So I did a science degree…I wanted to be equipped basically with what is needed for teacher.
Then I was invited to go as head master of St Thomas Guruthalawa as it had problems. There were famous principals who started it like Dr. Hayman and Canon Foster who died there. It was an isolated place and there were riots amongst the boys with them setting fire to mattresses. So the Anglican Church wanted to me to go there and do something and I was like “no, I am quite happy here” and they were like “that’s the problem, go to a place that is not”. When I went there, it was so true, and after a couple of weeks thing were a little under control and I had to be very strict with them. And still today, when I meet the past students, who look older than me, come and tell me, “Sir, do you remember the kane (slap) you gave me in school” “Sir, Sir dakkama ape passath ridenewa (meeting you, we can still feel the stings in our bottom)”, but they are doing well and they say it is because of the caning.
After three years, the school was doing well. But at the same time, the St. Thomas Mount Lavinia was also going through trouble. So once again the board had approached him and asked him to join Mount and bring discipline to that school. And when he went, Rev Sivaratnam (the warden) said that Frank, I.’m a priest, I don’t know how to run a school, so you run the school. First day there was hooting in the classes. Sometimes when I went home, my wife had to rub my shoulders as teachers were not caning and I had to do all that.
Then there was a request from Kodaikanal International School in India. They were all American principals and they wanted to change it to an International school but they didn’t want an American neither an Indian. So they got a list from various places. I had previously taught at international school in New York and they got my name from there. They asked me if I would like to come there (I didn’t know about the school, and I wanted to know about it, so they paid my way twice for me to check out the school). From 50 applicants they selected me as Director of Development and Principal of the school in 1973 to develop and implement the project design which would set the tone and direction of the new school Robert H Carmen who is a Kodai Alumnus said this about Dr. Frank, “Planning and then implementing the Project Design for the new school and leading it through its first decades as a multinational, plural-cultural, autonomous, Christian school is Frank’s legacy to Kodaikanal School.
From the Richmond College Web
Arthur Triggs was born in Cornwall in England on 25th July, 1864. After commencing work as a missionary at the age of 21, he arrived in Ceylon on 10th February, 1886. After he was engaged as a teacher at Wesley College, before moving to Richmond in 1888. He was able to offer five years of dedicated service to the College. He constructed a building consisting of two classroom in 1889, and till 1927, the kindergarten was housed in these rooms. He enlarged the lower dormitory of the hostel and added a sick room to it. He influenced the publishing of the College magazine regularly and always tried to keep the standard of education high. It could truly be said that Triggs' period was the golden era of College publications. We were turning out more magazines and papers of various sections of the College than any other school at that time. Most of these magazines were edited by Rev. Triggs himself. Rev. Triggs bid farewell to the school in 1893, but carried on with his missionary work in Kandy, Negombo and Matara. He was the Chairman of the Galle Methodist Mission from 1900 to 1902.
From May 06, 1902 - Surrey Mirror - Reigate, Surrey, England
The Rev. Arthur Triggs. who for seventeen years has been missionary in Ceylon, has accepted the ministerial duties attached to the Reigate Wesleyan Chapel in place the Rev. E. C. Harris. He takes up his duties in September.
GRANT HIM O LORD
He taught in 3 continents By Vijay MENON - Staff Reporter
From The Toronto Star Sunday, June 29, 1997
VeIla Chanthirasekaram had patience and a knowledge that served him well as a teacher for four decades. Before teaching in Canada, he taught mathematics and science to Students from different cultural backgrounds on two continents.
Mr. Chanthirasekeram, died May 25 at the age of 66 at Scarborough General Hospital, after a two year battle with cancer. He had been a teacher with the North York Board of Education for the past eight years, teaching mathematics and physics at a number of schools. He was a loving family man who enjoyed reading and traveling,' said his wife Sivam yesterday from her Scarborough apartment.
'He was soft-spoken, patient arid very understanding," she said, adding her husband was a skilled handyman and an avid gardener. The two met in high school in l946 in Battica1oa, in eastern Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They were married in 1959 in Jaffna, her parents' birthplace on the northern tip of Sri Lanka. The youngest of 12 children, Mr. Chanthirasekaram was born in 1931 in Salem, south India.
When he was a young boy, he moved to live with his older brother, the late V. Thirunavukkarasu, in Batticaloa. In 1972. Mr. Chanthirasekeram and Sivam moved to Zambia with their two young children
They taught at the same high school for the next nine years He was the assistant head of the mathematics department and she taught biology Since they specialized in different subjects they were always able to find work at the same schools, Sivam recalls. In 1981, the two worked as teacher, in Transkei, South Africa, where he was the head of the Mathematics department. and she was the head of the biology department.
They moved to Canada in 1987, where they settled in North York before moving to Scarborough in March. "He was an excellent teacher," said Sivam, adding, "Every student he ever taught has praised him and his teaching ability. She said her husband was a "big fan of the library" where he often borrowed books on the subjects of psychology and neurology. He was also able to combine progressive liberal beliefs with traditional values, she said. Mr. Chanthirasekaram began his Career In Sri Lanka, where he received his diploma in education He taught at Wesley College In Colombo before leaving for Zambia.
He leaves his wife, son Seyone, daughter Sashi and daughter-in-law Mitra.
Mr.Chanthirasekeram was cremated on May 29 and his ashes were returned to the sea 14 days after hls passing, as Hindu tradition dictates.
Mr.Chanthirasekera was an exceptional teacher. I first came across VC as a 29 year old teacher when he took our Physics in the Sixth Form. He was a superb teacher and no one disturbed the class as he made it so interesting. He was quiet, soft spoken but efficient and set about the task of getting us through the difficult University Entrance Examination. VC had an excellent knowledge of the subject and we had confidence in him. I recall the many physics practicals he worked out for us and the scores of difficult sums from the past question papers. He went through them like a knife through butter and we remained in respectful silence.
I remember saying goodbye to him when leaving school. I have often wondered how life treated him thereafter. It was Shanti McLelland who very kindly sent me the information which I have included above. I would have loved to see him again but it was too late. His photo reminds me of those happy but difficult and uncertain days in the sixth form at Wesley.
At Wesley he was known for his kindness, quick mind and pleasant manner. These were great attributes for a teacher. Mr VC was an intensely private man, he was formal and charming in person, beautifully groomed and a consummate professional. He was a great teacher and a wonderful person. Mr Chanthirasekeram was calm, knowledgeable, unassuming and courteous. He was buoyed by great optimism and was always generous with his time. Sadly such dedication to duty is rarely seen nowadays.
walk through the park of our humanity
with breath that parts no air -
steps that bend no grass -
disturbing nothing as they pass.
MAY HE FIND ETERNAL PEACE
By Watson Wijewickrema
(From the Wesley College Archives)
For Wesleyites, past and present, Miss Iris is synonymous with efficiency, drive, fitness, but above all severity. This,
would be the impression left in the minds of those who knew her only as a teacher those who knew her more closely remember her for her charm, graceful unbending loyalty and unstinted sense of duty. Miss Blacker was stern, but that masked a gentle spirit, extraordinary goodness and a desire to be of service.
She was a stickler for punctuality and a hard worker. My association with Miss Blacker started when I was as a toddler in the Lower Kindergarten. After a few months of fun and games in the Nursery Class I received a promotion to the Kindergarten, and as a mere child I thought it was my misfortune to have had Miss Blacker as my teacher, though in retrospect I consider it a privilege to have been her pupil.
Those were the days when Wesley College classes in the afternoons, at Carey since the College buildings In Base Line Road were used as a military hospital. Miss Blacker demanded a lot from us to be perfect in the three "R’s" in to maintaining a high standard. She ensured that we did this by giving a few "cuts" on our calves with the cane whenever we faltered. My progress in the three "R’s" can be attributed to her efforts
I had failed to prepare, but more often through thorough preparation - to avoid these regular doses handed down by her. She did not tolerate unpunctuality under any circumstance; nor did she consider it to be humanly possible for anybody to slack in his work. She made us work hard and would write a short note to the parent or guardian if she found us falling short of the standards she had set us. She would insist on us keeping our text books and exercise cooks neat and tidy, and made it her business to see to our personal appearance as well. She would line us up outside the classroom before we start work for the day, and would examine our dress, hair, teeth and nails. Even the polishing of shoes was not overlooked. This training, though not appreciated then by grubby little boys who would like to splash about in the mud, has undoubtedly helped us in later life. Many years later, when I joined the staff I noticed Miss Blacker continuing her practice of inspecting her charges each morning, even through they were boys in the fifth standard. Miss Blacker may have been a strict teacher, but she never failed to visit a sick pupil.
It is not fair by Miss Blacker if I were only to emphasise her stern qualities. She was a dedicated teacher who believed that imparting of knowledge was only half the task. Moulding of character was a supreme aim. Hence her attention to detail-particularly concerning a pupil's manners and behaviour. Many are the times when she had pulled up a boy for having his hands in his pockets while speaking to somebody, or for speaking while chewing something. Her outstanding quality was her desire to set the example herself.
Versatility was Miss Blacker's forte, and Wesley was all the more benefited by it. I remember the time when the mother tongue (Sinhala or Tamil) - "vernacular" as they called it then - became a compulsory subject in all classes. Wesley College was one of the many schools in Colombo which could not find Sinhala teachers at short notice, and had to manage with whoever was available. Miss Blacker was entrusted the task of teaching us Sinhala in the Upper Kindergarten I must say that she rose to the occasion quite creditably considering the fact that Sinhala was not a language quite familiar to her. I can now imagine the hard work she must have put in to grasp the subject sufficiently to teach us. That was perseverance of a highest order which is sadly lacking today. I guess I am one of the few who could make the unique claim to having a non-Sinhalese as my first Sinhala teacher.
My impressions of Miss Blacker were not much different from the opinion shared by very many of her pupils, until l joined the college staff in 1961. She proved to be a person bubbling with enthusiasm, who never failed to enliven her colleagues with her charm and sparkling humour. She was quite a popular figure in the Staff Room and he had the distinction of being the first member of the fair sex to be elected President f the Teachers' Guild at Wesley College.
Her aesthetic sense and organising ability were well demonstrated when she, almost vernight, changed a drab looking staff room cluttered with untidy tables and overflowing cupboards into a colourful and tidy sitting cum-rest room with a very homely a place here. Gay curtains adorned the windows and bright linoleum covered the floor. The meagre funds of the Teachers' Guild did not deter her from her purpose: instead, she started a fund-raising drive and realised the monies necessary to carry out the work ie planned.
At staff meetings and discussions she concentrated on the school, its welfare and it s students. Miss Blacker struck me as one who was conscientious and well-meaning. It was then that I realised that her strict discipline was motivated by her ideal of making a gentleman of every pupil of hers. The pupil important to her, and she considered it her duty to get the best out of even her backward pupil. This explained her attitude in class which we as pupils thought tyrannical. Above all Wesley was closest to her heart. She devoted her life to it, its welfare was her major concern. On the day of her retirement, she closed her speech to the staff with the words: "I leave now that I am confident that it is in good hands." She made this in reference to the rather uncertain future of the school a couple of years after Wesley opted to be a fee levying private school, as a result of the government take over of schools. Her devotion to Wesley makes her the one member of the fair sex eligible to be called a "Wesleyite”.
Miss Blacker did not permit lethargy to overcome her in her retirement. She took to full time work for the Girl Guides When the Student Christian Movement of Ceylon had no full time General Secretary she stepped into the breach and Performed her onerous duties creditably, until a new General Secretary was found. It required a person very much young at heart to this organisation dominated by undergraduates. Her good humour combined with her ability to adopt herself to any situation helped her in this task.
Service, mainly Christian social work among youth, has always been part and Miss Blacker's life. She continues to serve . Many a Wesleyite would have met the small made lady with a big heart either on the highway or in transport in the midst of her rounds. My prayer is that she be blessed abundantly to carry on her good work.
Reading the article on Mr Raju Hensman written by Keith De Kretser, brought back memories to me of another great teacher who literally put the fright of Moses into her pupils, even before they reached her class. I am referring to Miss Iris Blacker. The spectre of Iris Blacker was much a part of every students life from Grade two (standard two), you were made aware of the fact by every student and teacher, that in four years time you would be in her class. The years rolled on and the relief at seeing the end of standard four, and welcoming the Christmas holidays, wasn’t as exciting as it should have been. The spectre had finally become a reality and at the end of January you knew that three terms with Iris Blacker awaited you. Iris Blacker was a stickler for just about everything, but specifically punctuality and personal neatness. The routine first thing for the day was a parade outside the classroom where an inspection akin to an army boot camp would take place. Shoes had to be polished, finger nails had to be clean and uniforms had to be spotless. This process took place for a second time after the lunch break. If memory serves me right, it was the only class where the first bell didn’t have to remind you to wash up and be presentable.
To those who don’t remember her, she was the spitting image of the character “Rosa Kleb” in the James Bond classic From Russia With Love. Miss Blacker’s mode of transport was her faithful bicycle that she rode to school and back daily, it would have been a very brave boy that dared play a prank on her, or her bicycle. Besides, expecting the best from her students, and the lack of performance resulting in two or three cuts with the cane, Miss Blacker was no different to any other teacher, quite willing to listen to any problems one would have and excuse you for misdemeanours, provided the reasons were valid. My memorable experience was the day I forgot to take my Bible to school. Religious knowledge was two periods in the afternoon, so the problem didn’t seem insurmountable as I was sure I would be able to borrow one before then. The Gods must have had it in for me, as every person I approached must have had the same subject at the same time as me. I decided to sweat it out and substitute an Oxford dictionary for the Bible. My plan was a good one and would work, provided Miss Blacker didn’t pinpoint me to stand up and read a passage. As luck would have it I survived this ordeal and have related this story many times.
As the year drew to a close there was a sense of sadness at leaving this great lady’s class, this was overshadowed by the pride for surviving the year and “earning ones spurs” as it were. The perceived ogre had become some one that you loved and respected. As we filed out for the last time I am sure I noticed a quiver in her voice and a tear in her eye. I was indeed privileged to have been taught by Iris Blacker.
She taught at Wesley 1929-1963
She was of a generation in which few women fulfilled their potential. Miss Blacker who was a little firebrand was brave and stubborn enough to escape from the strictures of 'polite' society and take on a profession in the late 1920's. She made up for it by sheer grit and determination to become an influential and legendary teacher at Wesley.
Miss Blacker started teaching at Wesley during the tail end of the Great Highfield era. She became a teaching legend at the school and had a long and distinguished career as a Primary School Teacher. She was an inspiration and part of the "fabric of the institution". It must be said the little lady was an independent and determined character. She pedalled her ancient bicycle to school. There was a woven basket fixed to its front. Her basket and the bike would have fetched a small fortune in an antique fair.
Miss Blacker taught me English and I recall with much nostalgia learning to write English script with a G-nib in a Longman's Copy Book. Mistakes were pointed out with a shot on the knuckles with a ruler. I still remember those classes which helped to improve my handwriting. She got us in the habit of reading books from the class library full of the famous English Classics. Miss Blacker introduced us to the poems of Tennyson, Wordsworth and Longfellow and made us memorise and recite them. We wrote essays and learnt to spell and construct sentences abiding to the strict rules of grammar. She taught us the basics well. Those who persevered, however, found that she was kindly and an immensely knowledgeable person.
Miss Blacker was a very efficient organiser of events like the Primary school sports meet and drama. She was a great advocate of physical education euphemistically called PT which she encouraged us to take part in the small park. This she supervised with great vigour during school hours.
She did not spare the feelings of those who fell short of the ideal. In manner she could be rather fierce. Wesley College had a dress code and every primary school student will remember Miss Blacker's efforts to maintain the code. Our shirts had to be tucked neatly inside. She made sure our hair was combed and we were cleanly dressed. And most importantly the hair had to be conservatively styled. She inspected our hair closely for lice. Our nails needed to be trimmed short. These rigorous checks were done effectively and regularly. She insisted on us being polite to our teachers, we addressed them as Mr. or Mrs. and further exercised our good manners by saying Yes Sir and No Sir. Addressing them in any other way was considered disrespectful, a quality Miss Blacker said had no place in the school. She more than held her own in what was then an overwhelmingly masculine environment.
She never married and her strong Christian faith remained with her throughout life. Her religious upbringing and her faith underpinned her approach to life and her profession. She was the old school type and may have lost her temper with students but behind that demeanour of admonition, there was always concern for their welfare. Mind you, she was tough but kind and looked after those who fell ill at school with much care and love. Students' cuts and bruises were cared for with her First Aid Kit. She was always ready to help those in trouble, with her indomitable character and medical skills.
She made a deep and enduring impact on many people outside her profession as a teacher. She was smitten with the Girl Guides Association with all its protocols and procedures and all it stood for. Miss Blacker was a Girl Guide Leader in the Ceylon Girl Guide Association and thus provided a tremendous service to the community. In 1959, the British Girl Guide Trainer’s Diploma was conferred on Miss Iris Blacker. She was responsible for taking Girl Guiding into the rural areas in Sri Lanka. A Commissioner was appointed to work in this field – Ms. Mallika Perera who together with Miss. Iris Blacker and Ray Blaze did wonders to recruit and spread the message. Miss Blacker became the Chief Guide Commissioner in Sri Lanka for her services to the Organisation. To this day The Girl Guide Association of Sri Lanka respects and remembers Miss Blacker with much affection.
Miss Blacker was a stickler for discipline and was very traditional. We were expected to do things properly and to the best of our ability. She was an educationist who believed that school could teach children the value of honesty, integrity and respect. And to those who were in any doubt she made it clear that she hated apathy and had no time for laziness. At times she was a terror and demanded exceptionally high standards of her students, who struggled to keep up. She was feared by students for her no-holds-barred interrogations. Her pin-sharp eyes missed nothing. She could fly into incandescent rages in class if students were annoying her. She would shout and throw books and dusters across the room. She was a bit vocal and eccentric at times but never vindictive. Miss Blacker never set out to harm students but to train them to be good and useful citizens. Her students didn’t become angels but became aware of their responsibilies and obligations. Many of her students went on to lead successful lives becoming useful citizens of an ever changing world.
After I moved to the Senior School she always gave me a nod when I passed her on the corridor. At times she would stop and enquire about my progress through school. This little lady always encouraged us to do well and achieve more in life. The good moral and social values she instilled in us must remain with us still. I left Wesley in April 1962 and to this day regret not saying goodbye to her. Sadly, I never saw her again.
It must be said Wesley meant a great deal to her and served the school for 34 years. She scrupulously respected and valued the school's history and traditions. Diligent and hard-working, Miss Blacker will be fondly remembered for her dedication to Wesley and her autocratic style. Miss Blacker earned the lasting respect of her peers and pupils. She insisted on us being well disciplined honest and hard working which no doubt helped us in the years ahead. She was a kind and generous character with a lively sense of humour, which we only realised when we had reached the Senior School.
Miss Iris Blacker has rightfully earned her place in the history of the school by her dedication. When I walk through the Great Hall , I see the photos of many great teachers and Principals. Miss Iris Blacker most certainly deserves a place among them, and I hope the present Principal will make it happen. It is important that visitors , students and old boys, see the history of Wesley College more fully represented by all the different people who have impacted our school and made a difference.Generations of children benefited from her dedication to education.
If the measure of a woman is what she gives to others, then little Miss Iris Blacker was indeed a giant. When history comes to be written of Wesley College, she will surely receive her full, and overdue, credit. The only memorial that would do her justice, is the application of her values in the field of good manners and discipline at Wesley College. Let us give her that.
GRANT HER O LORD
From the OBUA Newsletter December 2003
Miss Iris Blacker
I was a hyperactive seven year old when I first caught sight of the petite frame in a calf length grey skirt standing outside the primary classrooms below the Hostel. The stare she gave me through her horn-rimmed glasses mesmerized me. I was caught wanting to skylark on but froze. It was that imposing!!! It was my first meeting with Miss Iris Blacker and I knew Miss Discipline had finally caught up with me. That year my class teacher was the beautiful Miss Nalini de Mel, later to become Mrs. "Laffa" Fernando.
The difference between Miss Blacker and Miss Nalini was like chalk and cheese. Nalini was maternally generous, we were all her children. She was personified kindness. At the end of the Christmas holidays, my dad, a second generation Wesleyite warned me to behave or “Miss Blacker will make you do”. Came January and we filed in a line of two into the classroom and together welcomed her in unison. She turned on her heels and wrote Army, Navy and Airforce on the top of the black board. Somehow with Miss Blacker everything was competitive. The hard work rewarded. Everything was a game. We were soldiers, sailors and airmen, bringing honour or disgrace to our teams Nature study, Art and Handwork - We painted bottles and filled them with saw dust, then stuck a bean seed in the moist saw dust and watched the roots grow. In the class room were the paintings exhibited as she thought fit and everyone tried hard to have his work of art displayed.
The class had its own library and reading was encouraged. We were obliged to have our own little dictionaries with words we picked out of books that were not texts. We were allowed to read classics and not comics. Miss Blacker’s boys from all three streams were excellent in English. Most reading and poetry classes on warm days were held under the tamarind tree giving us the picnic effect. After the first term examinations were over the boys eeding help were massed around her in the front of the class while the would be doctors lawyers and engineers were allowed to fend for themselves. She was like any mother giving more attention to those who needed it most.
Miss Blacker did not like the word ‘forgot’ and we were never allowed to forget anything while we were her wards. She once organised a nature study tour and we took train from Maradana to Mrs. Joyce Leembruggen’s home in Chilaw and there we saw live crabs near a lagoon and watched fishermen drag their nets in. On the last day of school after the reports had been handed out the class got a treat. An ‘icy choc’ each and then we lined up to play our last cricket match of that year at the small park. I was one of the fortunate few to have Miss Blacker twice as my class teacher when as a ten year old I remember she spoke to us of what the new ball was all about. She spoke to us about the swinging ball.
Harold Juriansz was Wesley’s Cricket captain. She encouraged us to go out to Campbell Park and cheer the school team something we did and always noticed her watching the matches too. Years later, I remember compliments paid to me by senior journalists and my mind raced back to the days when Miss Iris Blacker insisted on us collecting our own ‘hard words’. To date, I am sure that any one of my former classmates would have made excellent journalists themselves thanks to the little lady in the calf length skirts who taught me everything we know, only like my Mum did.
GRANT HER O LORD
He refused any photographs hence this exact likeness by our own cartoonist Mervyn B.Wickramasinghe
The sun beams fell on the dust laden windows of the physics laboratory. The sun came peering through the open windows and lit up the place while more sunbeams danced around Mr. Setukavalar's coat sleeve. It happened everyday with monotonous regularity, and probably the sun regarded Mr. Setukavalar as some kind of apparatus in the lab. We can-lot blame the sun for such a notion; perhaps the sun was correct, for without Mr. Setukavalar we could not perform our ''practicals''
Then one morning, the sun came in, just as bright and cheerful, hut immediately he sensed that there was something amiss. He hastily surveyed his familiar surroundings and soon he realised that there was no coat sleeve and there was no Mr. Setukavalar. Heart broken and disappointed the sun went away and he decided never to conic hack, Now the physics lab is dark and gloomy because Mr. Setukavalar is not there and the sun will not come in.
We regarded Mr. Setukavalar more as a genius (perhaps we had a limited knowledge of genii) than as a scholar. The occasions were numerous when we would listen dumbfounded with gaping mouths while he disproved the very laws he proved. In fact his prowess at disproving was so great that he once disproved our very existence I He also possessed a subtle sense of humour and many of us will remember his joke regarding some scientists attempting to Prepare an "all dissolving" substance. Every year we heard the same joke narrated in the same words arid in the same style. Yet we longed for such moments when lie would repeat his jokes because we knew that he was unprepared to work and in our appreciation of his stale jokes we now and then made feeble attempts to laugh.
Mr. Setukavalar has a fancy for beige tussore suits and it was not long before we associated beige tussore suits with him. and he with beige tussore suits. We often wondered whether he evolved this particular liking from tedious calculations from which he was able to deduce that beige tussore suits would give maximum comfort, and so, as any old story goes, it happened that when we saw a motile tussore suit we knew it contained Mr. Setukavalar of course minus his head I)
He was a kind of personality one honoured and respected. He never failed to create interest in any subject. With him class room work was no boredom. We loved hi in and enjoyed his work and teaching. I only hope he enjoyed it too I
Addendum from the 1959 School Magazine
Another stalwart to leave us was the evergreen Mr. Arnold Setukavalar. This in fact was the second surprise he sprang on us in the last year. The first when, contrary to the opinion of all in the know at Wesley, he got married! Mr. Setukavalar was a very clever teacher, with a mind as sharp as a needle, and a head stored with all that one would wish to know in this earthly existence. For if anybody wanted to know anything, off they went, confidently, to "Mr. Sethu". As Senior Physics Master of the School he maintained a very high standard, and all those Wesleyites in the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering in the University of Ceylon. find nothing 'fundamentally new' that the University can teach them. Mr. Setukavalar was to us a part of Wesley and now that he has gone we value much more, the great
work he did here. We wish that he will tire of Jaffna soon and come back to Wesley, where he rightly belongs.
Personal communications with Mr. CJT Thamotheram
Mr JAT Sethukavalar cut a traditional figure with his old-fashioned beige, tussore suits and slicked-back hair. His professional life was destined to be inextricably linked with the world of science and he enhanced our understanding of the universe. He taught us physics and was a fine teacher of this difficult subject. I recall the hissing noise he made with his sentences which was to the great amusement of the whole class. One of his jokes was about a group of chemists who arranged a scientific meeting to find a substance that would dissolve everything - the best solvent in the world. One scientist asked "where are you going to keep it?". Then he hissed incessantly as he laughed.
Mr Sethukavalar had the respect of us all for his immense knowledge on science and he inspired a generation of students to take up physics. His philosophy of teaching was the encouragement of students to think rationally and scientifically, rather than through strict discipline. His departure from Wesley was a great loss. He left to join Jaffna Central College where he taught until retirement. In all those years he never lost his sense of wonder over the physical phenomena that make up this planet. He remained a gentle soul liked by all, much the same as he was at Wesley. He was an ever popular teacher.
He passed away in the late 1980's and the funeral was held in Kopay which Mr. Thamotheram attended to pay the last respects to his friend and colleague. Mr. Thamotheram commented that his gaunt figure had not changed with the passage of time. His wife was a teacher at Chundikuli Girl's School and they had a son. We remember him as a dedicated teacher and a person who knew everything that was worth knowing.
GRANT HIM O LORD
A teacher at Wesley 1946-1979
My voyage was a very pleasant one and I enjoyed myself by taking part in various games,
The chief purser and the stall did their best to provide activities for recreation which occupied the greater part of the day, Sports meetings and tournaments for children and adults, Music, Dancing, Interesting Talks, Film Shows, and the Red-Sea Race when we were in the Red Sea,-all took place in grand style. Although Horses were not imported from Haile Sellassie, nevertheless they made creditable time on our ten yards race Course. The six jockeys taking part in each heat crouched low in the saddle urging on their steeds encouraged by the starting of enthusiastic punters. The winning jockey blushing, with pleasure was awarded the ship's Cup and a bottle of champagne. The less sporting among the passengers amused themselves by playing Chess, Cards, Dominos or lazed on deck chairs with a book.
The 250 children did not have a complete holiday. Organized lessons were held each morning on E' deck and games occupied most of the afternoons. Among other amenities provided for the children was a special swimming pool. I was impressed by the way in which the children's School was run. Instead of the parents taking them to the class or to the Swimming pool they themselves attended without any compulsion. Volunteers among passengers conducted classes and supervised play. A library provided books on a wide range of topics, Passengers could make free-use of the Library.
One of the most delightful aspects of the voyage was the opportunity it gave me to converse with people from other lands. I met passengers travelling to Australia, Egypt, Italy, Greece, and Arabia. The absence of formality made ii possible to speak to them all without formal introduction. How fascinating it was to exchange ideas with people of such diverse nationalities I There were one or two who travelled from Yugoslavia, who could not speak a word of English, and it was a problem 'or both passengers and staff.
Meal times were eagerly looked forward to, as a good choice of dishes was available, and in addition, Coffee or ice cream was served each morning. Undoubtedly our most exciting days were those which we spent in ports of call. I eagerly looked forward to my first sight of Europe at Naples. As soon as we walked down the gangway, we went to a shopping centre. How confusing it was to find ourselves iii a foreign land where we could not understand a word. Only in the larger stores where English is spoken could we be certain of making purchases at reasonable prices. Outside, near the port. the street sellers pressed their wares upon us, asking us for three times as much as the articles were worth, and refusing to be put off' by a simple answer.
During the six hours' stay at Naples t went to visit the nearby ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii. These ruins of Roman civilization have been preserved owing to the fossilization effect of the molten lava which poured from Mount Vesuvius, destroying all1 the unfortunate inhabitants who were not able to' escape in time. So we may see not only the houses, temples, Theatres and public baths, hut also common articles of household use--cooking vessels, knives, jewels and even the mummified bodies of men and animals.
Fascinating as it was, this glimpse of Italy was, only. a side light of the voyage, for, as you know, the! Principal reasons for my trip was to pursue a course of studies in England, what can I say about the: charm of London? As soon as I arrived at Tilbury Docks, and passed through the British Customs, as representative from the British Council welcomed me warmly and gave me all instructions, and prevented me with some maps, and booklets about London. On arrival at St. Pancras Station another official took me to the Ceylon Students' Centre where I enjoyed a Rice and Curry meal-my first after almost 3 weeks. Later I was taken to the Methodist International House, where I spent the rest of the day before going on to Cheltenham.
We lived in approved lodgings close to the College where we had the chance of living with an English family and at the same time staying with the College Community. Our classes lasted from 9a.m. to 7 pm... with a break for lunch and tea. Both theory and practical classes were well organized, and qualified tutors assisted in our Studies. The special feature of our practical work was the large amount of time: Devoted to the gymnasium. As we all know, 'Gym" is. Not well taught in Ceylon, but in England even from, the primary classes, Gym exercises play a prominent part.
Principal games taught include-Soccer, Rugger Tennis, Hockey, Cricket and Rowing in addition to' Athletics. Specialized P. E. Teachers instructed us in, the methods of teaching these games. We used to' spend our practical periods, of about two hours each, day, on the playing fields. During the second week we were taken to schools. In Bristol where we fist observed classes and then conducted classes ourselves. Most schools have a well Equipped Gymnasium. The class I took for soccer behaved well and impressed me by their willingness:
To co-operate. As a general rule the English School boy enjoys his game more than the Ceylon boy and strives to gain prominence in School teams, 1 find that all day-schools provide a mid-day meal so that children do not have to spend their time during the lunch interval without the supervision of the teachers.
During the evenings all the members of the College. Meet informally to take part in Debates, Film Shows and Dancing, and sometimes we entertained Girls students from our Sister College.-St. Mary's. Week-ends were free and I made use of them, visiting some of our missionary friends, When the tour months' Course was ended, I went up to London. During my stay in London, I visited The British museum, The National Gallery the Tate Gallery. The Zoo, Trafalgar Square, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and The Houses of Parliament. What an exciting life one can lead in London
Students of History can visit places of interest, learning by seeing, so that they will not forget Trafalgar Square is an interesting place where stands a statue of Nelson commemorating his victory against the Spanish. People of all nations throng the square to feed the pigeons, photograph their friends or exchange ideas on a thousand topics. Another interesting place is the Planetarium, where within an hour; you can see represented the movements of Stars and Planets during one whole year. The British museum is another place of 'student pilgrimage" where valuable information can be had on any topic ill History. Students of art can visit the National Gallery where all types of art can he appreciated. Italian and Dutch paintings especially are kept in large numbers at this gallery.
the Tate Gallery is another place, which should he visited by those interested in Art. Sonic of the finest examples of modern art may he admired here. There are ample opportunities provided for all types of students and interests. There are also theatres, Cinemas, night Clubs where people of different nationalities mix freely and enjoy themselves. A large number of people From the West Indies and Africa work in different establishments and study in various Colleges and Universities, They seem to be very industrious and a friendly type of people.
Most people in London, particularly the Scots are very friendly and helpful. Many times 1 had to ask people the way and they helped me willingly. On the first day in London, I was able to go to the Bank of Ceylon with the help of diagrams drawn up by the smiling blue-coated London Bobby -a refreshing contrast to the Ceylon policeman.
Some friends invited me to spend a week-end with them. Once I had the privilege of attending: The Laymen's Conference, organized by the Methodist Church in London. This Conference was held at Eastbourne, one of the most popular holiday resorts in England. We stayed at the Methodist Guest House and took part in various activities& Dr. Markus who lived in S. India for about 20 years gave a series of talks of Christianity in South India.
A week later 1 was invited by the Methodist Church at Wimbledon where Education Sunday was celebrated. I was asked to take charge of the Ceylon stalls where Ceylon products were displayed. I had to answer questions put forward by the: Congregation.
As you know, I was staying at the Methodist International Home in London where all types' of people from all over the world live. I had the privilege of discussing with them the various problems of their countries. Activities in this house were well arranged to suit the conveniences of the students and their friends. Miss Hilda Porter is in Charge of this house and she is a good guide and friend. She presented me with a book, Letters to Christian Churches which I made use of during my voyage back to Ceylon.
During my Short stay in England I formed many good impressions about England and the English people, which I shall never forget.
GRANT HIM O LORD
Transcribed from the 1959 School Magazine
Rachel LEEMBRUGGEN taught at Wesley from January 1929 to April 1936 and again from May 1949 to April 1959, when she retired
She belonged to that fine and last-dying old school of English Trained Teachers. She understood the real meaning of Education and what was expected of a teacher. Such teachers had the knack of turning out rounded men and women. They were conscientious and efficient and did not lose their idealism in the drudgery of day-to-day teaching. Rachel Leembruggen was one such teacher.
The Middle School, in which she worked, is often thought of as a kind of no-man's land, lying as it does between the Age of Spontaneity in the Primary School on the one hand, and the Age of Assertiveness in the Senior School on the other. But it is in this intermediate period that much of what is laid down can be wrecked by the easygoing teacher; or strengthened by the one who is conscious of his or her responsibility, it is here that wide interests can be fostered and social behaviour. discrimination and leadership can he inculcated.
There are today scores of Old Boys of Wesley who will recall with gratitude the firm but kindly influence that Mrs. Leembruggen exerted over her classes, the good study habits that she encouraged, the little gifts that she used to give away at Christmas to the boys of her class, and the example that she herself set in good speech, neatness and the appreciation of beautiful things. She was not just a perceptive listener but a wise adviser in whom the students had trust. I was surprised at just how accessible she was compared to many. She was loved and respected for her knowledge, teaching, pastoral care, honesty and empathy during her long career at Wesley.
As a member of the staff. Mrs. Leembruggen played her part with dignity. She had a high sense of duty. Her Absentee and Forecast books came in regularly week after week. She was loyal to the Principal. She took part in school plays and joined in outings and she made an efficient Treasurer of the Teachers' Guild.
Wesley owes her a great debt and we wish her a very happy retirement.
Addendum from the 1959 school Magazine
Another loss to Wesley was the departure of Mrs. Rachel Leembruggen, who served the school conscientiously, and nobly for nineteen years. As a teacher in the Middle School she excelled in the teaching of English Literature, Latin, and Scripture. Her classes were always lively and interesting for she combined anecdotes and irony of varying shades to instill learning into our not so keen heads! As a House-Mistress of Passmore she gave much of her time to House Drama, the sports meet or whatever contest the "light blues" were engaged in. We wish her happiness in her life in Australia
GRANT HER O LORD
Mr. Fonseka taught Sinhala and Scripture in the Middle School. He was kind and compassionate teacher who never lost his cool. With his grey hairs and protruding jaw (Homba) he had a fatherly appearance and gave us sound advice about our lives. I vividly recall his account of the suffering of St.Francis of Assisi. As he narrated we saw tears in his eyes. Mr. Fonseka was a fine dedicated teacher of the old school. After retirement he worked in the Far East for a few years. On his return he was seen driving a posh white VW Beetle. We were more familiar with his Black Morris Minor which had seen better days. I was deeply saddened to see his obituary in the late 1960's.
GRANT HIM O LORD
Reverend Cash was at Wesley from 1906 to 1920 during which period he was also the Superintendent of the Hostel and Head of the Science Department. He acted as Principal on two occasions. Mr. Cash is remembered by his old pupils not only as a scholar and a teacher with many gifts, but also as a man of deep devotion and attractiveness of character. He was the Principal at Jaffna Central College from 1922-26 and 1928-32. The lyrics of their College Songs was Composed by Rev. PT.Cash MA, B.Sc. and the melody by Mrs. PT.Cash, ARCM, LRCM for which they are affectionately remembered. A former Vice-Principal of Wesley, the Rev. Percy T. Cash Passed away in 1958.
The Marriage of the Vice Principal Rev PT Cash - August 28th 1909
This interesting event took place five days after the closing of term on Tuesday, Aug. 23rd. The bride-elect, Miss J. Edith Tyas, daughter of the Rev. V. Tyas of Herne Bay, England landed from the P. & O. "China" on Saturday, August 20th:
The wedding took place at 11 a.m. in our Wesleyan Church at Maradana. The little Church had been tastefully decorated with greenery by our Maradana friends and was pleasantly filled with those who came to the service. The Rev. W. H. Rigby, Chairman of the District, assisted by the Principal of Wesley College conducted the service. The organ was presided over by Mr. John Ratnayake and the well rendered anthem and three hymns added greatly to the brightness of the service. The bride was given away by the Rev. R. C. Oliver, of Matara, and was attended by Miss Eslick, also of Matara, as bridesmaid; whilst the bridegroom was supported by Mr A. J. Bamford, of the Observatory, as best man.
About 70 friends must have been present both in the church and subsequently at the reception in Karlsruhe. Rev. and Mrs. Cash departed for their honeymoon by the 2-15 train, breaking the journey to Nuwara Eliya by a night in Kandy. The College is looking forward to according a hearty welcome early next term.
Vacation Memories of Rev PT Cash
ONE of the great privileges which a long vacation affords is the privilege of change of scene. It is with new zest that the work of the next term is undertaken after a time spent 'in fresh woods and pastures new.' Ceylon affords plenty of contrast although no tropical land can pretend to compare with a temperate country such as England in variety of scene.
I was able during this last long vacation to spend most of the time amongst the beautiful hills, of the Central Province and the Province of Uva. Scenes that I had contemplated many times before seemed to be the more interesting because of that very air of familiarity with which they struck me on seeing them again. Our fortnight at Kandy was of course very pleasant. The hill capital has one of the most beautiful climates in Ceylon. A few short. excursions from Kandy proved very interesting. One morning's cycle ride to two ancient temples remains amongst the most striking memories of our stay there. We set out in the cool of early morning and pedaled briskly through Peradeniya and on by the Colombo road to Embilimegama. There we
Commenced to test the quality of a Gansabhawa road and concluded that no members of the Gansabhawa were ardent cyclists. The road was quite a good minor road, so my companion told me .. I would place the emphasis on the word 'minor.' Our first destination was Gadaladeniya a temple placed on a' great slab of· gneiss. I daresay that there are many Buddhist temples in Ceylon of greater historical importance than Gadaladeniya, but nevertheless there was something very reposeful and suggestive about this worn and venerable shrine situated in so lovely a mountain retreat. The Dagoba which we inspected first was roofed and the roof possessed the typical Kandyan curl. Small shrines were placed at each of the cardinal points around the Dagoba. Each contained a sedent figure of Gautama. Only one seems to be used at present, the other three were dismal and spider haunted whilst the images were crumbling and lichen-stained.
The main entrance to the Vihara is the most interesting f part of Gadaladeniya from an architectural point of view. Each side is supported by triple pillars, the capitals of which arc almost Assyrian in appearance. These pillars are said to be essentially Kandyan in their structure and were very interesting objects. That weird monster the Gajasingha guarded the entrance upon either side. .
The shrine was dark and cool and its atmosphere laden with the heavy fragrance of Plumeria flowers. The priest informed us' that he had been living at the temple for forty years. He showed us the huge rice-bowl used for the benefit of pilgrims who crowd to this usually solitary and peaceful spot at Vesak time. We wandered around the temple ,yard and noticed the tom-tom beater's hall, another roofed Dagoba and a roofed dome above the Dewale, the two latter both Kandyan features. A pool stagnating in a hollow of the gneiss was crowded with mosquito larvae; there were thousands of them living the happiest and most active life within the limits of a small sheet of water. The sun was getting high in the sky and we remounted our bicycles and pursued the minor road. Riding was not a very continuous l)pastime for the next mile or two.
A bridge was being built and our bicycles had to be carried for a number of yards over the boulders and heaps of debris. :Further on we found ourselves plunging into great heaps of sand which occupied the whole of the road. These were but small difficulties, however, and very soon the sight of Lankatileke temple standing in its magnificent and commanding position upon the summit of a thickly wooded hill cheered us. we left our bicycles in a convenient shed by the road and toiled up many steps to the summit-shrine. '. The entrance to the Wihara at Lankatilleke was dazzling in the garish brightness of new stucco whilst close by the bricks of the temple sides were crumbling and weather worn. We were glad to sit down on the basement of the digge before inspecting the temple. The climb and the increasing heat of the sun had been trying. Lankatileke is disappointing after Gadaladeniya. The former is of brick and the latter of stone and the modern redecoration of the entrance at Lankatileka detracts from its beauty. There is a triple roof to the Wihara which gives it a pagoda like appearance. The internal details were of course much the same as those of the shrine at Gadaladeniya, We partook of our lunch in the Ambalam in the temple yard and afterwards wandered about in search of spiders and plants and noticed the pools in the gneissic hollows swarming with fresh water crabs. Lankatileke is not very ancient, but parts of Gadaladeniya date back to the 14th century. The road back to Peradeniya can be best' described as a , bone shaker' for the country rock seems to crop up in innumerable knobs over each one of which the bicycle executes a little jump. We were back again in Kandy before midday.
After spending sometime in Kandy we spent one night at Haputale on the way to Diyatalawa. Haputale, situated as it is on a lofty ridge of the Uva Mountains, is a lovely spot. Southward a magnificent panorama is unfolded reaching to the distant ocean at Hambantotte and the country over which one gazes is as romantic as any in the Island. It is a great solitary forest clad region bestrewn with ruined tanks and full or big game. There are very few villages and the tanks are the only sign of its former prosperity and fertility. This wonderful scene enjoyed from the cool Pisgah heights of Uva can be contemplated without weariness and with increasing sense of repose for a long period of time. To the North the landscape is little less inspiring The patnas undulate away in graceful curves towards the mighty flanks of the mountain walls of Uva· Hakgala: rears its magnificent head to the West and Namunukula grandly limits the lands. Cape to the East. A shining mist that caused silvery specks to dance before one’s eyes limited our Southward view but there was nothing to render indistinct the features of the Northward landscape. The detail of Haputale proved to be interesting and we felt that our day there had been well spent. We remained within the mountain vastnesses of Uva for the rest of our holiday and spent a good deal of the time at Welimada. Welimada with its peaceful remoteness from all railways and busy centers, its encircling hills and strange and fantastic cloud effects, abides as a central memory of the holiday. It is naturally a difficult place to reach unless you are one of the great ones of the earth and possess a motorcar. The complexities of modern civilisation require that the traveler shall possess a certain amount of luggage and it is the question of luggage that I complicates traveling when far away from railways and rickshaws.
Possibly bullock cart travelling is the oldest artificial means of locomotion in the world, it is at least the slowest. This latter fact is now deeply impressed upon my mind. Bullock carts date-I suppose-from a time when people knew nothing of the rush of modern life. This method of locomotion is however capable of being quite exciting at times as we discovered when our small bandy almost went over a precipice on the Badulla road.
It was at Pattipola that we ended our wanderings in Uva and from there we descended in two stages to the steamy atmosphere of Colombo. The mountain forests at Pattipola and the eerie quiet of patana valleys beneath them were very impressive. The forests have so ancient and primeval an appearance and the 'patanas seem so destitute' of all animal life 'and of all sign of human habitation. There the wanderer from the north sees some of his old friends amongst the flowers the marsh buttercup, St. John's wort and other well-known blossoms. With some regret we bade goodbye to the cool mountain air and fresh upland breezes and settled down once more to the regular tasks of daily life in the Low Country.
Signed P. T. Cash.
Farewell to Rev. and Mrs. P. T. CASH. Sept 1920
At 3.30 pm on Wednesday, the 8th, of September, the College assembled to bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Cash. The Principal opened the proceedings with a few words.' He said it was not possible to arrange for it last Term, and since the College re-opened on the day previous it was not possible to make elaborate arrangements. All felt a sense of indebtedness to them for their strenuous work during his absence. The work done for the Boarding establishment since 1910 has been invaluable. The College will complete the farewell, and give Mr. and Mrs. Cash a good send-off when they leave on furlough a year hence. In the meantime he would offer them the best wishes of all, The Headmaster, in a few well-chosen words, said that Mr. and Mrs. Cash had endeared themselves to all during the absence of the Principal and Mrs. Highfield. Mrs. Cash was looked upon as a mother. The elder sister is again called upon to come to the rescue of the younger. The present was an informal farewell, but later on their appreciation would be shown in a tangible form. They were indeed grateful to them for all the work they did and the kindness they manifested. Mr. Cash said he thought he would be permitted to slip out quietly without any formal leave-taking. He felt it necessary to go to the help of the younger sister, although he was not compelled to do so. He had delightful times at Wesley, and realised the loyal co-operation of the Staff and the Prefects. He was not going far, and expected to be in Colombo periodically on business. He congratulated the College on the splendid results at the Cadet Camp in Sports and in winning the Shooting Shield. He offered them' Good-Bye', After the Doxology, Mr. Cash pronounced the Benediction.
Remembering Rev. P. T. CASH by S. V. O. Somanader
The news of the recent death in his early eighties in England, of the Revd. Percy T. Cash was received with much regret by his old pupils, colleagues and other friends who loved and regarded him as the result of a long, inspiring and intimate association in Ceylon. He arrived in Ceylon in 1906 to join the staff of Wesley College as Vice Principal during the time when the late Revd. H. Highfield was the principal. He also acted as Principal more than once during Mr. Highfield's absence in England .on furlough, and later officiated also as acting principal of Richmond College, Galle when the principal, the Revd. W. J. T. Small (now working in Peradeniya) went on furlough. Subsequently, he worked as Principal of Central College, Jaffna, and retired after about 35 years of devoted service in Ceylon, to serve in various parts of Britain. At the time of his death, he was in charge of the church at Knighton, Radnorshire, Wales.
He married Miss Edith Tyas, daughter of a Methodist minister then serving in the Isle of Wight (South of England). Mrs. Cash, who was a worthy helpmate, is a Music graduate, and taught many pupils in Colombo, Galle and Jaffna, besides training the Wesley and Jaffna Central choirs. And, in addition to educational work and the work of the church, she did much to improve the standard of music in Ceylon, being a very capable teacher of singing and pianoforte. To her will go the deep sympathies or her Ceylonese friends for her sad loss.
I well remember that, when Mr. Cash was Wesley's Vice-principal some four decades ago, he not only taught us-as a pioneer educationist in Science and Botany and Zoology (in which he held a degree), but, being very versatile, gave us lessons in Geography, English Literature and Logic in the upper forms. And those of us who sat at the feet of this gifted missionary, both in the classroom and in his well-equipped study, gained much pleasure and profit by the interest he created in his work, which was always well prepared despite a very busy life-for his wife and he were in charge of the Boarding House as well. besides performing other duties.
During Mr. Cash's period of service in Ceylon, he once officiated as. the acting Chairman of the North Ceylon District of the Methodist Church, and, prior to it, he was also a lecturer in Zoology at the Ceylon Medical College. He was a pioneer in Scouting too, for he was the first Scoutmaster of the Wesley Troop formed somewhere about 1916, and his enthusiasm roped me and another young master (Mr. C.M. Fonseka) in as his first assistant -scoutmasters. In addition to these activities, he wrote occasionally to periodicals like the 'Ceylon Causerie"-_. and quite lately, from Britain, to the "Ceylon Fortnightly Review", on subjects relating to travel and natural history------ the animals of his "Household Zoo" series, comprising no( only mammals and birds, but other creatures like spiders, centipedes, scorpions, tarantulas, snakes and cicadas.
These were not all, however. For he often discussed in his parlour, religion, philosophy and kindred subjects with some of his distinguished pupils, not excluding Mr.(now Sir) Oliver Goonetilleke, our Governor-General, (and President of the Wesley O.B.U.), who was then one of our young and enthusiastic masters. No wonder that, some years after, during one of Mr. Cash's furloughs in England, we heard he had graduated in Philosophy as well, ·securing First Class Honours. Such a keen student was he that when he was past middle age; and though he was pre-eminently a scientist, he had great literary talents, for I know he often lectured publicly on William Wordsworth, Francis Thompson, Lord Tennyson, William Watson and other poets. From the pulpit, he preached edifying sermons, always drawing interesting analogies from Biology (his pet subject), after quoting, with ease, passages from Literature as only a well-read man could. On Science themes too, he spoke; I can recall an occasion when he spoke on "Fossils", among other subjects.
In all his talks and writings, he revealed a subtle humour, all his own. And though, as the result of a serious operation, he often seemed to be nervous and sensitive, (and even "suspicious", as a few thought), he was thoroughly sincere and good at heart, and evinced an abiding interest in his pupils, doing much to develop the character of the youths under his charge and training them to service based on an appreciation of lofty ideals. We, who had been his students, owe a lot to him. ,
About 8 years ago, after an absence of about 10 years in the U.K., Mr. & Mrs. Cash re-visited Ceylon, and the receptions given to them by so many of his past students and other friends in various parts of the Island testified to their popularity; and at the meetings held at different places, eloquent and deserving tributes were paid to their character, work and talents. And yet I wonder how many of Mr. Cash's friends and admirers knew that he wrote verses too. Though he did not write much poetry, his efforts in this direction, which he did primarily for his own enjoyment when the Muse inspired him, were of no mean order. He once told me that Ceylon was never more beautiful than it was at early dawn, and, to lend point to his remark, he wrote a poem on "Dawn in Ceylon". He loved sunrise and sunset with their fantastic clouds and gorgeous tints, just as he loved the flowers, the animals. The water-sheets, the elephant-hunted jungle and other natural phenomenon
I remember once that, during my early days at Wesley (about the time of the great World War I), Mr. Cash had to go down to Batticaloa, my native town, to attend one of the annual Methodist Synods held there that year Those were the days when there was no railway service to the East Coast, and even the movements of the two boats, which plied alternately round the Island, were few and far between, not to say uncertain. Motor cars too were in short supply, and so the traveller had to take train from Maradana to Bandarawela (for the railway had not been extended to Badulla at that time), and then take advantage of the only means of motor communication the Collette's bus service, which did the 120 odd miles along "the highway to Batticaloa"in the silence and darkness of the night. It was all wearisome travel-this journey from Colombo to Batticaloa, as it took two nights and one day. And most of the journey by 'bus. was through thick jungle infested with wild animals, and flanked by tall forest trees which threw the ghostly shadows on the lonesome road.
It was, therefore, not uncommon for a traveller, when thundering past Bibile and Mahaoya in Bintenne Pattu, or Thumpalancholai in the dark stillness of the night, or even in the pale moonlight, to come across elephants, bears, leopards, buffalo, jackals, forest-owls and other wild denizens of the night on the rather fear-promoting route. It was only when the passenger was within a few miles of Batticaloa that he caught a glimpse of early dawn ----the first streak of light appearing in between the paddy-fields, or through the coconut-fringed villages bordering the lagoon. And then all nightly fears were dispelled! So deep was the impression that this phenomenon had created in Mr. Cash's mind that, soon after his return to Colombo after Synod, he produced the following poem which he, or rather his wife, called "BINTENNE FOREST", and in which his cheery optimism was clearly evident:
Hard by the highway to Batticaloa. Where jungle is twining,
The jackals are whining,
And night gathers quickly as onward we go.
The day's toilsome hist'ry,
Is vanished in myst'ry,
'Tis night on the highway to Batticaloa. Where moonbeams are falling,
The night-birds are calling,
And ghostly the shadows the forest trees throw.
But now o'er yon mountain,
A light-streaming fountain
With dawn leads the highway to Batticaloa. And darkness confounding,
Glad Phoebus comes bounding,
And hearts that were fearful with confidence glow."
I think these verses should find a place in any anthology of poems on Ceylon.
What is as much remarkable is the fact that Mrs. Cash, who constantly inspired her husband in the development of his gifts, and, who was herself a talented musician, set the poem to music, which, though not widely advertised at that time owing to their modesty, had been subsequently sung by us at several local or college variety entertainments-only to be forgotten after they had left the Island for good.
When the Cashes visited Batticaloa in the course of their Ceylon tour in 1950, he wished to see the jungle with me, and I took him out one evening towards Kottukulam. There, among other things, I showed him what was to him a wonderful sight which thrilled him, and which he remarked was well worth going a long way to see. On an open spot where our car had halted, two or three bustard-quail hens-in whom the role of the sexes in respect of their colouration and breeding habits is reversed-were fighting furiously for the possession of a cock, which was feeding non-chalantly close by. (This fact becomes interesting when we remember that the polyandrous quail-hen, as soon as the mate has been secured by victory in desperate battle, and the eggs have been laid, closes her contract with her 'husband', to whom she consigns the duty of incubating the eggs and rearing the chicks, while she goes out again in search of fresh conquests).
That very night, when my wife and I entertained our distinguished visitors to dinner with a few other prominent local guests at "College House', and when I happened to remind Mrs. Cash about that excellent piece of musical composition on "Bintenne Forest" which we all sang at Wesley, she drew out, from her wallet, a couple of sheets containing this poem set to music, and presented it to me. The notes and words were all written in her own hand, and that added to my delight. Incidentally, she also gave me two or three copies of another piece of musical composition, entitled "Lift up your voices", composed by her. It was a "two-part anthem for women's voices". She wished me to keep them all as a souvenir of our happy days at Wesley, and of their visit to our Batticaloa home. I was very pleased to receive them, and they would ever remain among my treasured possessions.
After his return to Britain, I heard from Mr. Cash from time to time every year, and even the Christmas Card he sent me last December was the first one I received for the season. Though in some of his recent letters he gave me a hint that he was "not in good form", and that he had "a certain weariness that hindered" his work, and that his "voice was not equal to the tax" on his powers, neither my wife, nor my children (whom he always called his "grandchildren") thought that his end was so nigh.
We have lost a great friend and missionary, and though he has passed into the "Great Beyond", his spirit still lives, and we shall ever cherish his memory which is at once a blessing and an inspiration.
GRANT HIM O LORD
My FIRST impressions of Mr. de Lanerolle are vivid. I was only a little boy at the time, but Mr. de Lanerolle was known to all of us, for it was to him that we went, sulkily, when our teachers had given us up, as 'hopeless~, and who waited to see us sometimes return, with tears in our eyes! For it was Mr. de Lanerolle who maintained the scales of Justice, at Wesley College. All wrong doers were certainly punished by him, though not always in the conventional way; for some tirnes the mere twitching of his great, big eye-brows and a devastating frown, or a deft pinch of one's tummy was all that was needed! These were the impressions I had of Mr. de Lanerolle in the Junior School-a severe man, completely aloof and dignified, and a man to be feared.
We then met him in the Middle School, and came to understand him a little more, and there was the hint that after all he was human too!-in spite of the great, big eyebrows, and efficient air! He was kind, and praised us, as a teacher, when we did good work, and then we began to realise that he could be a friend as well . . And so (though yet in doubt), we found ourselves in the Upper School. It was in the Upper School that we really began to know Mr. de Lanerolle, for here he treats his pupils with a great deal of respect, young though one is. We now began to understand him, and he us, and very subtly, all that was latent and shy in us was drawn out, and we began to grow into men, under his guidance. This 1 think is one of the assets of a teacher-to be able to bring out the best in his students.
I remember clearly the time when some of us went to him, requesting him to help us produce a play for the Christian Union. It is when he was involved in such a venture that we really began to know the versatile nature of Mr. de Lanerolle. The play we jointly selected was, "Amor Christi", and it was great fun to see Mr. de Lanerolle in the role of a character in the play, telling us how exactly we should speak the words, or 'behave' on the stage, for when training a group for a play Mr. de Lanerolle was in his element; for Drama was one of his rich and varied interests. The make up in a play was not really complete unless Mr. de Lanerolle gave his deft finishing touches; for he loved to dabble with paint, and create a new character from an old and familiar face!
An actor, himself, Mr. de Lanerolle was an experience to watch. I remember the time he sported a sharp black beard and Jewish robes to take a leading role in another Christian Union play, "Judas of Kerioth". His acting was clever and as long as the play lasted one rarely remembered the man, but the character that he was, on the stage. In this play I remember also some of the 'spirituals' he sang, in his rich, deep bass voice Were you there, when they crucified the Lord ?" rang in our ears long after the play itself was partially forgotten.
In the Geography class we met the same Mr. de Lanerolle, but in a different atmosphere. Efficiency and thoroughness were ingrained in him and all those who were in his geography, Art or English Literature classes, would remember how exacting he was sometimes, for he always maintained a high standard-and this was only second nature to him. Seniors though we were, we always had with us the indispensable 'General-Work-Book', one of his creations-pieces of twine (for map work!), coloured pencils, good soft erasers, and all the paraphernalia needed for work. For if Mr. de Lanerolle disliked a thing, it was carelessness or indifference to work. With him one had to work, or (it dawned on one!) one had to become an 'Old Boy'. And so, one decided to work, whether it was Geography, English Literature or Art, that brought you to him.
In the hostel, especially on Thursdays, We met Mr. de Lanerolle again, this time as foster-father, for he was the Superintendent of the Hostel. We had only to go to him if we had a problem, or if we just wanted to discuss hostel matters; and there he was with a partly smoked cigar in his hand, and full of understanding and willingness to help. He was indeed a source of strength to us, for whatever our antics he forgave us. For many were sent up to him by the over-worked hostel staff who considered us incorrigible In the last phase of school life I began to know Mr. de Lanerolle as a friend. With the responsibilities and privileges of Prefect ship given me I met him more often, and found him a man of maturity, insight, poise and dignity; and above all efficiency. And many a prefect tried hard to maintain a high standard so that he would not betray the trust placed in him.
As Vice-Principal of the School Mr. de Lanerolle was a great strength and we could always expect fairness and truthfulness from him. Not only was he an accomplished educationist, but a man who believed firmly in the right. I had the privilege of being his colleague on the staff, at Wesley. A dogged fighter and a sincere man like him one does not often meet. We all fuss him greatly at Wesley, but hope that he will be with us once again.
In the last phase of school life I began to know Mr. de Lanerolle as a friend. With the responsibilities and privileges of Prefect ship given me I met him more often, and found him a man of maturity, insight, poise and dignity; and above all efficiency. And many a prefect tried hard to maintain a high standard so that he would not betray the trust placed in him.
As Vice-Principal of the SchooI Mr. de Lanerolle was a great strength and we could always expect fairness and truthfulness from him. Not only was he an accomplished educationist, but a man who believed firmly in the right. I had the privilege of being his colleague on the staff, at Wesley. A dogged fighter and a sincere man like him one does not often meet. We all fuss him greatly at Wesley, but hope that he will be with us once again.
K.M.de Lanerolle left us to become the Principal of Kingswood College
From the 1959 school magazine
Mr. K. M. de Lanerolle, who served the school ably and efficiently for 23 years as a teacher, and for 13 years as Vice-Principal, left us to become Principal of Kingswood College, Kandy. Mr. de Lanerolle was one of the most talented teachers on our staff, and it will be difficult to fill his place adequately. Mr. de Lanerolle was popular and gained the respect and admiration of all his students, for with him as Vice-Principal one was sure of justice blended with Christian forgiveness, and mercy, on every occasion. it is remarkable that he knew all his students so well-their home environment, families and 'special problems'. Mr. de Lanerolle took a great interest in Drama, Travel, serious music, photography, speech and elocution and above all in trying to bring out all that was latent and. noble in his students.
In fact Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle's name is synonymous with drama in Wesley College. As a teacher of English Literature and Geography he instilled in us a love of the subject, acting little sequences from Shakespeare or taking us on an imaginative 'tour' in the classroom, of the country he was dealing with in his geography lesson. As Master-in-charge of the College Library he was responsible for its good discipline and correct use, for in most schools and colleges very few libraries are really used. One feature in particular which the middle, lower and upper school misses is "the Friday's General Assembly", which Mr. de Lanerolle addressed. He was an able and interesting speaker, always talking to his audience, including their interests and imagination in his. As Hostel Superintendent he maintained a contented Hostel. Wesley will remember Mr. de Lanerolle as a good disciplinarian and Christian gentleman. We wish him well at Kingswood, but hope that he will once again come back to his 'first love', Wesley.
GRANT HIM O LORD
By Dr.Nihal D Amerasekera
A Guru is far more than a teacher in the ordinary sense of the word. A teacher gives knowledge, but a Guru gives himself. - Anagarika Govinda 1898-1985
Mr Edmund Dissanayake's association with Wesley spanned well over 60 years. He was, throughout his long career, a notable and prominent figure at school. His greatest achievement consisted perhaps in being an outstanding character. Mr Edmund Dissanayake's self-confidence impressed his colleagues and his students alike. Above all he is decent, good-natured, courteous and loyal — qualities that coloured his judgments and lent charm and grace to his undoubted worldliness.
All teachers are not the same. Some can teach but others, despite their degrees, diplomas and teacher training just can't. In Edmund Dissanayake I found a great all round teacher. He put across his arguments in a logical way we all could understand and had the kindness and the patience to repeat it all for those who were slow to learn. I came to know him first in Form 1 when he taught us Maths. Though he never resorted to physical violence he had the attention of the class and also had its respect. He had a great sense of humour which helped to breakdown barriers and reach the students who needed his help most. Above all I remember his genuine smile and find it hard to recall a time it wasn't there on his face. He was quick to lighten up a situation with his wonderful sense of humour. Although a Buddhist he was ever present at Christian worship in the Hall because he loved to sing those wonderful Hymns from the School Hymnal. No one I know has contributed so much to Wesley College, in the Post War period, than Edmund Dissanayake . As a teacher he was a dignified and forthright man who detested sham and chicanery. He was admired for his work ethic, thoroughness, and frankness. Edmund had an unswerving loyalty to school, family and friends. Plain spoken, sometimes blunt, he was nonetheless sympathetic and compassionate. Many respected and gravitated to him as a counsellor and mentor. As a teacher he was successful many times over. He brought honour to himself, his family, and his profession. He was a unique man in the finest sense of the word and now that he had moved away from its precincts he will be sorely missed at Wesley by those who had the good fortune to share his life and times.
Edmund was a familiar figure at Campbell Park during my time. His contribution to Cricket at school is legendary. He was at the heart of Wesley cricket, as player and coach, for almost 30 years. He captained the school in 1945-46 with great distinction and his magnificent performances and achievements during that period have been incorporated into the folklore of the school. He was a great team man, who mixed clever tactics with a determination to maintain the highest of standards. A true competitor who loved his cricket, he was always in the game. His 107 runs against Royal College and 6 for 14 against St.Thomas' College remain as his best achievements in those years as an all round cricketer. Edmund's head injury during a school cricket match, even now, is a topic of conversation at College sports gatherings and has had a write-up in the centenary souvenir. In addition to his accomplishments as a sportsman and a teacher he possessed qualities that set him apart as a humanitarian. He cared little about personal glory and much about people. He was dignified and humble about his achievements and always praised others. Danesh, his only son, followed closely in his footsteps to become an exceptionally talented all round cricketer at Wesley College. He was cricket Captain in 1989 when he scored 4 centuries. Despite this tremendous talent he was unable to play for his country due to manoeuvres beyond his control. This has been a matter of deep disappointment to the family. Edmund Dissanayake was the Senior Prefect in 1947-48 when with his charm and charisma made strong links between the students and teachers. For many years he has been the Master in Charge of cricket. His knowledge of the game, its tactics and nuances has been an asset to generations of cricketers at Wesley. He had a sharp eye and an exceptional rapport with the players. There was praise for his tact, judgment and integrity. The unbeaten team captained by LCR Wijesinghe in 1962 was the climax of Edmund's successful years. Edmund has written many erudite and comprehensive articles to the Daily papers about sports at Wesley.
He never forgot his roots. There were times he preferred to return to the tranquillity of his home town of Hambantota where he was happiest of all strolling on the sand dunes near his house by the sea. I recall most vividly going on one of his school trips to the deep south. It is a trip that is etched in my memory as a great success. It brought this bus load of raucous students closer together. He had a tremendous knowledge of the towns and hamlets beyond Matara, their history and their legends. He took us to a spot where the sea water shot-up 80 feet into the sky, with every wave. We stayed a night at his parent's house in Hambantota, a large sprawling mansion, not far from the sea. In front of the house was a marsh with a fringe of tall palm trees. I remember singing old favourites like The Ash grove and Brown Eyes in 2 part harmony with Nimal Sureweere in the stillness of a starlit night at Hambantota. These are wonderful memories of schooldays made possible by teachers like Edmund who believed education extended well beyond the confines of the classroom. Living in the Wesley College flats Edmund was ever present at school. In my last visit to Wesley he took me on a conducted tour of the Hall, Library, Hostel, laboratories, famous Tuck Shop and the many classrooms. The nostalgia was too much to contain. He knew everything about the school that was worth knowing from its humble beginnings to its glory days, the personalities, Principals and Parsons who have made Wesley so special.
The facts of his life cannot convey the furious energy of a man who was passionate about so many things. Edmund is a prolific writer to the daily newspapers and has done so for many years. Whatever view he happened to be expressing it was always very well expressed. He had a remarkable facility for cogent and colourful argument. His work has chronicled many of the great events and lighter moments pertaining to the school of the 1940's up until the 1970s. They are done with great honesty and without malice. Most of his work has been preserved for posterity in the Double Blue International website.
Retiring from the school after over 30 years as a teacher he qualified and pursued a career in Law at Hulftsdorf Courts. During his 'spare time' he was a valued lecturer at Acquinas University College. Despite his other duties he is always available for the school and remains a walking archive of the history of Wesley. Edmund has been a stalwart of the OBU for over 50 years and with his calm clear thinking helped to steer the school through some torrid times. He has ridden above the petty politics and needless bickering of the OBU which has sometimes been its scourge. Most of all, after his retirement he became the senior citizen of Wesley. He provoked the urge to change when change was needed.Those who worked with him and received his guidance benefited from his loyalty, and support. Edmund Dissanayake has been an excellent ambassador for the school in all those years as a student, teacher and in retirement. He now spends his life at Thalawatugoda with his family.
I remember Edmund Dissanayake as a teacher and a friend and have the greatest respect for him in all the years I have known him. He overcame the setbacks of his early life with courage and dignity. His close family is an immense source of support and encouragement to him. His marriage brought him great happiness and contentment. Lately ill health has prevented him from taking part actively in school affairs. I wish him and his wife many more years of good health and happiness as the likes of him are irreplaceable. His honesty, integrity and loyalty to the old school will remain a beacon for us all.
All round cricketer, raconteur, distinguished old boy and Guru we salute you for your invaluable services to the school.
By M. H. MARIKAR - Lower VIth Science
Transcribed from the 1961 School Magazine kindly sent to me by Dallas Achilles
After a long and distinguished career as a teacher at Wesley, Mr. C. J. T. Thamotheram retired from the profession in March, 1959 prematurely, much to the regret of his colleagues on the staff and the boys. Being a man of varied interests, Mr. Thamotheram was well equipped for the task of teaching. Sparing neither his time nor his energy, he fulfilled his responsibility with love and devotion. A stern disciplinarian Mr. Thamotheram was one, who could not tolerate any lackadaisical attitude towards work. It, therefore became obvious to anyone who studied under him, it was—”Disce aut Discede”
Mr. Thamotheram, or ‘Thamma’ as he was popularly known joined Wesley in 1949. He was an Honours graduate of the London University in Mathematics. It was therefore not surprising that he made his mark at Wesley as a mathematics teacher. With the spirit of a crusader, Mr. Thamotheram inculcated into his pupils startlingly easy methods of solving the intricacies of a Mathematical problem. If there is one category of pupils who will miss him most, it will be the ‘maths’ boys. It was with a blend of fear and interest that they looked forward to his classes. His keen perception helped him to understand an individual’s particular weakness. He would then patiently strive to eradicate that weakness thus converting an aversion towards the subject to one of immense fondness.
It is with gratitude that we at Wesley remember Mr. Thamotheram’s role as a Careers’ master. He carried out this additional responsibility very efficiently inspite of his numerous other duties. Many old Wesleyites are grateful to him for his guidance and help. There were times when he would go out of his way to help those who went to him. His knowledge and influence on men and matters were readily made available to those in need of them, and a number of Wesleyites benefitted by his help and kindness, and it would suffice to say that those who received his help were numerous. Mr. Thamotheram has travelled very widely all over the globe. It was this rich heritage and knowledge coupled with efficiency that enabled him to be appointed as President of the Ceylon Teachers’ Travel Club, and leader of their delegations, on many an occasion, when they went on tours abroad. Mr. Thamotheram had a good command of the English language and it was a pleasure to listen to him speak. It was in his capacity as Senior House Master of Hillard that Mr. Thamotheram showed his skill as an organiser at Wesley. Hillard house who benefited from his experience and efficiency was always at the top when he was its leader, and Hillardites, both young and old will miss him dearly as his mere presence was a source of strength and inspiration. I am sure, I am voicing the sentiments of many when I wish Mr. Thamotheram “ad multos felices annos”.
GRANT HIM O LORD
T. S. Thevarokiam: I knew him well, long before my Wesley College days.
First I met him was at Jaffna College where he was doing his B.A (Lond.) exams. It must have been somewhere around 1956-1960. I was at Jaffna College between 1955-1958. We used to travel back home during the school vacations by C.G.R night mail train (KKS-Colombo Fort) One whole rail coach was reserved for JC hostellers. The undergrads like Mr. Thevarokiam, Mr. Watson Wijewickreme both later joined Wesley as teachers. They had the privilege to keep an eye on the younger ones like us 9,10,11 year olds. The so called podians on our 12 hour journey down South. They have to see that we sleep,we do not put our head outside etc.
Mr. Thevarokiam, hailed from Kandy had his education Kingswood?? Train journey from Jaffna he gets off at Polgahawela to catch his upcountry train. He was Wesley between 1961-1972. He taught us History, Religion, and Civics. I still remember the first day that I saw him at Wesley, I could not believe my eyes ---- the person from JC now follows me here and I have to call him " Sir". This was my first reaction. He always wore white trousers and a white shirt or a light blue one. He had a tight hand on the students. I was able to learn "a bit" of History from him. Not much. We met each other last was by a coincident, that was in Bombay Taj Inter-Continental Hotel in 1972, that was where he was staying. He was on his way to Zambia to take up a new teaching post. We had a long talk. He asked me what my plans are and what I was doing, I told him that I just ended my 6 year Hotel Management Training and my Hotel Schooling in Germany The problems that I faced as a Tamil in Ceylon during my 3 month work there in the Island as a hotel pioneer and what we may head to when Ceylon turns Sri Lanka in 1972 ?.
We recollected of our school days, he as a teacher, me as a student. That was the last time I ever saw him. He knew that I am in Germany through James Sathiarajah." Thank you James". I expected to see him at our last Boat Dance after over 30 years, but he never turned up. Now I try my best to keep intouch with him and look forward to the day we meet again.
Mr. Watson Wijewickreme 1960-1970s was teaching English at college. He was also a news reader in English during his off time at Radio Ceylon. Later he joined the Ceylon Tourist Board in the 1970s (if correct). His office
was at Colombo Club near Galle Face Green, where now the Taj Samudra Hotel is. I met him a few times there when I tried to work for a couple of months in Ceylon, so it was then called after my training in Germany.
From the Editor: My attempts to get information about Watson Wijewickrama has drawn a blank. I am reliably informed he has now passed on but the details of when and where has remained sketchy. On behalf of the Worldwide Brotherhood of Wesleyites I thank him for his immense contribution to the life of the school both as a student and a teacher.
GRANT HIM O LORD
From the Wesley College Past Teachers' Fellowship Space allocations does not permit us to have a long list of names –we comment on the following Messers Charles Silva, E. L. Rodrigo, Sivanayagam & Ms. Isla Perera. Siva and E. L. never misses a function though at great inconvenience to themselves. D. W. W. J. is in letter touch with the President. Dear Charles has our welfare foremost in his mind, traveling is near impossible. Isla is at the Sunshine Home for the Elders at Moratuwa, this is in very close proximity to H. E. Church Moratuwa, she visits her son Mithral at Rajagiriya often. (2867935) We send these nice people and all our other members our good wishes. The membership can write to us and keep us informed about themselves and others of the Fellowship. Miss Anne Smith is also one of Wesley’s most senior living teachers. She regularly participates in the activities of the P.T.F.
Rev. J. S. Ben Manukulasooriya.
Ben Manukulasooriya was Wesley’s resident chaplain from 1949, the last year of the Rev. James Cartmans Principalship. He was an old Boy of Wesley and was enrolled during the time of the Rev. Henry Highfield. Ben was a popular Chaplain, and was in service during the Principalship of Mr. C. J. Oorloff. His death occurred on the 10th of April 2003 at the age of 87. He was then the oldest living old Boy, then, and also the oldest member of the Past Teachers’ Fellowship. He was associated in the revision of the Sinhala prayer book and the Hymn book of the Methodist church. Blessed are they who die in the service of the Lord.
Ms. LAKSHMI AMARATUNGA
We received information that Lakshmi was indisposed but now nearly back to normal. She has sent us her new address and phone No. 1/1 Kandewatte Road Nugegoda. Tel. 815884
Office Bearers of the Wesley College Teachers Fellowship 2003
Vice Patrons A. K. Suppiah (591653) Edmund Dissanayake (774433) Attorney - at – Law.
Vice presidents. Lyn de Mel (654537) M. U. De S. Kalupahana (693196) & Hony Auditor.
Secy .................. Asst Secy Felix Premawardena (861298)
Treasurer Ravi Mayan (670440) Editor Krisantha G. Nissanka(2345683)
Committee:- Angela Fernando (697193) Leela Fernando (868682) Lakshmi Amaratunga (863253) D. A. Pakianathan (074513972) Dr. (Ms) P. Thiyagarajah (440606)
President H. Shelton A. T. Peiris (862597)
Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam departed this life on the 27th day of April 1977, two decades and seven years ago.
He was born in Malaysia on 31st March 1898, one century and six years ago. He received his secondary education at the Union College, Tellippalai and later became a student at St. Thomas College, which was at that time situated at Modera. He was a contemporary of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike.
At the age of nineteen, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. Soon after his graduation, he became a teacher at St. Thomas' College, which was by then shifted to Mount Lavinia. Later he moved to Wesley College and pursued his studies in law at Law College. He became an advocate in 1923 and the dignity of silk was conferred on him in 1947.
In 1927, he married Emily Grace Barr Kumarakulassinghe. At his wedding day, he wore 'verti' and 'Salvai', the Tamil national dress in lieu of the Western attire, which was the prerequisite customary dress among the elite Tamils of the day. He was a Tamil nationalist to the core. Chelvanayakam once went to the classroom at Wesley College in Tamil national dress.
The national dress was looked down, as it was then perceived by the Ceylonese elites as the dress of the 'rustic natives'. The Principal expressed dissatisfaction that promptly made Chelvanayakam to tender his resignation.
An ad hoc body was formed to make representations to the Soulbury Commission on the demand of fifty fifty - a demand for balanced representation for the minorities within the unitary character of the Constitution. The ad hoc committee was transformed into Tamil Congress in 1944 just before the arrival of the Soulbury Commission. G. G. Ponnambalam became its President while Dr. Naganathan was its Secretary.
Chelvanayakam became its Deputy Leader.
Chelvanayakam, being a Tamil Congress candidate defeated the UNP candidate, S. Nadesan (Nadesapillai), son-in-law of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan at Kankesanthurai Constituency in 1947.
On the basis of 'responsive cooperation', Ponnambalam wanted to join the UNP Government while Chelvanayakam opposed his decision to join the government. Despite the vociferous opposition of Chelvanayakam, Vanniyasingam and Dr. Naganathan, Ponnambalam, joined the Government and became a Minister in September 1948 under the premiership of D. S. Senanayake.
There was political tug-of-war between Ponnambalam and Chelvanayakam in making claim to the Tamil Congress and finally Chelvanayakam inaugurated the Federal Party on 18th December 1949.
In the General Elections of 1952, the newly formed Federal party won two parliamentary seats, Kopay and Trincomalee. It failed to make any impact of political importance because the majority of the Tamils and the Tamil Congress, which dominated the Tamil political scene, then, believed their political salvation in unitary state under the leadership of the Sinhalese majoritarianism.
Chelvanayakam never changed his religious faith for the power of a seat in Parliament or to be a Leader of the Tamils, a community of which more than 85 percent were Hindus. Chelvanayakam was opposed in the General Elections of 1952 both by UNP and Tamil Congress candidates at the Kankesanthurai constituency.
It was predominantly a Hindu electorate. His opponents viciously reminded the electorate that a Christian should not represent the Hindu electorate. V. Navaratnam, who was described by Chelvanayakam as the 'brain box' of FP wanted Chelvanayakam to be photographed as accepting 'kalanchi' at Nallur Kanthasamy temple in order to send the message to the Hindu voters that Chelvanayakam was observing Hindu practices though being a christian. Chelvanayakam refused to be counselled to descend to pretensions of worship. He preferred to lose the elections rather than practising deception on the Hindu voters and embraced defeat by the UNP candidate, S. Nadesan.
Addendum from Dr NDA
SJV Chelvanayakam was a Maths teacher at Wesley during the Highfield era when PH Nonis was a student
GRANT HIM O LORD
From Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
Mr. LV Jayaweera was the Boxing coach at Wesley during the 1950's when the school produced some fine boxers who excelled at the Stubbs Shield. He had 2 sons in the school LV Jayaweera (Jr) and Nissanke Jayaweera who became prominent members in Sri Lankan Soceity.
From the Sunday Island 27/6/04
Before 1969, the Schools Boxing Association annually conducted the Stubbs’ Shield Championship meet and occasionally the Colombo Schools vs Outstation Schools dual contest only. New boxers feared to enter the Stubbs’ Shield Meet where champions of many years of experience fought and the boxing standard was high. In 1969, the Schools Novices Meet for the T. B. Jayah Cup was introduced where the Stubbs Shield and Junior Championship winners were not allowed to participate. However, it did not forbid boxers who had fought for many years at those two meets but had not won at the finals to participate. Hence, the first-time boxers were reluctant to compete even at the novices meet.
Photo- LV Jayaweera Jr
In 1972, Mr. N. Thambimuttu of St. Michael’s College, Polwatte and I serving at Mahiyangana Maha Vidyalaya (earlier at Arethusa Wellawatte) together conceived an idea to introduce a new tournament to eliminate this fear totally. We proposed to organise a meet for fresh boxers who had never fought in a ring except at their inter house meet. Mr. Wolsey Fonseka, the veteran Zahira College Coach proposed that this new meet be dedicated to the memory of L. V. Jayaweera, a superb boxer for 2 decades, Nineteen Twenties and Thirties. L. V. Jayaweera had to outbox many British boxers of armed forces who were stationed here, to display his supremacy. In fact in 1927, he had been awarded the prestigious Sir Henry William Manning Challenge Cup for being adjuged as the most scientific boxer at the national championships. He was representing Ceylon Garrison Artillery of Ceylon Army. Later he coached Carey College team, producing many outstanding boxers. When requested by us philanthropist Frederick Obeysekera the President of the Amateur Boxing Association then donated the challenge cup.
The inaugural meet was held on 9th and 10th of June 1972 at the Army Basket Ball Courts in Echelon Square in front of the Treasury building where the Galadari Maridian Hotel is situated now. Royal, S. Thomas’, St. Mary’s Dehiwala, St. Michael’s Polwatte, Zahira College, Maradana and many other schools competed. I was the Mahiyangana Maha Vidyalaya coach and their Science master. I could afford to bring only 6 boys because I had to accommodate and feed them at my place in Colombo.
Our concept of holding this meet proved correct and beyond doubt because the Mahiyangana lads who came to Colombo for the first time in their life won the championship. Of the six boys, five of them won in the finals. They were GNW Bandara (60 lbs), S. Jayatunge (65 lbs), H. Jayasinghe (75 lbs), R. G. Piyasiri (85 lbs) and W. Jayawardena (90 lbs). Our remaining boxer N. Premasiri (70 lbs) lost to M. L. Peiris of St. Mary’s after a close ding-dong battle in the finals. Jayawardena was the captain.
The highlight of the meet was a former old boy from Mahiyangana, Mr. J. L. P. Jayawardena a parent who accompanied the boys and me, were called upon to the boxing ring to distribute the awards. Mr. F. W. Obeysekera, the donor of the cup was the most thrilled and happiest person when the Mahiyangana boys won. Royal college was placed second and St. Mary’s Dehiwala was third.
Mahiyangana lads victory was flashed in all newspapers and over the radio. One paper commented that the strength derived out of "Kurakkan" made them to win. Another paper stated that Mahiyangana lads were made out of steel.
When we returned back to school, Mahiyangana Member of Parliament Edwin Wickramaratne rushed to the school to congratulate the boys and me. He donated a set of banians and shorts with the name of the school printed on them.
Of the boxers of the team W. Jayawardena later joined the Army. All others returned back to their traditional forming and some are well off.
Donald Munasinghe (Ex—Boxing coach, Arethusa, Mahiyangana, Thurstan and Veyangoda Central. Ex—President - Schools Boxing Association President - Boxing Referees and Judges Association).
A glimpse into the history of L. V. Jayaweera Memorial Cup Boxing Meet
The Schools Boxing Association of Sri Lanka, has made arrangements to hold their annual Inter-schools freshers boxing tournament for the L. V. Jayaweera Memorial Cup, from 6th to 9th June. This year's venue will be Polonnaruwa Royal College. Last year's winners St. Sylvesters College, Kandy will be making a strong bid to regain the Cup, but they will not have it easy with stiff competition from St. Johns College, Nugegoda, Royal College Colombo, Seevali MMV Ratnapura and the year 2000 winners Pilimatalawa M.M.V.
With the tournament around the corner, it is appropriate to have a glimpse into the history of this meet.
Before 1969, the Stubbs' Shield Championships was the only safe boxing tournament for schoolboys where the weight categories were matched with corresponding age limits. The standard was extremely high and the champions with experience kept on participating annually as long as they were in school.
The new comers rarely had a chance of winning. Hence in 1969, an Inter-schools Novices Meet was introduced for the benefit of new schoolboys in order to gain experience prior to participating at the Stubbs Shield Championships. This new tournament was named as T. B. Jayah Memorial Cup Meet, in the name of Maradana Zahira College Principal who had been a past President of the Association.
However, there were still lot of Novices, who could not win even at T. B. Jayah Cup Meet, but spiritedly kept on fighting for many years, until they finally won at the finals. By this method, they gained much experience. The freshers who wanted to box at Novices Meet were reluctant, fearing to face the much experienced boxers.
In 1972, N. Thambimuttu the Master in Charge of Boxing at St. Michaels' College Polwatte (Colpetty), had a brain-wave and suggested a new idea, a kind of panacea, to eradicate this unwarranted fear. He and I formulated a plan to hold a new meet, purely for freshers, the first-time participants. The meet was to be called the "L. V. Jayaweera Memorial Cup Meet", in memory of a famous and fine boxer in Nineteen Twenties and Thirties. He had boxed for Ceylon Garrison Artillary (CGA) and at National Championships held in 1927, he had been adjudged as the "Most Scientific Boxer'. Later he coached Carey College team. Fredrick Obeysekera a former President of the ABA volunteered to donate the Challenge Cup needed.
The inaugural meet was held in May 1972 at the Army Basketball Courts, Echelon Square in front of the treasury Building. The Galadari Meridian Hotel stands there now. The Mahiyanagana Maha Vidyalaya (now a Central College) boxers who had come to Colombo for the first time, won the Championship Cup, I was their Science Master and Boxing Couch. Of the 6 boxers we could afford to bring, 5 won at finals and the remaining one was runner-up. Giving publicity to the epic event one news paper had a caption "Kurakkan Strength brings victory". Another said "Boxers made out of Iron".
Royal College, Colombo was placed second and St. Marys College, Dehiwala was placed third. A farmer from Mahiyangana, a parent of boxer who accompanied us, was unexpectedly called upon to the ring to give away the awards.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Felix Premawardhana after a brief illness. Mr Premawardhana or “Felix or Prema Badda”, “Prema”, “Rahula” and a no doubt a range of other nicknames to his students was a teacher that began his teaching career at Wesley after the War, about 1947 or 48. In writing this tribute I respectfully recall the man that many of us feared as he was a gargantuan man(relative to the slight Sri Lankan physique) and he intimidated us with his bristling handle bar moustache and piercing gaze from those expressive eyes. “Prema” strode the corridors and campus like an army general, feared by many as he had over many years acquired this persona of a strict disciplinarian which was further complimented by his size.
As a co-ordinator at varying year levels many copped a caning from the array of canes he kept in his office with I am sure some of us still bear the legacy from strokes of his cane either on their backside, legs or hands as he meted out punishment for our misdemeanors which some might say with passion and others brutality. Many a student tried to develop ways to cope with the sting of his canings but they never worked for shortly thereafter ones flesh would feel the burning sensation and at times have the odd bruise to remind us of the experience.
To the Burgher boys he put the fear of God into them when he took them for Sinhala in Senior school. Coping with the language was difficult to some who barely coped in writing essays or reading. This was further compounded by trying to remember Kavi which we were expected to commit to memory. I vividly recall the many classes in the Highfield Block where we sat in fear pending our turn to recite a verse or two, or to see our classmates cower in fear when they could not remember their lines and Mr Premawardhana would summon them from their seat to the front of the class and there under his forceful gaze he would say “Bubby why have you not learnt your Kavi”. You could hear a pin drop as there was no response from the student or the class. Depending on his mood you may have copped the odd elevation of your hairline by a quick grab of your sideburns or a facelift by him grabbing your ears which were twisted to get grip and then very gently he would try to lift you off the ground. A smart remark or a frown on your face if you still had the courage by now would be dealt with a firm grip of the loose flesh of your belly which in turn would be given a firm corkscrew twist that caused one to bend over in agony. He was a champion at dishing out corporal punishment in an era when it was acceptable and the norm. In this day and age such punishment would be frowned on but on reflection it may appear to have worked in some cases.
In relating this aspect of Mr Premawardhana I realize that I have created the impression that he was an awful ogre like figure who strutted the corridors of the Senior School and campus precinct putting the fear of God in to all of us. Unfortunately this is how many will remember him which is probably unfair as there was more to this beloved teacher than that. If you had the opportunity to meet him or be privy to seeing him out of the classroom, he had a mischievous and gentle manner, exuding an ungainly charm and playfulness for someone his size. At drama classes and stage productions at school one was exposed to another side of the great man. He was a delightful man with a wicked sense of humour and could display a range of facial expressions and personalities from his many years of experience as a stage actor. In life, there is a time and place for everything and the transformation from disciplinarian was most noticeable.
Since leaving Wesley I met Mr Premawardhana for the first time when I returned for Wesley’s 125th Jubilee celebration after a gap of almost thirty years. I was expecting to see this large figure of a man who I feared once again. Alas I had forgotten that in those thirty years I too had acquired a significant portly physique and when we met and shook hands there was an instant warmth and friendliness and we were no longer in a situation of David and Goliath but two Goliaths. He was delighted to meet so many of his former students and keenly sought information on the many students he had taught that were domiciled in Australia. The tone and caring nature of his enquiry reflected the stature of the man and his interest in the wellbeing of his former students like that of a caring shepherd and his flock. It was a memorable meeting which was to be repeated two years later when he accompanied his wife in early January 2001 to attend a conference of the International Baptist Women’s Congress in Melbourne. As it was in the holiday season, at very short notice many old Wesleyites were contacted and we hosted Mr and Mrs Premawardhana at a dinner. The cross section of Old Boys in attendance represented his former students from when he first started at Wesley through to the 1970’s. As the evening wore on many of those present who were Burghers reminded him of their experiences learning Sinhala Kavi. Alistair Bartholomeusz and Trevor Collette recited a few verses still word perfect which impressed Mr Premawardhana immensely. Later in the evening a small presentation was made to Mr Premawardhana to which he responded with much emotion and sincerity. He recalled the tough time he gave the Burgher boys in his Sinhala classes and also as a disciplinarian but was moved that after all those years they were in attendance to fete him and recall those schoolboy days. He recalled with fondness the many experiences with his students that had enriched his life and which reflected the traditions of our beloved Wesley College.
I met him a couple of times before he returned back to Colombo and he mentioned that he had a few health problems. His main worry however was that he was having a legal battle with the new owners of his flat over his tenancy and was worried that when he returned to Colombo he would be evicted. Mr Premwardhana, Mr Wilfred Wickramasinghe and Mr Edmund Dissanayake were tenants at the block of flats behind College for many years.
In the last month Wesley has lost some of her beloved sons and now Mr Felix Premawardhana. Many of us share fond memories of experiences with these respected gentlemen. May your soul rest in peace Sir.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
The Ode is taken from the elegy For The Fallen, by English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in The Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914.
Addendum by Lloyd Wijesinghe
Adrian Keith de Kretser:Touched by your moving tribute to a colossus of the teaching staff of Wesley of our era. I joined Wesley later in my "going to school career", so I missed Mr. Felix Premawardena as a classroom teacher,but I still remember him - his girth, his moustache and his smiling eyes as we passed each other in the nooks and crannies & corridors of Wesley.As is the custom in the East to scatter the ashes of the departed in the rivers of life, now we have the internet to scatter the memories of the dearly departed.
At Wesley College from 1956-58.
GRANT HIM O LORD
The death occurred peacefully on the 11th of August at 7.04pm in Sydney,Australia of Mrs. Enid Annam Sivasubramaniam. Our Amma was ailing for aperiod of 3 days and her last hours were peaceful and painless. She was surrounded by her family and loved ones. Born on the 7th of May 1921, Annam (as she was known to the family) was educated at Chundikuli Girl’s college in Jaffna, where she passed her senior Cambridge examination on her first attempt, she then proceeded to the Women’s Christian College in Madras India to read for a degree in General Arts, majoring in psychology. This was during the war years, when travel was perilous never the less, she completed her education, obtaining a first class degree and winning the President’s Medal as the most outstanding student in the University, at a time when higher education was the domain of men. From there, at 26 years of age, she moved to Pakiya Vidalaya, Matale,as the principal of this secondary school. She loved teaching. Her favourite subjects were Mathematics and English. After marrying our father she moved to Point Pedro and joined Vadamarachy Girl’s college as the deputy principal. She taught there until 1962 when ill health forced her to retire prematurely and move to live in Colombo.
In 1963, she rejoined Wesley College, Colombo and taught English and Mathematics to the boys of Wesley, who were her first love. She participated in the school life wholeheartedly, never missed a cricket match, and took part in all activities of the school such as ‘Spelling Bee’ Do You Know? contests at Radio Ceylon, where she presented championship Wesley College teams. She was active in the life of the school until her retirement on the birth of her Grandaughter Diane in 1979.
We would like the life of our mother to be celebrated for all that is beautiful about it and for her Grandchildren and future generations to know what a beautiful human being she was, and to honour and celebrate not only her life, but her achievements and her dreams.
GRANT HER O LORD
Wesley Rugby 1961 to 1963
The only person who has the right to the title -- the “Father of Rugby at Wesley” is Mr. Danton D’Abrera the late, or “Dubby” as the boys affectionately called him.
His life did most certainly revolve around this rowdy game played by gentlemen with the ball that was not even round!!!
Dubby seemed to think about the finer points as soon as he stepped out of the right side of his bed every morning – even on Sunday though a devout Christian he was as well. Even the Lord would forgive him.
What I remember most vividly and with nostalgia is “Dubby”, running around Campbell Park in his flapping khaki shorts, white jersey tucked into his ‘jock straps’ with his whistle around his neck. It was a scene that had most of the players grinning with amusement but Dubby seemed never to notice. He had a one-track mind - centred on Rugby.
Mr. D’Abrera lived in Dehiwela and used to travel to and from school on the school bus. He would on occasions he ride a BSA “Bantam” known as a “kukula” to the boys. How can anyone ever forget?
A hilarious treat for us boys was to see Dubby on this little bike with the huge “Golu” Gunasekera getting a lift home after rugger practice.
Trips in the Mayflower
When he sometimes he drove his Triumph “Mayflower” new records were set as 10 to 12 twelve of us, would squeeze in for a lift home. How the shock absorbers lasted the journey was anybody’s guess, but it seems that all the Saints in Heaven loved Dubby as well as we school boys did, and although we feared break –downs, they never came. He was generous as he was witty and on many occasions we’d stop at Bambalapitiya junction and Dubby bought all of us ice-cold milk from the Milk Board kiosk at the corner. He was loved and respected yet he would also be on a different level whenever he made a joke or two. He was an extraordinary personality - in fact one of the few icons at Wesley.
Haliborange, muscles and Goliaths
There was the dose of “Haliborange” tablets during the rugby season. After all the rigorous games needed strong bones and stronger muscles and what could give us more than some of those orangeade tablets that made Goliaths out of Davids. Remembering the days when these health drinks were relied upon so much that Doctors did a lot of free advertising for the brand names.
While the rugby season was on Dubby the teacher grew another head. He was a full time rugby coach and a physics or mathematics class would change in a wink at the mention of rugby. The coefficient of linear expansion and Newtons Laws took a back seat -- the black board came alive with diagrams on positional play, “screw kicks” angles and trajectories for kicks, grubbers, hacks and the up and under. Scrumming techniques, loose mauls, hooking, holding the ball within the scum, second lines of defence, they became the subject matters for the period he was transformed. Dummied passes and even new experiments were always at his mercy. With his spectacles bobbing with the enthusiasm he generated. This was one class where the “back benchers” who were more into Elvis Presley than Newton or Einstein would move up without disturbing anyone then sit transfixed with attention. The studious types pushed into confinement to the rear of the class but attentive as well.
Unfortunately Wesley Rugby lost out when Dubby decided to give up being the Master- In- Charge at the end of the 1961 season. This was due to disagreements with the school authorities on the level of support given to the Sport. Obviously today, we realise that most of the best jobs on Estates in the Hill Country or the mercantile Sector and Banks went to those with good sports records. There was a need in the Armed forces for men with leadership qualities as always. But with blinkers on the authorities, decided that the sport of rugby would not help and concentrated on other less important matters. They did not; no they really did not have the foresight.
Wesley had stalwarts – but at cricket and this “new game” was too rough for these “drawing room” administrators. Other schools filled the lucrative position of senior executives and Commissioned Officers. Wesley had much less to talk about because they removed the diehard stalwarts and made way for half-baked bureaucrats.
The few years that followed were dark and rough ones for rugby at Wesley.Players like the late Daya Perera, Sheriff Fallil, C. Sin Sen (the two ton prop), Beverley de Neise, Haig “ten men” Maloney, the two Chang brothers (CF & CS), Jaardie de Silva, Bashudeen Musafer, Michael and Nigel Christoffelsz, Trevor Collette, Lakshman (LGR) Perera, Haig Claessen, the late police officer Sharir Musafer, Reg Bartholomeusz, William Deutrom, Ranjith “Monkey” Aaron, Lakshman Samaranayake the ‘fast breaking, non tackling’ Desmond Jayawardene helped by the School Boy Cricketer of 1963, Darrel Maye, Everard Walker, Lucien Fernando, Upali Perera, Hemaka Jayasekera, Hans Jonklaas and Roy Oorloff, all who had started the game late who along with the others kept the flame alive. Youngsters Cavan Gauder, Peter Smith, Glenn Scharenguivel, and even the Pieris brothers Nihal and Donald all donned on boots having heard Dubby on song in the Maths and physics classes as youngsters. Yet another Nihal Pieris aka “Bimbo” came on the scene. The brothers Mervyn and Russell Hamer were eager to try the intricate game everyone now began to love.
But the school authorities were more interested in finding a weak soccer eleven and Rugby had to struggle on.
The Dark years ahead
But the game was not promoted and certainly not assisted in any way by the school authorities. The players were even told in 1962 that as there was no master in charge, the sport, rugby would be stopped at Wesley a few of the seniors managed to persuade their likeable Chemistry Master Mr. Pakianathan to volunteer for the job. He did.
But there was still very little assistance for materials and the boys themselves, helped Wilson Perera and to erect the arecanut trunks ‘puwak’ for uprights and tie the cross bar on. Old engine oil was used to mark the lines!!!!
There was no coach, professional or voluntary. But the love for the game was so strong that many seniors took it upon themselves to coach and advice the younger boys. Travel expenses for ‘away’ games were extremely miserly and the players had to fund part of the cost. Jerseys and stockings were paid for by the players, and we can now laugh at how the 1st XV players used to warm up in bare feet or stay in the dressing room until the 2nd XV game was over to reclaim the boots they had lent the juniors.
The three years 1961 to 1963 produced a few highlights in spite of the adversity, as Jaardie likes to remember his team beat Isipathana, and nearly did the same to Trinity at Campbell Park. Reggie Bartholomeusz went on to play for and captain CR&FC, and represent Sri Lanka for many years while Basheer Musafer played for the Army with distinction then captained the team, brothers C.U. and C.S.Chang also Cavan Gauder played for Havelocks. Cavan was easily one of the best hookers in Sri Lanka.Trevor Collette played a few games for the ‘merrie men’ of Uva,, Trevor hung up his boots with the obvious injuries that plagued all rugby players as did Nigel Christoffelsz who continued to play rugby in Australia. Their knees gave way and both have now got injuries that make mobility a chore. While cricketers develop Vietnamese “pot bellies” sports hazards give soccer players “bow legs” and Rugby players brittle “Chinese knees”. Marry Japanese and you will acquire “Japanieces”.
In later years Rugby skippers like Ramakrishnan and Shee Hung, Jeremy Kreltscheim, the Ahlip twins were able to lead sides out to counter challenges coming from Trinity, Royal, St. Peter's and St. Thomas' without fearing a drubbing and basketball scores piling up against Wesley. That is if not for old Dubby instilling the love of the game that the boys carried on. God Bless his soul.
The Wesleyites who had grown to love Dubby and Rugby continued to carefully nurture and keep the rugby flame aglow despite the extremely adverse conditions. They then handed it over for the succeeding generations to nourish and fan it in to the bright white-hot beacon it is today. If Mr. Danton D’Abrera had not been what he was, had not loved the game as he did and not passed the enthusiasm on to his pupils the Wesley administrators would have allowed the game to be eliminated altogether, because of the fact that they feared hard physical contact in sports.
Members of the Old Boys’ Union in Australia have donated a perpetual trophy in Mr Danton D’Abrera’s name. This trophy will be presented each year to “the best team player” in Wesley’s 1st XV. Dubby’s name will live on and on and on……...
GRANT HIM O LORD
My association with Mrs. Chritobelle Oorloff dates back to just over three months (3 months and 7 days to be exact) before she was called to eternal rest on 17th September 2004. It is over a month and more since and as I reflect back on my brief association with her, a sense of amazement envelops me.
My first meeting with Mrs. Oorloff was on June 10th this year, when I visited her at St. Nikolaas’ Home down Sri Saranankara Road, Dehiwala. On entering her room, my eyes surveyed the surroundings. Placed neatly on a table by her bedside were many books and next to these a pile of National Geographic magazines. After all, many people do read such stuff and it is nothing significant. But at age 96 years and 11 months aided by a magnifying glass! This really astonished me.
She looked frail. The Home’s matron told me that Mrs. Oorloff was a little hard of hearing and that one had to speak close to her ear softly. The matron then took me to her bedside and said, “auntie…. one of Gillian’s friends have come to see you”. I was with my son and daughter who had visited her previously. I then introduced myself and told her that I had met Gillian (Leembruggen – her niece) in Melbourne earlier that month.
Since then, I used to go to the home as often as time permitted. Each visit was pleasant and she used to relate various episodes of her halcyon days. One such was her brief sojourn in Jaffna during the days of World War II. “Cedric (Oorloff her late husband who was Principal of Wesley and then Trinity College during the 50s / 60s) was in the civil service and was Deputy Principal Collector of Customs. During the war days, when rationing was first introduced in Ceylon, he was transferred to Jaffna to implement the scheme.”
She continued, in between chuckles of laughter, “when the bombs began falling in Colombo, the Deputy Collector ran away and Cedric had to be brought back here do this work”. During each visit, a different anecdote would follow dating back to 50 years or more. Her memory certainly was fantastic.
July 3rd this year was very significant. It was Mrs. Oorloff’s 97th Birthday. Armed with a flower arrangement of red roses to be presented on behalf of Gillian, I made my way to the Home. There she was, lying in bed in a pretty pink dress with the bed-sheet and pillowcases too of matching pink. I wished and kissed her and said that the flowers were from Gillian. She made me place these on the table by her bedside and said how beautiful these were. She had a birthday treat comprising cake, chocolates, and sweets ready to be served to visitors with ginger beer to wash these down. She was beaming gaily and looked a pretty picture on this birthday, which turned out to be her last.
Mrs. Oorloff was a fine lady. One among the lasting impressions she left in me was that anybody can grow older and it doesn’t take any talent or ability. She gave me the feeling that the idea is to grow up, by always finding the opportunity in change. This she demonstrated amply by her actions. She was a storehouse of knowledge and it’s a pity that the many anecdotes she had could not be chronicled for posterity. She was well liked by all other ladies at St. Nikolaas’ Home and many were the times they would take their trivial problems to her. Mrs. Oorloff was always gracious when proffering advice to whomsoever came to her.
It was my good fortune and privilege that I met Gillian in Melbourne and through her Mrs. Oorloff. To the very end Mrs. Oorloff displayed tremendous courage and had no regrets. She lived a full life and epitomised that the elderly usually don't have regrets for what they did, but rather for things they did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets. She had no fear of death even in the final moments. I observed this when visiting the Home the day prior to her demise. Intrusive medical investigation was taking it’s toll on her with the onset of pain and trauma. She was calling out to Jesus to "take her"!!. And this Jesus did the following day when she passed away peacefully at high noon, with Gillian by her side. Amazingly, a few moments before this, Bishop Swithin Fernando had been with her at prayer! On completion of the prayers and even before the Bishop could reach the front door of the home, she breathed her last.
To have known Mrs. Oorloff certainly enriched my life as she shared some of her great wisdom and experience with me. In the final analysis, she died peacefully.... the same way she lived. I did not know her before at all, but when my colleague at Royal College, Dick Siebel told me that it was former Trinity College Principal, Late Mr. Cedric Oorloff’s wife, I certainly did want to meet her. Having played rugby for Royal College in the Bradby Shield games of 1966, I was introduced to Mr. Oorloff by our then Principal, Late Mr. Dudley K.G. de Silva at the Bradby second leg game in Kandy. So, a bond had already been in place one score and 18 years ago which manifested into my association, albeit briefly, with this grand lady. To us rugby players of both schools (Royal and Trinity), there is some special affinity binding us. Thus, when Gillian told me to look up Mrs. Oorloff, how could I refuse? I am glad I did not.
Goodbye Mrs. Oorloff! May the Good Lord shower eternal bliss on you.
GRANT HER O LORD
DB Welikala is an old boy of Wesley College. After University he joined the staff and became a hostel master at Wesley in the 1950's. He taught us Geography in Form III. DBW had a tremendous grasp of detail and enthralled us with his knowledge of the subject. I remember him as an outstanding teacher who understood the teenage tantrums and odd behaviour than most teachers of his era. He showed a human touch and I recall his kindness towards us hostellers as we were far away from the cloistered calm of our own homes. For this he was rewarded with the loyalty and affection of his students. He accepted the onerous administrative responsibilities of a hostel master with characteristic good humour. His personal kindness was witnessed by many. He never used the cane, a rare attribute in those days. His accessible and unstuffy manner made him popular among students. He taught, counselled and entertained hundreds of students, earning a reputation as a witty, orthodox and approachable teacher. DBW had the exceptional gift of turning away from the minor misdemeanours of students. He did his utmost to give the leadership required to make us responsible citizens of the future. Although a committed Christian he kept his faith to himself.
As a senior teacher, at every stage, he was at ease with both himself and the career he had chosen. He had this vision that we all had the ability to do well. He helped the students to achieve their goals. He was courteous and knew exactly how to listen and when to offer advice. He treated all with great courtesy and friendly ease. In turn, one could not help but notice the warm affection and deep respect for him. Through his patience, dedication and compassion, he touched the lives of so many students. You never heard DBW raise his voice or lose his temper. He seemed able to maintain control by being reasonable and firm. Other teachers had enormous respect for his commitment, his attention to detail and his relentless insistence on following things through and getting them right.
He was a sprightly, modest man of great charm, known for his loyalty to his friends. DB Welikala with Frank Jayasinghe and Edmund Dissanayake formed an inseparable trio during school hours and after. My father joined them for their occasional sundowners. He had an immense vitality for life, a sense of fun and a great interest in education. As he was called then "Weli-Bolay" was the most eligible bachelor in the staff room - tall, dark and handsome. As a dashing young teacher he attracted plenty of female attention and was always in demand. Despite their impeccable behaviour rumours were rife of "affairs" which in those days did not amount to anything more than a chat. I can still recall DBW elegantly dressed in white long sleeve shirt and dazzling white trousers walking the long corridors of the school. Above all I remember him for the kindness he brought to the harsh environment of teaching 50 years ago. DBW had much to offer his old school but decided to leave Wesley to seek his fortune in a political minefield at the Department of Education. His charm and humanity made him a great success and his departure was a sad loss for Wesley. He left Wesley as he joined, a charming debonair bachelor.
On behalf of his many grateful students I pay my respects to an inspirational teacher and a wonderful gentleman.
Transcribed from a magazine of St Thomas' College Bandarawela
Mr. D.B. Welikala was the Headmaster of the S.Thomas’ College, Bandarawela from 1st January 1985 to 1989.
Mr. Welikala is an Arts Graduate of the University of Peradeniya and has his Diploma in Education from the University of Colombo.
He commenced his teaching at his alma mater, Wesley College, after receiving his professional English Trained Teacher’s Certificate from Maharagama Teacher’s College in 1985. His teaching career ceased at Royal College, Colombo in 1968 as he served in Wellawaya, Gampola and Mahara in that capacity.
After a brief stay at Wedamulla Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya, in 1973 as Principal, Mr. Welikala rejoined the Ministry of Education where he served as Adult Education officer and Officer-in-Charge of the Non–Formal Education Centre of Research and Development at Veyangoda. He also served as the Liaison Officer of the Ministry at the Open University. Later, he was in overall charge of the Adult English Education Programmes conducted by the Non–Formal Education.
A disciplinarian with high principals of conduct and professional attitudes, an his wide spectrum of experience in both in-school and out – of-school educational activities should stand him in good stead to meet new challenges that lie ahead for him as Headmaster of St. Thomas’ College.
GRANT HIM O LORD
By Shanti Mclelland
Mr. L. A. Fernando
Mr.L A Fernando was a passionate teacher who enjoyed teaching, learning, sharing and collaborating with students. He was an inspiration and terrific role model to students. Students gravitated to him like magnets because of his subtle style that challenged students' analytical and critical thinking to understand the subject as a whole. Mr. Lancelot Aelian Fernando was a dedicated teacher who always had time for his students. He could make any subject interesting and enjoyable. He had a way of teaching that everyone from a very intelligent person to a learning disabled person can understand. Mr. L.A. Fernando touched not only the intellect, but the very heart and soul of all the students who were fortunate to sit in one of his chemistry or mathematics classes. His exemplary character motivated students and instilled confidence in them. Students described him as patient, confident and supportive. He encouraged interactive dialogue via innovative in-class experiments; ensuring information is processed at deeper levels. He rose above and beyond the call of duty by helping students learn, grow and evolve not only as students, but as people.
Bernard Shaw says “those who can't do teach.” If there was one person to debunk that cliché, it would be Mr. L.A. Fernando. Aelian Lancelot Fernando was one of the most inspirational men I got to know at Wesley. My mind was continually blown away with his insights and knowledge. He has taught us about the importance of questioning. Indeed, the course itself could be titled, “Socratic learning” or answering a question with a question, "questioning was everything", questioning was to build a cohesively knit knowledge base. Mr. Fernando was the type of teacher where you cannot help but pay the utmost attention to him when he spoke, truly one of a kind.
Mr. Fernando was amazing; he has to be experienced to be believed. Mr. Fernando could explain mathematical and chemistry concepts in such an incredibly easy to understand way. He was also very personable and has amazing people skills. Mr. L.A. Fernando was incredibly patient and a truly gifted teacher. Mr. Fernando cared about what students took away from his class, including context and anecdotes that helped to liven up the most difficult of topics to teach. Despite the difficulty of the material he presented, very few students walked away from the classes disappointed. He was not only an asset to Wesley College, but the entire study of mathematics. Mr. Fernando with his instructional intelligence and pedagogical skills was able to keep his classes involved and bring a lot of energy, passion and humor to his teaching. By far he was the most interesting and charismatic teacher I have ever experienced. Moreover, he was by far the best teacher who could teach students “learn how to learn and excel at examinations”.
Mr. Fernando inspired all sportsmen, cricketers, hockey players, and athletes. When he returned from the US with a Master’s degree he joined the college hostel. He showcased his prowess in tennis at the college tennis courts along with Fred De Mel, Mr. Rajapaksa, Felix Premawardane, Wilfred Wickramasinghe, L. Dharmarajah, S. Thevarokiam, Arulananan Aruliah, R.E. Abraham, Cyril Fernando, and Frank Jayasinghe. He took over Hockey after Mr. Fred Abeysekara and Mr. N.A.B. Fernando left Wesley. He brought about a renaissance in Wesley hockey make Wesley champions and unbeaten for many years. During his time Wesley produced many Sri Lanka Schools’ coloursmen and captains. Athletics was also very fortunate to have Mr. L.A. Fernando take over from Mr. A. A. Swaris a former National Champion, National Referee, and Mr. Kiruppurajah a stylish 400m runner who later became a Director of Physical Education at the Ministry of Education. Athletics was back again at its best and many schools and national champions were produced during this time due to his untiring and inspiring efforts. Finally, at the age of 64 Mr. Fernando ran and completed the 400m event at the first Veteran’s athletics championships in Sri Lanka organized by the Mercantile Athletic Federation, a incredibly challenging feat considering that he had three life threatening myocardial infarctions. We know he did it to honour his students at Wesley!
I can honestly state that Mr. L. A. Fernando was the best teacher that I ever had in any academic institution. L.A.F cared that his students actually understood the material, and spent many, many unpaid hours answering questions well past class hours in his office. L.A.F consistently exemplified all of the skills, both theoretical and practical, we would need in the real world; and he was willing and was capable of giving all his time and energy to all to his students. [Shanti McLelland, 2009]
Mr. Haig Karunaratne
Mr.Haig Karunaratne’s love for theatre is palpable and contagious. His passion and skill as a director spill into his teaching. You can't help but get excited about theatre when you walk into his classroom. He is a vivid storyteller who can use a story to illustrate a point that one might not otherwise understand. Mr. Karunaratne was a sociologist who is passionate about getting people to think outside-the-box regarding human behaviour and social life. Sometimes controversial and sometimes illuminating, Mr. Karunaratne made social concepts relevant to students by helping them critically understand the world around them. The main theme of his teaching was that we humans construct our own social world and therefore we can make it a better one. Mr. Fernando was my English teacher in Grade 11, he taught English through drama and current affairs. The wisdom he imparted during his lessons stimulated me every week and changed the way I think.
Mr. Haig Karunaratne was always interacting with his students by making the course content relative to their day-to-day lives. True to his teaching philosophy of student engagement, Mr. Karunaratne preferred to dramatize with music and dance rather than teach with chalk and printed notes. He brought a fresh attitude to the classroom, got students involved in group discussion and used innovative examples from current news in Time magazine or Daily Newspapers to demonstrate his points.
Mr. Haig Karunaratne was absolutely the most engaging, inspiring and motivating teacher in aesthetics students had the good fortune to come across at Wesley. Mr. Karunaratne radiate not only confidence and passion in his field of study, but also an understanding of the deeper connections to other fields, history, literature and our own everyday life. Mr. H. K. inspired many to not only attend each and every class with confidence and hope, but now an ever growing thirst to learn and succeed in learning drama and theatre. He is a fantastic teacher, learned mentor, and an even better friend.
Students who had interests in music and theatre as well as a desire to enact traditional or create new pieces were taught drama which is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The word drama is taken from the Greek word meaning "action" which is derived from "to do" The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception. Adventuresome students at Wesley had the opportunity to showcase their talents at the Inter-House drama competition or at the Interschool championships.
Mr. Haig Karuanratne had the good fortune of having first hand experience teaching and learning drama in England the land of Shakespeare and Lord. Bernard Shaw. He produced many plays in English and Sinhala and wrote the music for Chalk Circle - “Hunu Wataye Kathawa” in Sinhala. At Wesley Mr. Karunaratne produced many award winning plays for the Inter-school drama. competitions and Wesley amazingly won many times because Mr. Karunaratne dedicated a lot of unpaid hours turning out actors from nothing even though Shakespeare wrote in King Lear “nothing will come of nothing” and Mr. Karunaratne did not believed in ‘ex nihilo nihil fit’ the philosophical expression first argued by philosopher Parmenides.
Most importantly as a teacher and a mentor he was able to pull in many students with his friendly and affable demeanor. Without Mr. Karunaratne’s persistence and dedication many of these students would have never experienced theater because no one else would have had the patience to churn out actors from many who just did not have the talent or the desire. While Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare plays and Mateo Falcone, were his favourite picks, he also enjoyed engaging and associating in the production of Chalk Circle and Merry Widow classics at the Lionel Went Theatre along with his mentor Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle. It is hard to find such talented, dedicated and qualified teachers, and Wesley was fortunate to have Mr. Haig Karunratne teaching drama, music and training the college choir for 25 long years. [Shanti McLelland, 2009]
Mr. D. M. Dharmaratne
Mr.D M Dharmaratne was by far the most challenging and dogmatic teacher I have ever experienced. For once in my many years at Wesley in Grade 6 to 10, I felt as though the Mr. Dharmaratne cared more about the students understanding and appreciating the material presented. He made sure students were fully engaged and they perform incredibly perfect in carpentry in the lower classes and Mechanical and Geometrical Drawing in Grades 9 and 10. The pencils had to be 2H and sharpened strictly to his favour. The drawing books had to look like priceless art, captions and titles in perfect script slanted to shape. Mr. D.M.D was the perfect example of an educator wanting to see students were properly educated and properly disciplined in getting it first time right. He was a perfectionist and a teacher who wanted nothing but the best from the students. Wesley was lucky to have such dedicated teachers who demanded the best, gave nothing less, and expected nothing in return except excellent results at examinations. [Shanti McLelland, 2009]
By Nihal D Amerasekera
A Teacher at Wesley 1953-1984
It is well over 45 years since I left Wesley and memories still remain fresh of our formative years. I first came across EL Rodrigo alias Peththa when I was a boarder in 1954. We must give credit to Shanti McLelland for reviving these memories by holding events to remember great teachers and Wesleyites. In those days ELR was short and plump with curly hair. He taught in Std 3 and soon became known for his volatile temper with a short fuse. I recall very early in his career, he was supervising prep in the hostel when we had to study, quietly. Absolute silence was not a requirement at the time and some chit chat was tolerated. For ELR study time required perfect silence and he did not tolerate any noise at all. I borrowed a pencil from a friend behind me, a transaction which was completed within a minute. ELR saw this and marched briskly towards me with his eyes burning and gave me a rasping blow on my right ear. I literally saw stars and lost my hearing for a week. His nephew , Ranjit Rosa, too was in the hostel. Ranjit received the same treatment as the rest of us and perhaps a little bit extra too. We cannot apply the values of the 21st Century to school life 50 years ago. Physical punishments were the norm and we were supposed to take them like men even though we were just kids. These had a positive side too. They gave us mental toughness and emotional containment that endured throughout our lives.
Whatever work he started ELR took it seriously. He immersed himself fully to give of his best. He became involved in the school Cub Pack with Wilfred Wickramasinghe. They were both vitriolic characters. The various activities of the Cubs took place on Thursdays after school. This was a daunting experience and the atmosphere was too intense. It was like playing games at the mouth of an active volcano. The eruptions damaged our egos but had no lasting effect. The green Cub cap resembled the baggy cap worn by Australian cricketers and I wore it one afternoon for a game in the small park. ELR saw this and confiscated the cap after a verbal battering. It cost Rs 14 which was a fortune in those days. This was the final straw and I abandoned the Cub Pack to play cricket in the small park without a cap but free to do as I pleased.
There is no one more unkind than school kids and we were no different. ELR was a Sinhala teacher and was excellent at his job. His English was not of the same standard as other teachers. ELR’s gaffs amused us no end. ELR remained a hostel master for many years. He had great concern for our welfare and our future. All his histrionics were channelled towards this end. He never taught me in class but those who had this good fortune have nothing but praise for his teaching skills and commitment. He did so with great energy and few complaints.
Whenever we fell ill he visited us in the sickroom until we felt better. He showed great kindness to those who had personal problems and disabilities and there were many. He was a popular teacher with a natural empathy for the young and the poor. ELR came from Seeduwa, a hot bed of Methodism, and was a committed Christian. He took our prayers in the hostel Chapel in the evenings where he showed us the path to righteousness.
My final contact with him was after I had left school and was a medical student in Colombo. I strolled down to see my friends one afternoon and entered the school through the rear gate at Karlsruhe Gardens. ELR was teaching in the black wooden classroom at the back of the school. He saw me and raised his arm and came to shake my hand. The warmth of his feelings towards a former student was almost palpable. We reminisced and chatted over a cup of tea. He seemed happy and contended as a senior teacher.
Dedicated teachers like ELR perhaps do not exist anymore. For many teaching is just a job . Teachers nowadays are always on the look out for more lucrative jobs elsewhere and have little loyalty to any institution. ELR was a good old time teacher who cared passionately for his students welfare. He showed tremendous loyalty to Wesley College where he taught for nearly 30 years. I felt deeply emotional to see him shake hands with the current Principal at the 2009 “Proud to be a Wesleyite” event. His longevity must be a result of his clean living. He looked well for an octogenarian and I wish him many more years of good health and association with Wesley College.
A Teacher at Wesley 1961-1991
It was wonderful to see Mr Pakianathan at the PROUD TO BE A WESLEYITE function. He was a science teacher at Wesley in the late fifties and 1960's and was a good one. He was an intelligent man who taught his subjects with great enthusiasm. He taught me briefly in the O'level class and recall his commitment and dedication to his profession. "Parky" was a kindly and compassioante person. His Hallmarks were his tremendous charm, efficiency and a complete lack of ostentation. I was fortunate to have many such teachers loyal to the profession during my years at school. After a long career at Wesley College he moved to St Thomas' Mt Lavinia where he rose to the position of Vice Principal from whence he retired. He has aged well. I presume he is enjoying his retirement now and wish him a long and happy time. We hope to see him often around the school which he has served so well.
Kindly sent to me by Wasantha Kasthuriarachchi
We had the pleasure of presenting a wheel-chair to Mr.D.S Packianathan. He was the respected Head Master of Wesley College and later Sub-Warden of St.Thomas College Mount Lavinia. We are grateful to the Wesley College Past Teachers Association Treasurer Ranjith Senanayake and the Lions Club Zone Chairman Ravikumar Sivasamy Pillai for sponsoring the Wheel-Chair. Our heartfelt thanks to the Lions Club of Nugegoda for initiating the project
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara - Father of free eduction in Sri Lanka
By W. T. A. Leslie Fernando
(September 24, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On September 23, 2009 fell the 40th death anniversary of Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, known as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka. Dr. Kannangara passed away on September 23, 1969, 25 years after presenting his significant and far reaching piece of legislation, the Free Education Scheme. He was also one of those patriots who led the national movement in the first half of the 20th century and prepared the ground for independence for our country.
Christopher William Wijekoon Kannangara was born on October 13, 1884 at Randombe in Ambalangoda. He had his early education at Weslyan High School at Ambalangoda. He was a child of 12 years when his father lost his job. This was a big blow to his family of six children who had to struggle hard for their daily sustenance. But Kannangara was courageous from the beginning. He wrested the Foundation scholarship and entered Richmond College, Galle.
Richmond at that time was meant for the rich and poor boy Kannangara had to undergo many difficulties and suffer embarrassment. Perhaps experiences in his young days might have induced Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara to fight so gallantly for free education in his later years for the benefit of the poor children.
Although poor in wealth, young Kannangara was rich in talent. He was often the first in class and excelled in sports in the field. He carried away the largest number of prizes at prize-givings. In 1903 he passed the Cambridge Senior examination, placed in the first division obtaining the highest marks for arithmetic among the students of the whole British Commonwealth.
After leaving the school he taught for some time at the Prince of Wales College at Moratuwa and then at Wesley College, Colombo. Sir Olver Goonatilleke a former Governor General in Sri Lanka was a pupil of his at Wesley. While teaching at Colombo he attended the Law College and passed out as a Lawyer in 1910.
He commenced his practice at Galle and soon earned a reputation as a clever lawyer. He defended those innocent people who were arrested during the unfortunate riots in 1915 without any remuneration.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara entered the national arena as an active member of the Temperance movement initiated by patriots like F. R. Senanayake, Sir Baron Jayatilleka, Arthur V. Dias and Piyadasa Sirisena. In the 1930’s when P. de S. Kularatne, G. P. Malalasekera and others introduced the national dress he followed them and appeared in the national costume. Since then he never donned the Western costume.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara was a founder member of the Ceylon National Congress formed with the aim of obtaining independence for Sri Lanka. In 1924 he was elected to the Legislative Council to represent the Galle District. IN 1930 Dr. Kannangara became the President of the Ceylon National Congress. In 1931 he was elected to the State Council as the member for Galle. In 1936 elections he was re-elected to the State Council - this time as the member for Matugama.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara was the Minister of Education in the State Council from 1931 to 1947. During his term of office there was a remarkable progress in the sphere of education. Free mid-day meal for school children, improvement in Pirivena education, establishment of the University of Peradeniya and the introduction of Central schools were some of the scheme implemented during his term of office in addition to the Free Education Scheme. Free education was undoubtedly the greatest contribution of Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara.
Higher education at that time which was in English was the exclusive preserve of the rich. University education was beyond the reach of even those with an average income. The poor had to be satisfied at most with secondary education. It was in this situation that on the initiative taken by A. Ratnayake the member for Dumbara in the State Council, the special committee on education headed by Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, the Minister recommended free education.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara introduced the Education Bill that contained the Free Education scheme on May 30, 1944 with one of the longest speeches in the legislature. When he concluded his speech on the adjourned day on June 02, 1944 he sat down under a thunderous applause. M. S. Aney the Indian government representative who had listened to the whole speech from the distinguished visitors’ gallery immediately rushed from the downstairs, took Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara by both hands and said to him "You would have been worshipped as a God, had you been in India."
Nevertheless Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara had to face severe opposition for the Free Education scheme from the vested interests spearheaded by the then Catholic Church. They did everything possible to sabotage free education and they were backed by the national press as well. Dr. Kannangara anticipated such opposition and was ready to meet them.
Some of the critics of free education, specially the Catholic Church suggested that instead scholarships should be endowed to poor children selected by a competitive examination. This would have been mere patch work to maintain the status quo. The rich with money influence and better English would have easily out rivalled the poor in various fields. Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara and other sponsors of free education were too clever to be trapped in that manner.
Some others queried why free education should be extended to the affluent Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara who had to undergo many difficulties and undergo harassment as a poor student explained that he did not want to have class distinction in education and create second class students. There were also some who lamented that there would be no youths to pluck the yield in their estates. That was the very type of inequality that free education aimed to eliminate.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara and his supporters carried out a vigorous and sensational campaign all over the country. More formidable the opposition to free education more determined he was. In this endeavour Dr. Kannangara was backed by the progressive Maha sangha centred round Vidyalankara Pirivena. Dr. C. W. W Kannangara held meeting all over the country, answered all the arguments levelled against free education and dispelled its critics.
They vociferously explained the benefits of free education to the masses and generated a strong public opinion in its favour. Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara then won over the majority of members in the that august assembly and saw the Free Education Scheme passed in the State Council.
The Free Education Scheme called the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ brought about a social revolution in Sri Lanka. It opened wide the doors of higher education to the poor. Education was made free form kindergarten to the University. Along with free education more and more Central schools were opened all over country with a greater concentration on rural areas. Scholarships form the 5th standard upto the University providing free and board and lodging besides free education were endowed to poor talented children selected by a competitive examination.
Thus the way prepared for those poor but clever children to earlier had only a bleak future to reap the benefits of higher education. The parents of those offsprings who could not afford higher eduction to heir clever children shed tears of joy when the Free Education Scheme was implemented.
Today as a result of free education, there are University Dons, administratis officers, doctors, engineers, accountants, architects, lawyers and Judges who hail from among the poor and humble citizens of the country.
To the surprise of many Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara lost his seat at the parliamentary elections in 1947, held two years after he introduced free education. Yet he took the defeat like a gentlemen and never grumbled about it. However progressive measures he planned like taking over of assisted schools were all shelved after his defeat.
In 1952 general election Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara was returned to Parliament as the member for Agalawatta but the vested interests saw to it that he was not made the Minister of Education. We could see that the powers that tried to sabotage free education are at it again. Now they set up International schools that come up like mushrooms and branches of private schools that charge lakhs on admissions in the name of donations. They are a threat to the free education.
Whatever the faults of education system like the necessity for tuition, preferential treatment to prestigious schools, political interference, corruption and challenges posed by private schools and international schools we could see the free education scheme still yielding results for the benefit of the poor.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara was born poor and he died poor. In his long political career he never used his position to amass any wealth. In his last years he had to be assisted by a special grant from the state. He is a great, colourful and illustrious statesman worthy of emulation by present and future generations.
Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara who was 60 years old when he introduced the Free Education Scheme lived long till the age of 85 and was able to see the fruits of his remarkable endeavour and take pride in his achievement.He is enshrined with gratitude in the hearts of thousands of us who have benefited by free eduction. As long as free education lasts in our country Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara would be venerated by the people in Sri Lanka.
Spelling Bee Team 1961 (Semi Finalists) Contest Organised by Radio Ceylon
Standing: AW Musafer, FB Musafer, R Sappideen and Robin Perera
Seated: Mr. PH Nonis, Dallas Achilles, Trevor Collette, Mr DAV Joseph (Master in Charge)
Mr. David Joseph established a new formula for teaching when he joined Wesley in 1957. He brought calmness and serenity to the harsh environment of education of that era. He showed kindness and respect to the students and in return he received their fullest support. For a teacher he spoke little and what he said was worth listening. He was known as a successful teacher with a friendly, engaging style. His teaching was characterised by a stress on the importance of intellectual honesty and his love of telling a good story. His good humour and mischievous streak made him a popular figure at school.
Mr Joseph taught us English in the 6th form. He had a quiet elegant style of teaching. We were mesmerised by his turn of phrase and the fine English. He taught us the nuances of English prose not written down in textbooks. I recall his erudite lecture on political speeches. One prominent Ceylonese Politician in his independence speech in 1948 said " with our heads held high looking to the stars and our feet firmly planted on the ground let us march boldly forward towards freedom." I can still picture his murky smile as the whole class roared with laughter. He had a warm personality with boundless energy, and as a natural storyteller was a firm favourite of his students.
The Winning Spelling Bee Team - 1958
In the 6th form his classes were a forum for political discussion. His hypotheses were presented in such elegant and forceful prose that it appeared plausible and prompted an excited and prolonged debate. His lessons were admired for their clarity and sparkle, and his theories for their boldness and ambition. Up until then many of us believed printed material cannot lie. He taught us to read with an open mind, which became a useful lesson for life. Those classes became an intellectual exercise. He had a phenomenal insight into the economic, social and cultural history of Ceylon and he imparted his knowledge freely and fairly. He was widely respected for his honesty by his students.
He was a rationalist, a pacifist and a humanist. Although his thinking was often coloured by a painstakingly honest, sceptical perspective, he never became an aggressive atheist, and he retained a love for the Church. We were immensely fortunate to have a teacher of the calibre of David Joseph to walk the long corridors of our school. He was one of the finest English teachers of our era. Above all he was a gentleman in the true sense of the word the likes of whom we may never see again in our lives.
I met him last in England in 1975 when I visited the Ceylon Student Centre in London for a cheap rice and curry meal. We sat together and had a long chat about the perils of war and the hazards of growing up with the turmoil in Sri Lanka which had all the signs of escalating to a civil war. He had just completed a teaching assignment in war torn Ethiopia and was returning home to Sri Lanka. In Ethiopia teaching is a dangerous profession, invariably well-paid and generously rewarded by the gratitude of the students. As was customary we put the world to right. We reminisced and recalled the good times at Wesley and remembered the staff and the students who made it so special. After a lengthy chat we said our goodbyes, never to meet again. He passed away in Papua New Guinea, quite suddenly, while on a teaching assignment.
David Joseph was a phenomenal teacher. He exuded confidence and professionalism but was self-effacing and modest. He was always ready to make fun of the establishment. He had the generosity of spirit that endeared him to all he met. The sky may have darkened the day he left us. He will be impossible to forget.
Addendum by Shane Joseph
David Joseph was educated at St Joseph’s College, Colombo. After completing his BA with Honours in English he taught at the Ibbagamuwa Central School prior to joining Wesley College. He also worked as a part-time announcer/presenter and English newsreader for Radio Ceylon in the 50’s and early 60’s. Among his contemporaries at Radio Ceylon were Vernon Corea, Priya Kodipilly, Tommy Weerasinghe, Joseph Mather and Dudley Weeraratne. While at Radio Ceylon he was a freelance scriptwriter for various radio plays and continued this involvement until he left Sri Lanka for the last time in May 1978.
Teaching was very much a family passion. Three of David’s sisters were teachers (Rajadevi Joseph was a teacher at various schools including Methodist College, Colombo). David’s older bother, Paul Joseph, taught at Arethusa College and was also Vice-Principal of Christian College, Kotte. While teaching at Wesley College David was a part-time student at Law College where he won three gold medals for oratory.
After leaving Wesley College he practiced law until 1969 when he travelled to England and taught at a state school. Despite being subsequently selected to teach English at an English Grammar school he returned to Sri Lanka for a brief period before taking up a teaching position in Ethiopia. He returned to Sri Lanka in the mid seventies where he resumed his legal career before leaving for Papua New Guinea in 1978.
David Joseph. I am his youngest son and, out of curiosity, I was surfing through
the Wesley college website when I found your kind and and thoughtful recollection
of my father's presence in the classroom. Dad and Haig Karunaratne were very
close personal friends – a friendship no doubt spawned not only from mutual
respect but also a common interest in the arts and language.
lure of teaching took him initially to London (he didn't like the cold weather
there) and then to Ethiopia. He left Ethiopia in 1975 and spent some time in
London again before returning to Sri Lanka. He passed away in Port Moresby, Papua
New Guinea, as a result of a heart ailment, in August 1978 while working for the
Anglican church in that country.
members who I'm sure would be very pleased to read it. The Wesley website is well
laid out and has a wonderful assortment of reflections from years gone by. It is
clear from the fondness conveyed in them that many teachers past and present have
made a lasting impression on their students.
GRANT HIM O LORD
Mr Van Sanden was a quiet Gentleman with a wicked sense of humour. He chose teaching as a professional career when he could have earned a great deal more as a Financier or a Financial advisor to wealthy Companies. He was In Charge of the Commerce classes at Wesley College in the 1950's. In those days Commerce attracted the riotous and easy going students but he handled them well and showed them the discipline and toughness required for the road ahead. He himself took life easy and enjoyed much the day to day banter with his students. Mr Van Sanden guided the boys to thrive and survive in the big wide world. He taught everything he could about business that was worth knowing . He was in Charge of Boxing with LV Jayaweera as the coach when we had immense success at the Stubbs Shield Boxing.
GRANT HIM O LORD
It gives me great pleasure to write these few words about our sectional headmistress Mrs. Wijeratne, with whom I have associated closely for nearly 25 years.
Dayanthi as her colleagues at work more familiarly know her, hails from a staunch Methodist family from Moratuwa.
The youngest in a family of six three brothers and two sisters, she must have been influenced to join Wesley inspired by her three brothers who studied there. She often says she accompanied her parents for the prize giving where her brothers carried away many prizes.
Dayanthi joined Wesley in 1978 as a Primary Teacher and after an interview was appointed Sectional Head of the Primary Section in 1995, succeeding Mrs. S. Edema.
She was felicitated by the staff on completing 25 years of long service to the school in 2003. Dayanthi underwent Training a few years after joining school, and along with me followed with success the B. Ed. in Primary Education.
Large hearted, impartial and ever ready to help anyone at anytime Dayanthi bears no grudges or is not easily ruffled. Troubles may come her way but Dayanthi says-"I know what I'm doing and there is a God above to judge".
Capable of solving problems without hurting people is a rare quality in her and she always stands for what is right. She will meet any challenge that comes her way- no task is too hard for her, an admirable quality in a Sectional Head.
A very good cook she is ever ready to share her recipes with others.
Dayanthi is the mother of two sons, both students of Wesley whom she cares for with love and devotion. This love is extended to all the little boys under her care at school.
As a colleague and loyal friend I wish Dayanthi many more happy years of loyal service to the school and church.
Mrs. Sherrine Perera completed 25 years service at Wesley College in January 2006. It gives me great pleasure to write about her as she was associated with me & helped me a lot in my career as a teacher & later on as the Sectional Head.
Sherrine is from a devoutAnglican family & had her entire education at Methodist College Colpetty. I can still remember the first time she came to Wesley and met me - a chubby young lady with her hair cut short. She was introduced to us as the intended Daughter-in-Law of Mrs. Isla Perera, a long standing staff member who is also an aunt of mine.
Sherrine is a very capable & talented person with a good knowledge of music. Whenever we have a variety entertainment or a Sports Meet, she introduces varied & colorful items which are appropriate for the children taking part. Ayear after she joined, she tied the knot with Mithral who was an old boy of Wesley. She is blessed with 2 sons, who excelled in both studies & sports in Wesley & are presently employed & doing well in their careers, and 1 daughter who was born after a lapse of several years.
She completed her training a few years after joining the College & later succeeded in the
B.Ed (Primary) along with me. Before she joined Wesley, she had worked in Maldives as a primary school teacher. Sherrine's brother is an old boy of Wesley, as is most of her uncles & grand uncles. Therefore she is quite familiar with the many traditions of Wesley.
Most boys who go through college know the as her Grade 1A teacher as she has been in charge of this class for the major part of her career at Wesley. She was the first teacher appointed to Grade 1 (English) at Wesley, way back in 2002. Whenever boys fell sick, I seek her advice as she has a fair knowledge of medicine. She is a good disciplinarian & a very efficient teacher who is dedicated to her career of imparting the maximum knowledge to the children under her guidance. Though strict at times, the children love her as she is very close to them.
Sherrine is a very active member of the Teachers' Guild and is its current Secretary, a post she has been holding for the past 8-9 years. She organizes the annual Guild trips & group sales for the staff. The annual Staff Christmas parties & Felicitations for staff members are organized by her in different ways each year.
Sherrine has a keen sense of humor & high standard of values, standing up for what is right at all times. I wish her all the best and hope for many more years of teaching at Wesley.
Miss. Gillian de Silva has been at Wesley College since 1980 to date. She has completed 29 years of service in this prestigious institution. She has been an English Language and English Literature teacher. She has also taught singing to the primary students. She is the English Faculty head now. Her dedication and dilligence has produced many students who excel in different fields, at present here and abroad.
She is the daughter of Rev. Roy de Silva. She was the guild secretary from 1986 to 2001 and also the P. T.A. Assistant Treasurer. At present she functions as the staff secretary at staff meetings.
She is pleasant and friendly and ever willing to extend her assistance and cooperation when necessary. As she has a religious background she conducts herself accordingly. Gillian shuns the lime light and is happy to work behind the scenes even for her own presentations. This is very apparent when she organizes the 'English Day' each year.
There is an interesting side to Gillian she is a very good cook and she has her Diploma ~ Home Science from Lady Erwin College India. She is also a great lover of dogs and would you believe this at present has 10 dogs in her home at Ratmalana. Finding homes forthe many puppies also keeps her very busy.
We wish her good health and long life.
Many students stand out during their career at Wesley College. There are staff members too who stand out from time to time. One such person is Miss. Oneetha Fernando who joined our ranks in 1982.
She has always been the class teacher of Grade 1-0. The class that had the bright orange chairs. Small in stature but big in personality.
Any who went through her Grade 1 class feared her and respected her. She would not hesitate to pull them up even when they wereNL students. Strict as she is, you would be surprised to note that because she laughs, bullies & jokes with her students, there were so many who were going to marry her. One little boy told her to wait for him until he gets the suite ready. The many stories she can recall from time to time are numerous. Though she is dark many a little boy, Strongly a firms that Oneetha teacher is fair in complexion.
Not only as a teacher but as the PTA secretary Oneetha has served in this position for about 15 years. She has sacrificed her time energy & money to organize 'Coffee Evenings' the 'Wesley Walks'. PTA 'Fund Raises together with others. She has always been the driving force. It is a joke along a that Oneetha will not let anyone pass her, without getting work out of them.
She has a rather sharp tongue & will lash out in the name of justice & fairplay. But she possessors a soft heart. Many are the members of staff who came to her, to pour out their problems & difficulties. Her students & their parents are also beneficiaries of her generosity & care.
Today Oneetha is the sectional head of the first Wesley branch school at Havelock Town.
She began with 2 classes and kept it running smoothly. As Oneetha is a stickler for high standards in what ever is done she works hard to maintain this quality in even "little things" that she is in charge of.
I hope she will be able to give more of her life to Wesley, to see that Wesley goes from strength to strength. May God Bless her with good health & happiness.
Mrs. C. Shirani Ratnayake had the deep joy of completing 25 years of teaching at WesleyCollege.
A pretty rounded lady walked in to Wesley College on the 10th of January 1979. The younger sister of MIS. Lakshmi Amarathunga, a respected teacher who also completed 25 years of service before she retired.
Mrs. Shirani Ratnayake was young wife and mother with two school going children when she join us her service were first in the primary section as class teacher other year 4 (grade 3) class but from the year 2001 with grade 4 becoming part of the kindergarten section, Mrs. Ratnayake appointed as the English teacher for that grade. She is a primary teacher.
Mrs. Ratnayeke not only work in the classroom but gave her time to extra activities of the school. She served on the committee of the II Teachers' Guild" 1979 and went to be its treasure. She was on the committee of the P.T.A. for 3 years. The primary SCM under her charge during the early part of her career. She now serves as the staff secretary.
As friend and colleague I should mention that' Shira' as she is affectionately called, is the walking recipe book. Verbal cookery classes are very often held in the "Ladies Staff Room". From time to time bottles of chutney and pickle are produced from her bag. 'Shira' is a caring person who is sensitive and easily moved to tears. Her over active tear ducts are activated even after hearty laugh. She does enjoy a
good Joke!!! .
'Shira' is loved by her pupils and friends as she continues her dedicated service at Wesley.
It is great privilege to write a few words to express my deep gratitude towards a teacher who has had a profound impact on my life and also the lives of many of my colleagues.
The teacher I refer to is none other than Mrs. Nirmali Fernando. She was not only the most well known and senior teacher's class bragging about how good and kind she was and told me that he had never seen a teacher who cared so much as she did. That was the first time I heard of"Nirmali Teacher". Little did I realize that soon I my self will get to know her and be blessed through her life.
In 1996, Wesley College took part in the Shakespeare Drama competition after 15 years
, but we did not have teacher in charge for the drama team. Mrs. Nirmali Fernando stepped in that point and took up the challenge to train a group of boys who had never acted in a play before and knew very little about acting -- leave alone the competitive nature of the competition.
This was my first experience of the wondrous gift of this very special teacher-but it was definitely not the last. Nirmali teacher was also the teacher in charge of the Student Christian Movement (SCM). She took
to this role like a duck taking to water. I was not around when she first took over as the teacher in charge but she seemed to know exactly what was required of her and she delivered in supreme style. She always looked at the SCM as an opportunity to help students have a closer walk with God and she always emphasized the importance of our spiritual growth. And she practiced what she taught us Nirmali teacher's Christian walk was transparent and she pure, and she not.only advised those of us in the SCM with words but set a splendid example through her life. She not only understood the teachings of Bible but also understood the troubled, reckless hearts of the boys. This enabled her to teach the Bible in manner that was clear and relevant to the troubled and confused young lives.
Her influence on the SCM was not only spiritual but she was always the first to encourage the ambitious plans of the committee. Many a time she would very politely disapprove of some projects and would take time to express why she felt so. This sort of humbleness and at the same time enthusiasm and her confidence in the boys won her the hearts of so many students. Very often we would see younger teachers look up to her with amazement at the locality and respect received from the students.
For students who had no love from home and who had deep problems she was the person willing and capable to show them the love of a true mother when they needed it most.She had so much compassion in her heart that didn't take her long to be involved and then she would work tirelessly to help solve the problems of her students.
She was also the most dedicated to the subjects she taught. English was a subject taken very lightly by all until we came to Grade 11 when Nirmali teacher was in charge. But we soon learnt that "no one knew too little or too much". She was both patient and adamant that all would learn English and was keen to leave no one behind.
It didn't take long for the students to look forward to the English period and be more involved in the class and most importantly, improve their English.
There are so many things to write about this wonderful woman of god. I have tried to summarize the many areas in which she has touched my life, but there are many more experiences and learning that i have not mentioned here. Wesley College has been blessed with many gifted, loving and intelligent teachers but our wonderful Nirrnali, Teacher dazzles and outshines them all. We were blessed to be her students but we all feel so sad about this precious gift which Wesley has to let go after a period ofthree decades.
Nirmali teacher, we are truly grateful for your influence and commitment to Wesley throughout the blessed year of your service.
From Mrs. Sherrine Perera Hony. Secretary.
Taking over from Miss. G. de Silva in 2001 it is with great pleasure and a sense of achievement that I present the Wesley College Teachers' Guild report for the years 2001-2004. Much has been accomplished under the able guidance of our energetic and dynamic President Mr. Kumar de Silva.
We embarked on a fund raising project selling packets of Mortein coils, dettol soap and a brush holder at a nominal rate bringing in much needed funds-Thanks to the generosity of a well wisher. Screening of the popular movie "Ice Age" helped swell our funds further.
Two hire purchase schemes, one with a cookery demonstration was organized where our members were given the opportunity of purchasing electrical goods on a hire- purchasing basis.
Whilst welcoming Mr. M.A.P. Fernando as our new Principal and Rev S. Fernando as vice Principal, we bade farewell to Mr. Dunstan Fernando, the out going Principal, Mrs. R. Fernandopulle, Mrs. N. Fernando and Mrs. C. Subasinghe who retired after many years of teaching at Wesley.
Staff members Mrs. L. Dias, Mrs. D. Wijeratne, Mr. Botheju, Mrs. S. Ratnayake and Mrs. D. Arulappa were felicitated on their completing 25 years of dedicated and loyal service to the school. Our congratulations and best wishes go out to them for many more years of teaching at Wesley. In accordance with their wishes outings were arranged to Kithulgala and Makandura where members spent a happy day of fun and
It gave us great joy to felicitate Sivalingam of the minor staff who completed 25 years of honest and loyal service, giving of his best to the many Principals under whom he served. - Continuing the traditions of our predecessors, even one or two guild members are always represented at weddings and funerals irrespective of whatever distance they have to travel.
All categories of staff: tutorial, clerical, administrative and caretaker were given a gift each in appreciation of the co-operation extended to the committee at all times. Since the P.T.F. [Past teachers fellowship] joined the Guild for the X'mas celebrations, a lunch instead of the usual dinner was organized, as most past teachers w@,G1!are in their twilight years may have had problems traveling at night.
This arrangement enabled many past teachers to be present and a good time of fun and laughter was had by all recalling past memories, anecdotes and renewing friendships.
I offer my sincere thanks to our Principal for his never failing advice and encouragement.
To Mr. Kumar de Silva who has always supported me and helped me, and not forgetting the committee and all members of the Guild I say a big Thank you.
May the Guild go on from strength to strength, in close unity and harmony, building all in one fraternal band leading "Wesley To The Fore".
By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
I remember as if it were yesterday the Principal Mr CJ Oorloff announcing at Assembly that a British Chaplain would be in post at school, very soon. He was one of the long line of Britishers who excelled in the field of education in Ceylon. We were immensely fortunate to have a person of the calibre of Rev Pile at Wesley College.
The politicians in Ceylon, at the time, were slowly dismantling the Westminster style democracy the British had established for over 150 years. The ultra-nationalism was giving rise to ethnic tensions. Dark clouds of political chaos and mayhem were appearing in the horizon when the tall balled figure of Rev Wilfred Pile arrived at the school. He came with his wife and two young daughters. They were welcomed most warmly by all at Wesley. The Piles moved to the staff quarters by the tennis court opposite Campbell Park. We often saw Mrs Pile and the children at the school functions. He preferred to wear his white cassock and collar and was easily recognised from a distance where ever he went.
Rev Wilfred Pile soon immersed himself fully in the life of the school. His most passionate enthusiasm, besides his family and the Church, was Scouting. He took charge of the 14th Colombo Scout Troop at Wesley College. I remember the scouting sessions in Principal’s lawn which became very popular. We produced 2 Queen Scouts during his time which brought great honour to our country and the school. The Queen's Scout Award is the culmination of everything you can achieve in Scouting and is the highest youth award achievable in the Scouting movement.
I believe he taught English and Christianity to the senior students. Rev Pile was a fine preacher and teacher who took great pains over everything he spoke and wrote. He was, in fact, a very able priest. His preaching was memorable and he had a dramatic talent for creating worship that was precise and not intimidating. Rev Pile had a commanding presence, and his gaunt countenance added dignity to great occasions at Wesley College and the Methodist Church. Up until his arrival no one dared question the contents of the Bible or the teachings of Christ. Those were taken as “Gospel” and sacrosanct. He denounced the mystique of religion. He changed all that and encouraged us to be inquisitive and ask him what we didn’t understand and clear our doubts. He was noted for his use of New Testament stories and parables to explain complex matters of Christian doctrine. Rev Pile confronted the difficult issues with his characteristic charm and kindness making the study of religion interesting and rewarding. He made students' philosophical problems seem burningly relevant. He was a traditionalist and was respectful of old Christian tradition and stuck to the basic teachings. Always available, enterprising and sensitive to the students' outlook and needs, he was a popular Chaplain. He was valued by all including those who were non-Christians and brought energy and dynamism to every part of school life. Rev Pile provided comfort to the sick and bereaved during those times of stress and strain.
Rev Pile was a tall, angular, energetic Pastor who was a committed churchman of a style now much less common. He expressed his spirituality with attention to prayer, singing of Hymns and a great love of people. Many profited from the depth of his spirituality, wisdom and humanity, and turned to him as a counsellor. He was a man of formidable intellect and was an eloquent and forceful preacher. Whether it was at school assembly or the Maradana Methodist Church his sermons were brisk and to the point . Having seen the horrors of WWII he was devoted to peace. 1950's were days of the cold war and the Iron Curtain. Russia and the USA were piling up nuclear weapons. He often explained the issues and prayed for World Peace. He loved the old Hymns of Charles Wesley and we sang them often enough to remember the words for life. Rev Pile was a regular visitor to the Hostel Chapel for prayers at 7.45pm. He was close to the students and his pastoral care was greatly appreciated by all. His reputation was built not on lofty thoughts and resounding speeches, but on sincerity and hard work. Moreover, he had a priestly dignity that was never stuffy and always accompanied by compassion. He was a person of profound spirituality. He was kind, urbane, witty and always conscious of his mission in life. He was subtle and disciplined and warm in his demeanour. Despite all this there were times he remained typically British, aloof and reserved. We are deeply indebted to Rev Pile for his zealous efforts in establishing the strong, vibrant Christian community at Wesley College.
There are some situations in school life one never forgets. I was a hosteller and we had to go to church twice on Sundays. In the morning for Sunday School and in the evening for Evensong. The evening service was well attended. There was an octogenarian, Mr Blacker, an old Wesleyite, who was a regular at Evensong. He was at school in Dam Street Pettah in the Pre Highfield days. Being very deaf and partially sighted he sat right in front. He always sang very loud with a quivering voice. Sometimes he sang a different hymn to the rest of us. As we are older now we understand the problems of old age but for us youngsters in those days it was hilariously funny. Rev Wilfred Pile ignored the giggles and carried on with the sermon. Mr Blacker arrived at Church elegantly dressed with a dapper suit. He was a generous and kindly man and a proud Wesleyite. May his Soul Rest in Peace.
I recall most vividly when after watching a cricket match at Campbell Park I was walking back to the hostel along Karlsruhe Gardens. As I passed Mr. Eric Gunasekera’s house his dog leapt at me from behind the half open gates. I saw a chunk of flesh from my thigh in his mouth. As I lay bleeding on the road I saw Rev Pile darting across the Principal’s lawn and come to my rescue. He carried me to the sick room and arranged for a taxi to take me to the Accident Unit at the General Hospital Colombo. I never got a chance to thank him.
As the years rolled by Rev Pile became an integral part of the school. Just when we began to appreciate his presence and contribution to the life of the school we were told "the Piles were leaving". We were sad to see them go. He said goodbye at the farewell assembly, which was packed to the rafters. Rev Pile is a gentleman in the true sense of the word. A kind and courteous man, he was as diligent in his friendships and generosity as in his conduct as a Chaplain. He was a most gifted teacher, a kind mentor and gentle critic, and quite extraordinarily congenial. He had been fully involved, like his wife, in the civic life of the school. No one could replace Rev Pile and no one will. What I would remember most of all about Rev Wilfred Pile is that he always seemed calm and at peace.
He left Ceylon with his family and worked in many parishes in England until retirement. Sadly his wife passed away a few years ago. Rev Pile now lives in, "Homewood", a Methodist Residential Home, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire (about 85 miles from London). In his retirement he can be proud of what he has achieved at Wesley College and in the parishes up and down the country. Senthil Sinniah, Azahim Mohamed and Brian Mack went to see him in December 2009 when he greeted them most warmly. He is 95 years old and very alert although feeble. He is proud of having raised the profile of the Church wherever he worked, and drew great satisfaction from his achievements as Chaplain of Wesley College.
On behalf of all Wesleyites I wish him many more years of good health and happiness.
The Grand Old Lady of Wesley Celebrates 90 Years.
Mrs. Helen Bartholomeusz, better known to generations of Old Wesleyites as Miss Helen Joseph, Teacher, celebrated her 90th Birthday last week. Brother Langston and his wife Maureen hosted family and friends at their home for a celebratory luncheon in her honour, assisted by Helen’s daughters Lorraine and Diana, son Adrian and Helen’s niece Jennifer The years have been kind to Helen, who has always been a welcome guest at Wesley Seniors’ Luncheons and at other times when she has responded to invitations which concerned the school she loved so much. Always a lively guest, last Sunday was no exception as she spoke with a number of telephone callers wishing her on her special day. At the request of Langston, a Prayer of Thanksgiving was offered by Rev. Crosbie de Kretser for God’s care and guidance of Helen throughout her life, after which he sang the words of the beautiful “Blessing”, all the time with his loving arms around her shoulders. Helen knew all the words and sang along with Rev. de Kretser. It was a special moment that touched the hearts of everyone. We extend our own special Blessing and gratitude to Helen for a life dedicated to teaching at Wesley and for the love and passing on to generations of children the codes and values that have supported her so well for so many years. We wish her God’s continued nurturing, love and care for many more
years to come.
WE Thank you, Miss.
HELEN BARTHOLOMEUSZ by Langston Joseph (From the OBUA Newsletter Sept 2012)
Truly, a member of the Old School – our loved Wesley College. And that, I feel, is one of the sincerest ways to remember Helen Bartholomeusz – my big sister! Of course, in that context. we can never forget the other family member of the Old School – our Mother, Mrs. Netta Joseph, who will be remembered, with love and affection, not only for grooming Helen as a School Teacher, but also for her dedication to her Students, several of whom shone in their post-School careers, in the Public and Diplomatic services, and were a credit to their alma mater.
Some of Helen's family and friends met on Sunday, 24th. June 2012, at Allambie Nursing Centre, Kingston, to join her in celebrating her 92nd
Birthday. It was a very happy occasion - which I feel certain she too enjoyed. 'Old timers' of Wesley – boys and girls – one girl in particular, Beryl Robertson, who was present at the celebration, remembers Helen as her 2nd. Standard Class Teacher, and Music Teacher. Helen's valued contribution as a Church Organist, will always be remembered.
Like our revered Mother, Music was Helen's forte and, as an accomplished pianist, she was awarded her gold medals as a Licentiate of the Trinity College of Music, and the Royal School of Music, England respectively. Coupled with these choice achievements, she was invited, as the Guest Pianist, to provide the Item of Music, at the Awards Night, presided over by the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Reginald Stubbs - indeed, a much coveted honour!
We congratulate her on this milestone occasion, and wish her God's choicest Blessings as time moves on.
- In Memoriam - Mrs Helen Bartholomeusz Added 28th July 2016
She was one of the first people to garner your confidence and welcome you to Wesley College leaving your parents with a tear in their eye as she led you away to your classroom to begin your first day at school. Her gentle demeanour and caring nature soon replaced the nurturing and love of your mother. To the senior students she was attractive, sexy and strutted along the corridors of College with a wiggle which fanned the flames of passion and interest in the opposite gender.
She still looks stunning as she nears four score years. Father time has been kind to her. Many generations of Wesleyites had the pleasure of being taught by her over a career spanning more than 25 years of dedicated service as a teacher at Wesley.
With Miss Dulcie de Mel and Mrs S E G Perera they formed the core of the sub-primary section at Wesley College for many years. I fondly remember her and have etched in my mind my first days at Wesley in 1959. Do you remember her and do you know who she is? This is a recent photograph of her which was taken when the Class of 88 felicitated their teachers. Full story on page 20. She is Miss Norma de Silva (still a MISS).
A Tribute to a fine Teacher with Simple Elegance by Dr N D Amerasekera
"She was as beautiful as she was sweet"
Miss Norma De Silva was a teacher in the Kindergarten during my years at school. She was a fine teacher and earned the respect of fellow teachers and parents alike. She treated the kids as her own and the children loved her. She did not indulge in tantrums or engage in arguments. Many leading traits of her character, personal and professional, must have come from her strong Christian background. She was a regular at Christian worship in the Great Hall.
Her father was a high Official in the Prisons Department and she lived in the Prison Quarters with her parents and 2 brothers, Rex and Rienzie, both of whom were talented sportsmen at Wesley College in the 1950's. Rienzie (R.M.De Silva) was the school cricket captain in the Christmas Term of 1956. He became the Senior Prefect in that same year.
When she first appeared on the scene at Wesley Miss Norma was an overnight sensation. She was vivacious and an alluring beauty who personified simple elegance and glamour. Her elfin figure was a dress-designer's dream. The expressive brown eyes, high cheekbones, sensuous lips, soft chin and broad forehead personified her elegance. Her cascading black hair and dazzling smile enhanced the lives of many youngsters at school. Many were mesmerised by her beauty. Miss Norma De Silva had the unparalleled glow and energy that enamoured her to the school community.
Her appeal lay precisely in the fact that she was elusive and never set herself up as a symbol of beauty. Throughout her time at school she conducted herself with great poise and dignity. She remained unaffected, intelligent and warm. Despite her beauty she maintained a descrete, low profile and scrupulously clean lifestyle. Her style was never flirtatious, wanton or lascivious. Behind the good looks, one sensed a certain impish speculative flightiness about her. The image was simply rapturous joy in glorious technicolour. She never pursued the spotlight or personal glory. Her relaxing smile, her low-heeled shoes, short walking stride and minimal makeup became her trade mark which we all recognised and loved. Miss Norma De Silva earned the respect of everyone who came to know her including the many Wesleyites who adored her. And above all, she had tremendous charm which made the whole worldfall in love with her. As a member of her enormous fan club I consider it a priviledge to pen a few words of appreciation. We imagined that Prince Charming will emerge from her countless admirers to whisk her away to live happily ever after but Norma has remained a bachelor girl and retained her independence. Miss Norma De Silva will always remain a glowing Icon of our schooldays. The passage of years has not diminished her fine good looks. We wish her a long and happy retirement.
She was a great distraction in our daily routine at school as our hormones were starting to rage then. If by this description you get the impression "Mayhem ruled ok" at Wesley in those days, nothing could be further from the truth. With Cedric Oorloff at the helm Discipline with a capital "D" ruled supreme. Teachers of that era had tremendous respect and they earned it. Comments about teachers were never tolerated. As I write these notes instinctively I keep looking over my left shoulder for that dreaded call to the office !!!
I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Miss Norma De Silva in the Principal's lawn at the great reunion of September 2012. She was displeased that her brothers names were not mentioned during the festivities and at the Assembly for the Old Boys. She didn't mince her words and was in an uncharacteristically belligerent mood. I hope the delicious egg hoppers on offer and the Ceylon tea managed to calm her down. She did force a smile to the many who gathered round her before the end of the party. She has kept her poise and beauty and hasn't lost her elegance of 50 years ago !! NDA
By Dr. Nihal D Amerasekera
The lady teachers of my era were unforgettable people. They were a formidable force at Wesley. Working as a woman in the Fifties meant you had to be tough. Tough doesn’t mean hard, it means resilient. They were good teachers and showed kindness and concern for our welfare.
At Wesley we were in an all male environment except for some members of the staff. There were some pretty young 'things' who came to teach us and the teenage boys who were charged with testosterone were mesmerised by them. I am reminded of that 1958 film Gigi with Maurice Chevalier when he sang "Thank heavens for little girls" and ended the song "without them what would little boys do". Those 'young things' weren't little and neither were the boys. The teachers had inspired very many not-so-little boys to have sweet dreams!! The senior teachers weren't amused and kept a close eye on the situation.
Some Lady Teachers in 1963
A Teacher at Wesley 1928-1954
She was a graceful lady who played the piano at assembly and was Head of the Kindergarten for many many years. The children loved her. Mrs Leembruggen brought warmth and love to the very young who started life at Wesley. She made the Kindergarten a home away from home for all the kids under her care. She interacted perfectly with the parents.
Mrs Leembruggen taught countless students how to read, socially interact and grow. She was patient, kind and delicate towards the children. Reading out loud to kids from favorite books was one of her greatest pleasures. She loved watching the kids change from "babies" into primary school students. Mrs. Leembruggen urged students to see the school as a place of wonder. She created an environment of mutual respect and tolerance from the first day of school. She gave them a sense of identity, religion, history, and a love for our beautiful Island. Mrs Leembruggen was part of the very fabric that makes the school family what it is. She loved every single kid in her class genuinely
Mrs Joyce Leembruggen was God's gift to our kindergarten. I am yet to meet a kinder person than Mrs. Leembruggen. She showed the parents, children and the fellow teachers the charm of old - world courtesy.
She retired and returned to her home in Chilaw and spent her retirement by the deep blue sea enjoying its rich bounty, its golden sunset and the crisp dawn.
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
GRANT HER O LORD
Few teachers combined sophistication, intelligence and charm to such effect as Mrs. Rachel Leembruggen. She was a kind lady who was a regular at prayers in the Great Hall. She cherished the spirit and hope of young people. Her interests were literary and taught English in the middle school.
Her benign influence, huge tolerance and keen intelligence had a profound effect on those of us fortunate enough to have studied under her. There was also a vitality, energy and humour in her style of teaching which everyone in the school found attractive. A demanding teacher, she connected with students through her natural enthusiasm for the English language.
Mrs. Leembruggen never imposed her opinions. As students to be accorded such respect was a privilege indeed. Her own talent, warmth, generosity of spirit and commitment to the true principles of education were an inspiration to all who knew her. She was good-natured, straightforward and fun-loving; her face invariably wore a smile, and she greeted all that life offered with the usual European chuckle. Her generosity was boundless she was the most admirable of all the lady teachers.
She had unbelievable flair and was much admired for her velvety voice and her stories, told with wit, humour and without any malice. She attracted a coterie of young followers whose ambitions and dreams she encouraged while making them feel valued and interesting. She was intolerant of sloppy speech and grammar and helped us to read and write well.
Mrs. Rachel Leembruggen was a lady in every sense of the word, pretty, elegant and always immaculately dressed. She spoke softly with a perfect aristocratic accent. She was full of wonderful gaiety and
Mrs Rachel Leembruggen made an important and valuable contribution to the life of the school. Her down-to-earth practicality and her independent-mindedness shone through throughout her teaching career. Her husband was a Deputy Inspector General of Police in Colombo and they enjoyed a happy married life. Mrs Christobelle Oorloff was Mrs Leembruggen's sister in law ( Husband's sister) . Her pretty daughter, Gillian lived with the Oorloffs at the Principal's Bungalow. We often saw her in the evenings playing with her dog in their beautifully manicured lawn.
She took early retirement for personal reasons. We were sad to hear she passed away at a relatively young age. She retained into her final years the youthful, nervy, restless quality that she had during her time at Wesley. Mrs Leembruggen touched the lives of hundreds of students and her popularity at school proved enduring. She has passed into the "Great Beyond" but her spirit still lives on in the hearts and minds of her students, friends and family.
You being there,
Our happy times,
We’ve all shared.
You’ll be gone,
So thank you for,
All you’ve done.
GRANT HER O LORD
- In Memoriam - Clarinda Trissette Dulcie De Mel (23/05/12)
- Mrs S.E.G Perera by Mr John Vethanayagam
- Christobelle Enid Oorloff by Nihal D Amerasekera
- Christobelle Enid Oorloff By Branu Rahim
- Mrs. Sivasubramaniam - by Keith De Kretser
- Enid Annam Sivasubramaniam By Ponnambalam Sivasubramaniam
- A Tribute to Miss Norma De Silva from the Wesley Times Nov 2010
Mrs Deutrom was kind but tough and helped to maintain law and order at school. She was intensely loyal to Wesley College. Her son, William Deutrom, has now taken up the baton to improve standards at Wesley.
GRANT THEM O LORD
Mrs Sheila Wijeyekoon
taught the sub-primary classes. She had a positive energy which touched the soul of everyone she came into contact with. Her son Bryan was a student at Wesley and is now a stalwart of the Australian OBU.
GRANT HER O LORD
Mrs. Doris Deutrom taught in the Kindergarten
Mrs SEG Perera was the queen of the Kindergarten and was well respected by all.
May she reach the ultimate Bliss of Nirvana
Mrs. Elna Wickramasinghe was a pretty and impeccably turned out lady who played the the piano for the singing lessons in the Primary Classes. She worked in tandem with Mrs. S.E.G Perera, another stalwart of that era. I remember with much fondness the kindness she showed us when we were young students. Tiny and fizzing with energy she had the rare gift of patience with us kids some of whom never could sing to tune or hold the rhythm. Miss Elna had to play the piano and repeat the songs over and over again. Most remarkably Miss Elna could do so with a smile. Her dedication to duty was obvious. We sang with gusto the ever popular songs of Sunil Santha and also those of the famous singing duo Chitra and Somapala. Even now when I hear them my mind often goes back to those happy days in peaceful Ceylon.
When Mr Wilfred Wickramasinghe accompanied us to the singing classes Cupid had a field day. Miss Elna married Wilfred Wickremasinghe, my class teacher in the primary school, at the Maradana Methodist Church in 1952. I recall this happy event with much nostalgia. I was present at the wedding being in the choir which was conducted by Mr Maxwell De Alwis. I believe the priest who officiated on this occasion was the school Chaplain, Rev Wilfred Pile. The Couple lived in the Wesley College Flats for many many years. Whenever we saw them together they radiated happiness. They made a lovely couple at work and we often saw them together as they strolled back to their apartment at day's end wending their way along the long corridors of the school. Even after their retirement they continued to work for the Welfare Board which depended largely on their efficiency and hard work.
Their son, Athula, played cricket and hockey for the 1st XI and now lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. Their daughter- Nilmini (9 years younger to Athula) works at Air lanka. She`s married to an Old boy of Wesley College - Rohan Perera.
The couple had great empathy for the many little kids in the boarding who were away from their parents. We remember their generosity when they invited the junior domitory students for tea on Saturday afternoons to experience their lavish hospitality.
From Athula: She Joined Wesley College as a teacher in the primary school and after serving for a few years she left to join the Teachers Training College at Maharagama. During her brief period at Wesley College she took a very keen interest in the primary school annual concert, prize giving and the sports meet. Even after leaving Wesley College she was very much involved in the school activities due to my father and also because I was a student. After retiring she came and worked in the school Welfare Office from 1984 to 1988.
After surgery in 1992 she lead a happy life and visited Athula in Saskatchewan, Canada. She believed in looking forwards, in keeping an open mind and remaining positive. She shared her enjoyment of life with everyone she met. Her health finally deteriorated and she passed away in Colombo in November 1999. She braved her final illness with great courage and dignity.
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
GRANT THEM O LORD
Mrs Iris Muller taught me English in Std 2 and she was the Class teacher of Std 2 English Stream. She lived in Borella and was ever so kind and often invited us kids to her home for tea and biscuits. She loved little children. She nurtured, nudged and cajoled a generation of students while having enormous patience.
GRANT THEM O LORD
The art teacher Mrs. Isla Perera
had a benign personality and commanded wide respect. There were the young ladies like Nalini De Mel, Miss Marasinghe, Miss Zeta Amerasinghe and Miss Norma De Silva who raised our blood pressure by their sheer style. Miss Nalini De Mel married LA Fernando, the charismatic Vice Principal. Tall and buxom Miss Smith was no mean contender being a particular favourite of the boys. She cut an elegant and chic figure on the teaching scene at Wesley. There was also a motley crew of young bachelor teachers that circled round these pretty young maidens. They all helped to form a unique environment at the Wesley Village in Karlsruhe Gardens. Some names and personalities will linger in one's memories more than others. Despite our teenage hormonal escapades, those were chivalrous times and we respected female teachers enormously. They touched the lives of all of us in many different ways. We will always recall and cherish those memories.
Thank heavens for those glorious years !!
From the School Magazine of 1958
Many members of the staff have left us during the period under review. We hope that the new members would be able to continue the traditions of their predecessors.
Mr. W. T. Canaga Retna has left us to assume duties as Principal of St. John's College, Nugegoda. During the seven years he served the school, he made a very great contribution to it. As senior Government master of the Sixth-Form he was responsible for a tradition that is still maintained-even students who failed the University Entrance Examination always passed the Government paper! He was also responsible for the high standard maintained in the teaching of English in the Sixth and Fifth Forms.
He was a prominent House-master of Wilkin. Mr. Canaga Retna's work as a "moral tutor" of a number of sixth-formers is specially remembered. He was very keenly interested in drama. Though a serious Christian belonging to the Anglo-Catholic Church he was ecumenical in outlook. He involved himself in all the Christian activity in the school, and contributed much to its spiritual life. He was the live-wire of the sixth-Form Union and the high standard maintained by the Union can be attributed to his guidance and help, which was always forthcoming. We wish him all the best in his new sphere of life.
Mr. lvor de Silva has left us to become Vice-Principal of Richmond College, Galle. He served Moscrop House as the Senior House Master and was responsible for many of Moscrop's successes. He also did useful work in the Hostel, during a critical period and effected many improvements. Mr. Ivor de Silva was a discoverer of talent. The present senior hostel master for instance was brought to the stage as '"An Adana race-book seller". This was drama at its height! Mr. Ivor de Silva took a very great interest in the Music and Drama society. He helped in producing the operas "A-ladd-in and out" and "Robin-Hood". The College choir owes much to him, for throughout his stay in the school he was the live wire of the choir. Mr. de Silva was also the master in-charge of the college swimming club. The high standard maintained in swimming and life-saving arc solely due to his efforts. As senior Geography master in the Sixth and Fifth Forms, he instilled in students a love for the study of Geography. He maintained a very high standard in the teaching of Geography. Finally, the greatest contribution he made was to the spiritual life of the school. He was keenly interested in the activities of the S.C.M. and was able to witness effectively by leading a life of example. At the end of last year he led the Ceylonese delegation to the S.C.M. Triennial Conference held at Guntur, India. We wish him all success in his new walk of life.
Mr. W. B. (Ben) Jayasinghe has left us to join the American Embassy as Librarian. During his period of service he involved himself in many activities of the school. He first served Passmore House as a House-master, and later became Senior Hostel master and thereby-Master of Moscrop House. He contributed a great deal towards Wesley's success in the S.S.C. and University Entrance Examinations. He was an ideal teacher and inspired many students who were fortunate to be taught by him. We wish him all the best in his new sphere of life. Mr. Derrick Mack (now Lieutenant) has left us to join the Ceylon Navy as a staff-officer. He did much to further sport in the school. In the class-room he achieved greater things. We wish him all the best in his new walk of life.
The others who left us during the period under review were Messrs. D. L. Fernando, C. Ganesh, Agbo Karunaratne, Lynton de Silva, and D. M. Jayasekera. The school owes them much for their devoted services. We wish all of them the very best in their new spheres' of work. Mr. Joe Dassanaike and Mr. A. Sivadasen served the school during the first-term. We wish them all success in their future life.
We are glad to once again welcome Mr. L. A. Fernando to Wesley. We congratulate him on his obtaining the Master-of-Arts degree in America, and the Diploma of Education, at the Birmingham University. He serves us now in a new capacity as Chaplain. With the rich experience and knowledge he gained abroad be fits into this post admirably. We are also glad to note that Mr. Fernando has now entered the sacred bonds of matrimony. We wish him and Mrs. Fernando all the best in their future.
We welcome into our midst Messrs. Fred Abeyesekera, D.V.A. Joseph, Ivan Ondatje, W.C.B. Perera, Austin Salgado Frank Jayasinghe and Mrs. S. Rajandran. We bade farewell to two members of the Primary school staff. Those who left us were Miss. Nalini de Mel and Mrs. R. Perera. We welcome into our midst messrs. D. Jayawickrema, C. Wickramage, A. Iyaturai and Miss N. de Silva.
We congratulate Mr. Charles de Silva on his success in the B.A. (Hans) London examination. We are also proud to note that Mr. Kenneth de LanerolIe, our Vice-Principal, led a delegation of teachers to China under the auspices of the Ceylon Teachers' Travel Club, during the April holidays. We also congratulate Messrs. C.J.T. Thamotheram and Felix Premawardena on being elected President and assistant Secretary respectively of the Ceylon Teachers' Travel Club. Another member of our staff Mr. D.V.A. Joseph entered the
bonds of matrimony. We wish him all the best in the future.
A delegation of Russian teachers visited the school early in the First term, under the auspices of the Ceylon Teachers' Travel Club. They were entertained by the Teachers' Guild. Gifts were exchanged.
The Class of 1988 (GCE A/L batch of 1988) Organized a felicitation lunch for all the teachers who taught them from
Grade 1 onwards. The event was held on Saturday 7th August at Hotel Galadari. Invited were 34 teachers and 27
attended. The biggest challenge they faced was contacting all the past teachers, as the majority of our teachers are
now retired. Thanks to Mr. Nimal De Silva, they were able to locate the contact details of almost everyone.
Those who attended were:
• Mr. Gamini Samarakoon
• Mr. Marshal Fernando
• Mr. Sunil Dias
• Mr. Boteju (still on the staff)
• Mr. Sunil Samarasinghe (still on the staff)
• Mr. Palitha Fernando (still on the staff)
• Mr. M.A.P. Fernando
• Mr. Samaranayake
• Mr. Nimal de Silva
• Mr. Ravi Mayan
• Mr. Kalupahana
• Mr. Welaratne
• Mr. Gaya Wickramasinghe
• Mr. Shantha Kumar de Silva (still on the staff)
• Ms Gillan de Silva (still on the staff)
• Ms. Thilina Fernando (still on the staff)
• Ms. Prashanthi Rodrigo (still on the staff)
• Mrs. Ranjani Fernando
• Mr. E.L. Rodrigo
• Ms. Norma de Silva
• Mrs. L. Amaratunge
• Ms. Shirani Ratnayake
• Ms. Nirmali Samaranayake
• Ms. Nirmali Fernando
• Ms. C. Salgado
• Mr. Kodikara
Mr. Rodrigo, is probably one of the oldest living past teachers of Wesley now 87 yrs old. His eye sight is very poor
and moves about on a wheel chair. His memory of course is still very sharp and he did remember all of the
teachers once they introduced themselves to him.
Wesley Times November 2010 page 21/24
Mr. Rodrigo, Mr. Marshall Fernando, Mr. M.A.P. Fernando and Ms. Ranjani Fernando expressed many sentiments
about college and their association with Wesley. The occasion was graced by Dr. & Mrs. Shanti McLelland.
|Mrs Nimali Fernando||Mr Kalupahana||Mr N S W De Silva|
|Mr Welaratne||Mrs L Amaratunge||Mr E L Rodrigo|
Transcribed from the Richmond College website
Mr. Claude Ivor de Silva, BA (Ceylon), was born in 1923 and was the Vice Principal at Richmond from 1957. When his predecessor Mr. Wirasinghe left Richmond in 1961 to join Wesley he became the acting Principal.
Mr. de Silva an old boy of Richmond, graduate from the University of Ceylon. After leaving school, he took up to teaching, and for many years was the Secretary of the Christian Teachers' Guild. He was teaching at Wesley and in 1957 came to Richmond when Mr. A. S. Wirasinha succeeded Mr. E. R. de Silva as Principal. He specialised in Geography, was strong in English and fond of classical Western Music and a tenor. When Mr. Wirasinghe became Principal of Wesley in January, 1962, he acted as Principal till the end of the first term, and resigned as a teacher in 1965. Although the resignation as many think was on language grounds it was mainly due to a remark made by Mr. Welikala at a staff meeting. Mr. Welikala had no option but to follow the Government Educational policies at the time and the remark he made he regretted later in life. He then secured a teaching post in Massachusetts, U.S.A. and has been teaching there ever since.
Mr. Claude Ivor de Silva was appointed Vice-Principal in September 1957 and held the post until 1965.
Mr. Ivor as most called him is an old boy of Richmond having studied from Form I to London Matriculation class. During his student days he was a member of the Swimming Club which was affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society of England and has been awarded the Bronze and Silver Medals for life saving. He was also an active member of the 'Apollo Club' and took part in drama, choral singing. After joining Richmond staff he renewed his interest in the Apollo Club and was for many years the choir master. He was a fine singer and those of his pupils would recall his singing prowess.
He taught for two years after leaving Richmond in 1947 and then joined the University of Ceylon, Colombo and graduated with a BA degree. As a teacher, and for many years was the Secretary of the Christian Teachers' Guild. He was teaching at Wesley and in 1957 came to Richmond when Mr. A. S. Wirasinghe succeeded Mr. E. R. de Silva as Principal. He specialised in Geography, was strong in English and fond of classical Western Music. When Mr. Wirasinha became Principal of Wesley in January, 1962, he acted as Principal till the end of July 1962 , and retired as a teacher with effect from August 1962.
He then secured a teaching post in Massachusetts, U.S.A. and has been teaching there since.
Addendum by Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
Mr Ivor De Silva Joined Wesley in 1954 and left in 1957. He was the Senior Hostel Master for some of that time and enjoyed a particularly stable and fruitful period in his teaching career. I was a boarder then and appreciated his benign manner and kindness. He left the boarding to get married.
Mr Ivor De Silva had a fine singing voice and lead the singing in the hostel chapel and the school assembly. Soon after Mr Maxwell De Alwis left Mr Oorloff, the Principal, asked him to take charge of the school choir. He provided an excellent service to the choir and music of the school and encouraged students to delve deeper into the music he loved. Mr Ivor De Silva became its conductor and motivational director and brought about a huge expansion to the repertoire of the choir . He taught us to make music of thrilling and uncompromising beauty in four part harmony when the choir sang at school, at the Maradana Methodist Church or the the Nine Lessons and Carols during Christmas.
Mr Ivor De Silva was an inspirational teacher. He taught Geography and English to 6th formers and at GCE level. He was a fine teacher of the old tradition. He was soft spoken and treated the students with kindness and respect, a rarity in those days. He taught us swimming taking us to the Otters Pool every Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Ivor De Silva came from a strong Methodist background and I remember his sophisticated and conservative interpretations of the scriptural text. His religious faith was strong. He took an active part in the SCM and also in Drama at school.
From the Double Blue Magazine 1958
Mr. lvor de Silva has left us to become Vice-Principal of Richmond College, Galle. He served Moscrop House as the Senior House Master and was responsible for many of Moscrop's successes. He also did useful work in the Hostel, during a critical period and made many improvements. Mr. Ivor de Silva was a discoverer of talent. The present senior hostel master for instance was brought to the stage as "An Adana race-book seller". This was drama at its height! Mr. Ivor de Silva took a very great interest in the Music and Drama society. He helped in producing the operas "Aladd-in and out" and "Robin-Hood". The College choir owes much to him. for throughout his stay in the school he was the live wire of the choir. Mr. de Silva was also the master in-charge of the college swimming club. The high standard maintained in swimming and life-saving are solely due to his efforts. As senior Geography master in the Sixth and Fifth Forms, he instilled in students a love for the study of Geography. He maintained a very high standard in the teaching of Geography. Finally, the greatest contribution he made was to the spiritual life of the school. He was keenly interested in the activities of the S.C.M. and was able to witness effectively by leading a life of example. At the end of last year he led the Ceylonese delegation to the S.C.M, Triennial Conference held at Guntur, India. We wish him all success in his new walk of life.
1st Sept 2012
Henry Jayasena was a Producer, Actor and a Writer who was a prominent figure on stage and screen in Sri Lanka for half a century since the mid 1950's
Speaking of 'Kuveni' brings vivid memories to me of my wonderful friend, Felix Premawardhana, who passed away on 25th of last month. I seek the readers' permission to devote the rest of this column to the memory of that unmatchable human being.
I first met Felix 52 years ago, in 1954, when I was looking for a powerful actor to play the role of Sir Edwin Ranaspathy in my adaptation of Oscar Wilde's 'A Woman of no Importance' - 'Vedagathkama'. (Regular readers of this column might remember my writing about 'Vedagathkama', Felix and Ruby de Mel etc.) When I had tried a number of men for the role and failed and was in desperation, it was my good friend Ruby de Mel who introduced me to Felix.
I remember going to a small twin house somewhere in Nawala and I remember the two little children in their underpants who were playing in the small garden.When I offered my sympathies to Kuvera and Kuveni (son and daughter of Felix and Indrani) in the gathering dark at the Borella Kanatta last evening (I am writing this on the 27th of April) I remembered those two grimy little faces that I saw so many years ago, in their Nawala home.
The way Indrani and the two children bore their immense loss with stoic courage itself was a silent tribute to the man who mentored them and shaped their lives for over half a century. Indeed it was their courage that made it possible to bear my own grief without breaking down.Over the 52 years, Felix Premawardhana and my family became very close friends. Felix and I were 'teasing' friends who teased each other with all kinds of memorabilia. Indrani and Manel became very close friends too. We saw their two children grow up into adulthood.
In fact the Premawardhana family and their friends had prayed for me night after night when I was very ill a few years ago and they had done the same when Manel was very ill just two years ago.I am very proud that I introduced Felix Premawardhana to the Sinhala stage 52 years ago. He was much more a God's man than a 'Theatre man' all his life. If God had created an ideal human being - loving, caring, generous, honest, patient and mindful - that man was Felix Premawardhana.
He travelled almost all over the globe on all kinds of missions of mercy. In fact, I had made up a standard greeting for him, every time I met him. - "Hi Felix, when did you get back?"Felix later appeared in three of my stage productions - Kuveni, Manaranjana and Hunuwataye Katawa. I will always remember him as the bewildered 'Hunter' in Kuveni who befriends Kuveni's two children lost in the jungle and who tries to console them in their loneliness, with kindness and patience.He was a massive 'Irakli' (the good natured bandit) in Hunuwataye Katawa, but only for a short time.
God and his Church were his first preferences. In that great service he had to miss out on our mundane rehearsals etc. and turn down many offers to act. Nevertheless, Felix contributed largely to our theatre too.If I remember right his first production on the Sinhala stage was 'Minis Gathiya' an adaptation of Noah. This he followed up with 'Deva Warama' (Man for all Seasons) which was a highly praised production.
He introduced J.B. Priestly to the local theatre when he presented an adaptation of 'An Inspector Calls' by the title 'Chaaya'. 'Andhakaaraya' was the Sinhala version of the famous Broadway play 'Wait until Dark' which was also a very powerful production.Felix also brought out Sinhala versions of The Black Comedy and Distant Drums as a doublebill titled Kaluware Jaramare and Maara Bere.
Felix won many awards too including Best Actor for his performance in Premaranjith Tillkeratne's 'Ammai Appai'.Felix Premawardhana, the irrepressible human being and God's good man won many friends and his friends kept him and he kept his friends too. His soft ways and his innate kindness belied his Herculean stature, his walrus moustache and his penetrating eyes.
I am going to miss his teasing, his infectious laughter and above all his constant concern.Many many men, women, and children are going to miss my good friend - God's child, Felix Premawardhana.
In God's good hands
My good friend
And may you still
Extend your healing touch
To us, lesser beings
14th September 2012
From the Wesley College Archives
Mrs. S. E. G. Perera joined the tutorial Wesley College on 11th January 1944 when Rev. William Holden was the principal of Wesley College. She is a brilliant product of Mrs. Joyce Leembruggen who ably guided her to excel in teaching of Kindergarten children. Mrs. SEG is one who knows her work well with a reservoir of experience, to guide the minds.
She now is the Supervisor of the infant of the school. Her proud record of is clear proof that experience is her qualification.
More than the bigger boys the little ones need individual attention and this is where Mrs Perera is at her best, playing the multiple of teacher, friend, guide and mother. Whenever there is a school function she carries out her duties and responsibilities so well, that everything works without any confusion whatsoever.
Many teachers over the years have personally benefitted from her rich experience and unassuming ways. I personally count the days in 1950 when as a Colleagues she helped me in my Sinhala and my success in the exam was entirely due to her efforts.
25 long years Mrs. Perera has illuminated the lives of thousands of Wesley boys and continues to do so today with the same enthusiasm and dedication to duty. It is our sincere hope that she will go from strength to strength, in the years to come as teacher and guide, to all at Wesley.
Organized a felicitation luncheon on the 7th of August 2010 for all the teachers who taught them from Grade 1
Those who attended were:
• Mr. Gamini Samarakoon
• Mr. Marshal Fernando
• Mr. Sunil Dias
• Mr. Boteju (still on the staff)
• Mr. Sunil Samarasinghe (still on the staff)
• Mr. Palitha Fernando (still on the staff)
• Mr. M.A.P. Fernando
• Mr. Samaranayake
• Mr. Nimal de Silva
• Mr. Ravi Mayan
• Mr. Kalupahana
• Mr. Welaratne
• Mr. Gaya Wickramasinghe
• Mr. Shantha Kumar de Silva (still on the staff)
• Ms Gillan de Silva (still on the staff)
• Ms. Thilina Fernando (still on the staff)
• Ms. Prashanthi Rodrigo (still on the staff)
• Mrs. Ranjani Fernando
• Mr. E.L. Rodrigo
• Ms. Norma de Silva
• Mrs. L. Amaratunge
• Ms. Shirani Ratnayake
• Ms. Nirmali Samaranayake
• Ms. Nirmali Fernando
• Ms. C. Salgado
• Mr. Kodikara
Mr. Rodrigo, is probably one of the oldest living past teachers of Wesley....now 87 yrs old. His eye sight is very poor and moves about on a wheel chair. His memory of course is still very sharp....he did remember all of the teachers once they introduced themselves to him.
All of the teachers, we presume, had a great afternoon. Mr. Rodrigo, Mr. Marshall Fernando, Mr. M.A.P. Fernando and Ms. Ranjani Fernando expressed many sentiments about college and their association with Wesley.
The occasion was graced by Dr. & Mrs. Shanti McLelland.
Mr Evan Jayasekera was a dark skinned, tall well built teacher. He taught us English in the Primary school in 1953. The 4th and 5th Std class rooms of the primary block were closed for refurbishment and we were moved to the Vice Principal's bungalow. Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle was the VP who was then away on a sabbatical to the USA. Mr Jayasekera was a good and able 'no nonsense' teacher. 'Rioters' in the class often got a dusty reception. While his temper was short, his standards were immensely high. Because he was normally so composed and refined, his tantrums were like a volcano erupting out of nowhere. It would take a lot to make him lose that calm. Although he had a gruff voice he showed immense kindness too.
He taught us well and introduced us to the elegance of English poetry. It was all hugely entertaining and made for some very lively and stimulating lessons. Mr Jayasekera was a natural teacher – glowing with interest in his subject, highly articulate, and sensitive to the student’s needs and talents. I still remember a poem of Sir Walter Scott about Lochinvar.
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in Love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
I vividly recall he was in charge of the Primary school interhouse cricket matches. He organised them enthusiastically and umpired many of the games. His exuberant and generous support of young cricketers was exceptional. Outside the class room he was a jolly person full of good humour. He had the patience to give everyone a chance to take part, bat and bowl.
Being a gentleman he was endowed with great charisma and appreciated the good things in life. He was a fine pianist and accompanied the singing at school assembly.
Mr Jayasekera had a strong faith and was a regular at prayers in the Great Hall. He was old-fashioned in the best kind of ways and retained a stiff upper lip and immaculate manners. Mr Jayasekera was always well dressed and seen in his cream coloured tussore suit, trilby hat and tie. He came from the generation when teachers were expected to look like gentlemen, wearing smart suits, never going without a tie and having their hair neatly cut and parted.
Although he remained at Wesley for no more than 2 years Mr Jayasekera left a lasting imprint on the memories of his students. The school environment is never short of malicious gossip and innuendo. It seems Mr Jayasekera left under a cloud apparently after a disagreement with the school management. As a pupil I appreciate his dedication to duty and his efforts to teach us English and maintain discipline. His charm and humour will always be remembered. Mr Evan and his wife Mrs Ariel Jayasekera did not have any children. After he left Wesley I never saw him again.
GRANT HIM O LORD
Memories of Mr V.R Roberts by Russell Firth
|Russell at Wesley||Russell 2015|
Mr V R Roberts taught me Maths and Physics in the 5th Form. My father was very disappointed with my performance,and visited Mr Roberts, who offered to teach me at his Home. He had a room for study lined from floor to ceiling with books!!
He taught me, apart from the subjects mentioned, Latin, English Lit, Chemistry and Advanced Maths. Needless to say I passed with flying colours!!. He was truly a Polymath!! And knew everything. By nature, he was a gentle teacher, completely absorbed in his subject.
He never lost his composure. Always dressed in a Starched Cream Coat and Trousers. Every few years when I visited Home,I use to take him a gift from UK. He was very interested in my Career and progress.
One year on my visit, I was told that his House was set alight during the riots, and all within had perished. I shed tears at the sheer waste of a life of this great teacher!!
Mr V R Roberts by Nihal D Amerasekera
Mr Roberts was a likeable, deeply religious man, with a good intellect. In the course of his duties he made a substantial contribution to the life of the school. He always wore a cream tussore suit with tie. He never taught me but Mr Roberts was a teacher during my years at Wesley. He was a quiet dedicated teacher of the old school with the students’ welfare at heart.
He came to school in his rickety old cycle with cycle clips on his trousers. The cycle was his pride and joy and he parked it with great care in the cycle shed. Two pranksters, once deflated both tyres in his bicycle and they watched his reaction from the hostel dormitory upstairs. Mr Roberts accepted his misfortune philosophically and the pranksters later regretted their actions.
Mr Roberts was a kind and generous man and was greatly respected as a teacher. I feel deeply ashamed at the way he was treated in his sunset years. He was caught up in the needless and shameless acts of violence during the infamous ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. No one deserves to die the way he did and I hope the perpetrators were punished with the full force of the law.
Mr V R Roberts - A Teaching Legend at Wesley College from Keith De Kretser
Memories are still fresh in my mind of VR Roberts. A silver haired gentlemen with a slight stoop reflecting his age who always wore a cream tussore suit which earned him the nick name “parana coat” which means old coat. He was one of the great teachers in the Science stream (English) for many years at Wesley and many alumni who chose the disciplines of Engineering, Science or Medicine owe their success at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level(O/L) and Advanced level (A/L) to him. He also conducted Maths and Physics tuition from his home and there are many more success stories of students from other schools who had the privilege of improving their Maths under his tutelage.
I was always amazed that a teacher with his highest qualification being the London JSC could command such respect and deliver the subject with such conviction and confidence. As one progressed up the grades to form 8, you knew that if you elected to pursue a course in science you would encounter this teacher in form 9. He was a man of many faces and would either have a sheepish sneer when he was trying to trick you or would easily clip in to a more serious pose with his piercing eyes focussed on you.
I remember my early encounters with Mr Robert’s in form 9. I would bring to class my Durrell’s Geometry, Hall’s Algebra and another local publication on Arithmetic as I had elected to do Biology and Pure Mathematics was a mandatory subject. I also had him for Physics. Those who elected to pursue Engineering also undertook Applied Mathematics which meant a triple dose of Mr Roberts as they studied the world of Kinetics and Dynamics. I found his Maths class entertaining but serious. He was very cognisant that the teenage boys were going through hormonal changes and girls were on the agenda. Also we were at an age where we were allowed to wear long trousers to school. He brought a sense of theatre when he had a geometry class or physics class.
When teaching us a theorem he would draw on the black board and name the various points with the letters V, R and S and follow it with the statement that those letters were sacrosanct. When he had to draw an arc or a circle, he would whip out his hankie, grab them at each and twist the hankie around till it was taut. He would then wrap one end around the chalk and fix the other end steady on the black board and draw the arc or a circle. He would love to tease the boys when he picked up someone’s text book and the student not expecting this would let him have the book. Sometimes the text book would be the repository for a love letter from a girl. Mr Robert’s face would quickly get that sheepish sneer as he would divulge the contents of the letter and ask the student some embarrassing questions. We enjoyed the fun bursting in to laughter as Mr Roberts teased him. He also discovered one day a note between two students in our class who referred to him as “parana coat”. For the rest of their days at Wesley he would insult them in every class they attended and any chance of a Prefectship was dead and buried. Something that would not be tolerated today.
There was another student (a burgher boy) with youthful features and no facial hair who hadn’t the luxury of long trousers at the time. He was about 5’9” in height and still wore blue shorts which were barely a span thus exposing his slender hairless legs with a prominent bulge in the front accommodating the crown jewels. This was Mr Robert’s favourite target for asking questions. He would then proceed to embarrass the poor bloke. As soon as Mr Roberts asked him a question, the poor fellow would stand up, delicately adjust the crown jewels for comfort and face Mr Roberts. Mr Roberts would stride forward and gently stroke his face and say “My XXXX what a smooth face you have”. The student would barely splutter a reply in faint high pitched tones that would result in Mr Roberts touching his Adam’s apple and then commenting on his maturity, short shorts and smooth legs whilst the student’s face would turn red with a furrowed brow. This was a regular scenario each day which kept the rest of the class amused and giggling.
Mr Roberts firmly believed that his method of proving a theorem was the only correct solution and no one deserved 100 per cent for an exam paper. However much to his chagrin he was proved wrong by some of the brighter sparks at the time with reduced steps in the process. He would reluctantly concede. He had a big influence with Mrs Sivasubramaniam in determining which successful students at the GCE O/L’s would be awarded a Sub-Prefectship. If you were not one of his favourites with the academic results to match you had no hope. Mr Roberts was the House Master for Passmore House and this was worth a few points when deciding who would get a Sub- Prefectship.
In the late sixties his health was affected and he had his first heart attack of many which kept him away from teaching for few months. When I left for Australia in 1970 he would communicate with me regularly giving me updates on my peers and their progress through school. He would also check how I was faring in my studies in a new environment. He communicated with a number of the burgher students who migrated to Australia. I received a letter one day telling me that one of the students who he picked on for the note referring to him as “parana coat” was also migrating to Melbourne. He recommended that my family and I should leave Melbourne with haste. Whether it was said in jest I would not know. A few years later I received the sad news that he had passed away.
He was still tutoring till his health faded. Mr V R Roberts in my humble opinion was one of the teaching legends at Wesley. He may not have had the endearing qualities of a David Joseph, Haig Karunaratne or David Ondaatje, but his influence on the lives of many students makes him a legend.
Whether good or bad, that's true
But it's with the fondest of affection
That Wesleyites will remember you.”
With apologies to Jon Bratton © 2004
GRANT HIM O LORD
We are sorry we cannot name all the teachers. If you can identify them please email the editor of the Double Blue International. The email address is in the Home Page. Thank you.
SECOND ROW (L-R):
Kindly sent to me by Murad Fahmy
Farewell to Miss Iris Blacker - 1963
Some Teachers and students during the Principalship of Rev John Dalby
Some Teachers during the Principalship of Mr. M.A.P Fernando
Today College bid farewell to a valuable and an outstanding teacher & Co – Vice Principal - Mr Palitha Fernando, as he retires from his 35 years of service at Wesley College. He has served Wesley College with dignity, honour and utmost commitment throughout the tenure of his service and has been a hard working teacher with great patience. The Wesley fraternity is grateful to him for imparting knowledge and skills onto all his students in an appropriate manner and for his tireless efforts and cooperation rendered to the Management of the College. We wish him all the very best and may his retirement be the most fulfilling one.
Kindly sent to me by Dr Shanti McLelland
Mrs V.S Fernando taught at Wesley from 1970 to 1987 during Mr Shelton Wirasinha's time. She rejoined Wesley in 2011 at the invitation of Dr Shanti McLelland when he started the London A Level programme at Wesley and continued till 2019. It was an enormously rewarding and outstanding service which had a high rate of success with many qualifying and going abroad to do their degrees in Commerce and Science. There were about 20 students at a time.
A celebration of the Mrs Fernando's contribution is not complete without the presence of the spectrum of students who had passed through her days in the school. Hence, a Zoom was arranged. there were those who had not met one another for years or even decades, resulting in heartfelt emotional outpourings as they struggled to catch up on lost time. It was indeed an honour and a privilege to be among her students. Her 90th birthday was certainly an event to cherish.
On behalf of the Worldwide Brotherhood of Wesleyites we thank Mrs. V. S Fernando for her dedication to Wesley College and her commitment to her students. We wish her many more years of happiness and good health