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Wesley College Colombo - Sri Lanka

The Principals

The Principal's Bungalow


Highfield of Wesley - By Prof J. L. C. Rodrigo

From the 125th Anniversary souvenir

One of the greatest of the many Principals, men as well as women in whom our Methodist School's glory was the Revd Henry Highfield. His birth centenary, as a grateful Custom ordains, is now been observed by" the boys of Wesley through the land", and their families join with them in recalling and extolling the memory of a devoted teacher, a friend of our people and a Man of God. His was a long crowded and selfless life. The first thirty years were spent at Kingswood, Bath. where he was a contemporary of the equally famous Darrell, also destined for Ceylon, and at London and Cambridge Universities. There he distinguished himself in Classics and English, did examining work for London and discovered his mission as a teacher.

At the age of thirty he came to Ceylon and Wesley, which he made his home for the next thirty years: in 1925 at the age of sixty he decided the time had come for him to retire. Back to England There was some talk of his being appointed Minister in charge al Kollupitiya, but Kollupitiya is too near Karlsruhe Gardens, and ex-Principals, once they retire, are wise to make the severance complete. He, therefore. got back to England. Here he continued his service as a diligent Pastor, caring for his people and, with his faithful bicycle to carry him to his work as in Ceylon. That bicycle had made history. It transformed Wesley, metaphorically, from brick to marble, from dust and dilapidation of Dam Street to airy and solid buildings in Karlsrhue Gardens. It was an exhausting form of transport but economical, and it enabled him to go round the country raising funds for new buildings.

The Methodist Mission, generous as ever, had promised Rs 5 for every rupee aised locally and thus contributed the major part of the cost, 2 1/2 lakhs for the Rs 38.000 he raised. He adopted a technique which proved fruitful. If a man wrote down Rs 50 on the paper "to pay later" he would ask" and how much can you give me now?" lie might answer "Rs.10". Highfield would then say "Thanks, I'll take that" and thus, instead of the paper promises, in which we are very lavish, he got spot cash and a lot of it. New building One November day in 1905 the foundation stone was laid and the new building opened in 1907.

Photo of Rev Henry Highfield taken by Mr KM De Lanerolle in 1952 in England

I remember that ceremony, being taken there by my father. And the crowd of notabilities who were present. Among them was a galaxy of local ministers, the Ferdinandos, the de Silva's the Nonis's and the Wickremeratnes, the de Silvas (then as now prominent in the church) the Gogerlys, Pereras, and the Nathaniels, who rejoiced in the more stately mansions. now opening for their children and people. It is men, however, more than buildings that make a College. Mr. Highfield gathered round him capable teachers, men of personality, prominent among them C.P. Dias, City Father and Lay Reader at Holy Trinity and the spruce. W. E. Mack, whose invaluable assistance he greatly appreciated. But he himself was the greatest among them. He loved teaching and his happiest hours were those he spent with his sixth form, teaching Latin or English (to a select few) Greek which he preferred to

Prof J.L.C Rodrigo - Former Head Master at Wesley College

Photo: Prof. J.L.C.Rodrigo

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.

Three hundred days of begging in the tropics by Rev. Highfield M.A.

Courtesy of The Methodist Synod and transcribed from the 125th Anniversary Souvenir

A Wesleyan minister has to be a man of all work, and begging is a recognised branch of that work; but it is seldom that I he has so completely to subordinate his other duties to that of money getting as was the writer's task in the year just gone by. Wesley College, Colombo, after thirty years of usefulness, amid many drawbacks, was recognised by all to be in danger of falling into the rear and dying for want of adequate buildings. A scheme was set on foot for giving the College a new and healthier and more useful position and better premises.

This was one of the many snowballs set a-rolling by the great Twentieth Century Fund. The condition of our getting sufficient help from the Home Committee was that we here in Ceylon (a little island no bigger than Ireland, and with less than four millions of people, seven eights of them non-Christian) should find for this one object, by gifts the large sum of $2,500 (in our money Rs. 37.500/-). The writer, as Principal of the College, was at the beginning of the year set apart by his brethren to attempt this formidable task of money-raising.

The money had to be got very largely from non- Christians who were however appreciative of our higher educational work, and the benefits it offers; never are allowed to forget the fact that this is a means to an end - a very real weapon of Christian propagandism - and so look upon it somewhat suspiciously as the jam which conceals the distasteful pill. One Parsee gentleman intimated that his community would have readily found me Rs. 5,000/-, if only I would admit a conscience clause and allow their boys to study something else during the time of Scripture lesson. Of course his offer was unhesitatingly rejected; and the result is that, at present, the only Parsee gift is one of Rs. 100/- from a doctor who was educated in the College some years ago.

The following brief summary of journeying will further prove that the accomplishment of the task was not without the anticipated measure of toil and travel. The plan of complaint was simplicity itself. The country was not flooded with begging letters, to be thrown aside unheeded into thousands of wastepaper baskets, nor was energy spent in organising bazaars or entertainments; but the whole time was given up to personal visitation and direct face-to-face requests for help. In the first eight months the writer journeyed to and fro, and practically visited all Ceylon.

Three thousand miles were traversed by rail, by coach (horse and bullock), or by boat (on canals or round the coast); and in the three hundred days during which the active journeying were kept up, six thousand miles were covered with the help of the bicycle. Very much of the travelling and working had to be done in the midday hours, when the tropical sun has indeed tremendous power. Other perils too - perils of journeying along mountainous roads; perils from robbers; perils from fever, contracted at one time from heat, and at others from chilling rains - all these were graciously reduced to their minimum, and God day by day proved our Guide and our Strength. And now, as the year's toil is over, we are able to rejoice over such a measure of success as assures us that the full amount of our aim will be safely gathered in long before the new buildings are finished, and we even dare to hope that it may all be in hand before a stone is laid! At the close of 1904 $2,000 sterling was actually paid in, and the balance required $300, was fully assured in promises.

This large amount of money has been gathered from all classes of the population. By far the largest share has been contributed, as was only right, by the Ceylonese themselves, but European merchants and tea planters have also given most generously. "Old Boys" of the College and parents of present boys have, of course, contributed more liberally then others, but no petty jealousies of college against college has prevented many who were educated in rival institutions from giving us their help and encouragement. Amongst the largest gifts from Ceylonese, I think I value most that of the Mohammedan "Old Boy" who once said to me, "Sir, you must keep our boys longer in your school. They learn now to read and write and do sums, and then come into our shops; but that is not enough. When we die we cannot take our shops or houses with us - only what is in our minds. Therefore you must keep them longer that they may learn more." This gentleman gave me Rs. 250/- in February; and when I ventured to ask him again, late in September, to help me to make up Rs. 30.000/-, he against gave me Rs. 250/-. Courtesy: Methodist Synod

P.Harold Nonis - Remembered by Edmund Dissanayake.

Harold Nonis began his association with Wesley as a student in 1918. He rejoined the staff of Wesley as a teacher in 1924. He was a graduate of the London University. In 1930 he was appointed as Vice Principal and was the first Ceylonese to hold this position. From 1938 to 1940 he was acting Principal. He was a first ever Old Boy to be appointed Principal. In 1942 Kingswood College needed a Principal and Harold Nonis was the obvious choice. He returned to Wesley as Principal and his last years of service was at Wesley from 1957 to 1961.

During his tenure he was able to publish the school magazine without a break, and also for the first time involved the students in its publication. Previously the publication of the magazine was entirely handled by the staff. It was in 1961, that the Methodist Synod decided to run Wesley as a Private non-fee Levying School. From the point of view of Finances the early years were difficult ones but due to the dedication of several concerned persons the school was able to withstand the stresses and strains, and survived this period. As a student Harold Nonis had the distinction of winning the highest award, the Hill Medal both in 1920 and 1921. He captained the Cricket Team in 1921, and he will be remembered for his glorious century against St.Joseph's.

Photo: Principal's Bungalow


In the Centenary Year 1974, he was the obvious choice to lead the "Captains Team" against the "Rest" skippered by the 'mercurial' M. Sathasivarn. In 1934 the Principal Rev.Dalby stated in his Annual Report, "Mr. Nonis fills the Post of Vice- Principal with vigour and ability. His wisdom and energy are a great source of help to me and contribute much to the smooth working and increasing efficiency of the School One of the outstanding achievements of Harold Nonis was the securing of the present Pavilion at Campbell Park, which he purchased from the Tamil Union for a sum of Rs. 10,000.

This was a colossal sum of money 59 years ago, but because of Harold Nonis' untiring efforts, with the active support of the staff, spear headed by Miss. Iris Blacker, who organised the sale of ice-cream and short eats, it was possible to raise this sum of money. Today the OWSC has a new Pavilion named the "Wesley College- M. H. Mohamed Pavilion" In this connection, it should be mentioned that M.H.Mohammed played an invaluable role in securing Campbell Park for the exclusive use of Wesley College as its sports grounds Harold Nonis passed away in 1980 and his remains were taken to the College Hall so that Wesleyites past and present could pay their respects to a past Principal. He played a straight bat both literally and metaphorically.

Our New Principal - P.H.Nonis

A Tribute by the Prefects Guild of 1957/58

Transcribed from the School Magazine 1958

a4The story of our present Principal. Mr. P. H. Nonis is partly the story of the school. He was associated with Wesley for a long period. both as a student as well as a member of the staff. To welcome him into our midst is to welcome one of Wesley's own sons.

Mr. Nonis received his early education at Richmond College, Galle, during the time that the Rev. W. J. T. Small was its Principal. He was one of the best pupils of Rev. Small and passed brilliantly in the Cambridge local Examinations. Joining Wesley as a student in 1918 during the Highfield era he had the unique distinction of winning the coveted Hill medal and captaining the cricket team in 1921.

A century against the formidable Josephians that year was a fitting culmination to his cricket career. Whilst cricket was his first love, few could have beaten him at tennis, of which he was no mean exponent. He passed the London Inter Arts Examination in 1921 emphasizing his brilliance in academic endeavours. He. offered Mathematics, Greek and Latin as his subjects. His powers' of leadership and integrity of moral character were recognised by the school by his elevation to the post of Senior Prefect in the same year.

Caricature of Mr PH Nonis drawn by M.B Wickramasinghe of 6th Form (Sc)


Mr. Nonis successfully completed his education by obtaining the B.A. (London) degree. He started his teaching career at Richmond, but returned to Wesley in 1924. He was appointed Vice-Principal in 1930 and held this post with great acceptance for a period of eight years. He was the first Ceylonese to hold this distinguished post. In 1934 Mr John Dalby, the Principal, in making a review of the history of the college stated, "The most important change has been the appointment of Mr. P. H. Nonis, himself an old boy of the college. to the post of Vice-Principal, a post which he fills with vigour and ability.

His wisdom and energy are a great source of help to me and contribute much to the smooth working and increasing efficiency of the school." Mr. Nonis was Acting-Principal of the school from March 1938 to March 1940, when Mr. Dalby left for England. One of the most important acts of Mr. Nonis during this period was the purchase of the present Cricket Pavilion in Campbell Park. A sum of Rs. 10,000 which was needed for this purpose, was raised in various ways by the untiring efforts of Mr. Nonis. It was also in: 1940 that students were first given the responsibility for the publication of the College magazine. It was also at this time that the Junior Camp was started. These camps organised by the members. of the staff and held annually within the vicinity of Colombo, gave the younger boys a pleasant holiday.

In 1940 the Rev. John Dalby returned to Wesley, but remained only a short time. In his report at the Prize-Giving in 1940 he paid a compliment to Mr. Nonis, who had once again assumed duties as Vice-Principal. He said, "I feel that my review of the past year's work must begin with a warm tribute to the Vice­ Principal, Mr. Nonis, who acted as Principal for more than two years. There are peculiar difficulties attaching to any acting appointments, and schools are no exception. In spite of this Mr. Nonis acquitted himself well. The condition of the school today bears witness to his able oversight over curriculum, finance and discipline. Numbers have increased and have been maintained."

The Prefects in their report of 1941-1942 stated "In Mr. Nonis we are fortunate to have an ideal Vice-Principal. His popularity reaches all those who would better understand him. One could never fail to miss his sense of justice; we can all depend on him. He is part and parcel of Wesley".

Photo: Principal's Bungalow


In 1942 Mr. Nonis was appointed Principal of Kingswood at a time of national emergency, and was faced with a school and Hostel badly depleted in numbers, due to the war. The eminence reached by Trinity was due to Fraser, and institutions such as Kingswood, it was said, could never aspire to that distinction without people of such calibre. But Kingswood would always remain a debtor to Mr. Nonis. who guided the destinies of this school creditably. Higher education In Kingswood really started during Mr. Nonis' time.

Wesley welcomed Mr. Nonis as her Principal in May 1957. Within the brief period since he arrived at Karlsruhe Gardens, he has worked indefatigably to collect money towards the Highfield Memorial Fund. Whilst being a strict disciplinarian, he has always attempted to understand the frailties of youth and thus has tempered his judgment with sympathy and tolerance. In spite of his many duties he has always been accessible to staff and boys alike. One could discuss any matter affecting the discipline of the school or the personal life of any of its students, without being embarassed or reprimanded.

The task that Mr. Nonis faces today as Principal of Wesley is a difficult one. It is primarily the preservation of the Christian ideals in education that now face extinction, at the hands of extremist forces running riot in the island today. Another parallel task is the preservation of the standards in education, which are gradually deteriorating today. There is also a new challenge-a national cause-to which Wesley has not been slow in responding, namely the introduction of Swabasha as the medium of instruction, and its consequent changes in the structure of school life.

At this juncture we realise that any false standards that have been handed down to us. must be changed and worthy ones must take their place. We sincerely hope that Mr. Nonis with the wholehearted co-operation of his staff would be able to perform this difficult task with distinction.

Being the son of a Methodist minister, Mr. Nonis has served the Church zealously and with conviction as a Local Preacher. Nevertheless it is in the field of education that Mr. Nonis has been recognised both by the Church as well as by all the educationalists in the country. He is equally efficient in the languages or in the knotty problems of Mathematics-so much so that his students at Wesley,

Gaze, and still the wonder grows.
That one small head could carry all he knows".

Mr. and Mrs. Nonis are no strangers to Wesley, and any words of welcome by us, the present boys, may appear out of place. We however extend to them a very warm welcome and wish them long years of useful service. We are confident that Wesley will grow from strength to strength under Mr. Nonis. We are thankful to the Methodist Church for sending Mr. Nonis back to us. It is but right that his last years of service should be given to his old school. May his services be blessed and fruitful. With him as our Head we will take courage. giving our best to our school and our country.


On Wesley's James Cartman by Shelton Peiris

After many years of prayer and labour, death gently touched his brow to sleep On the 2nd of March 1998, Wesley completed 124 years of vibrant existence, and in this context, it was sad to record the passing away, of the Rev James Cartman, on the 28th of January 1998.James Cartman CBE BA BD MA Mth, was born on the 5th of August 1910; the only child of Fred and Anne Cartman, in Ashton - Under Lyme - Lancashire. In his childhood he attended the Church of England School in Aston.The family later moved to Hyde - Cheshire, where his father was the organist, at the local Methodist Church.

Photo: Mrs Winfred and Rev James Cartman

Young James became a Methodist. He was a very accomplished youth leader and contributed much to the development of youth. After leaving school he was attached to a firm, as a Trainee Manager. It was at this firm too the Winifred Berth Holland worked. Some year later, this friendship was destined to end in marriage. James Cartman was a sportsman and played cricket for the local club and displayed much prowess in the game, but however, this potential was not fully developed as he, at the age of 20, decided to be ordained in the Ministry of the Church.

Photo: Rev James Cartman


He entered training at Victoria Park Theological College in Manchester. At the same time he enrolled at the Manchester University and obtained a BA degree. At the closing months at the Theological college there was an appeal for ordained men to go and work overseas as Missionaries. In 1937 he was a fully ordained Minister and James and Winifred were married in August of that year. The Rev. James Cartman made a specific appeal and request to serve as Missionary in Ceylon as Educational Missionary. In the same year he followed a post graduate training course in education at Selly Oak College and in August 1938 months he was appointed Principal to the Batticaloa Central College. Their only child Christine Jennifer (now Mrs. Weaver) was born in Ceylon. The Rev. James Cartman was appointed General Manager of the Methodist Schools in Batticaloa, and was also a Consultant to the Education Office at Batticaloa.

He was also Deputy Civil Defence Commissioner for Batticaloa and in those war years working relentlessly, helping the Common Wealth survivors of the vessels sunk by the Japanese off the East Coast of Ceylon. In recognition of his devotion and loyalty he was awarded the Defence Medal. Returning to London on furlough, he worked tirelessly among the evacuees from the Cities. The Rev James Cartman found time to study for the Bachelor of Divinity exam of the University of London and was one of five, to obtain the first class honours. James Cartman however, could at the civil Defence Desks. Cartman was faced with a near impossible task of getting back Wesley's buildings at Karlsrhue and the playing fields which also had been acquired by the Military where buildings had been erected.

Photo: Shelton Peiris

It was the Rev. Cartman's persistent pleas, his personality and integrity, blended with tact, that moved the South East Asian command under Admiral Mountbatten, to release the Karlsrhue building and the playing fields. On receiving these back, there was the gigantic task of fitting and refurbishing the buildings yet reeking with the stench of death. Rev. James Cartman strove with fervour to carry out repairs and demolishing structures put up within the building. The entire place had once more to be made suitable for a school community. It certainly was gruelling- work. Cartman had a trusted group of Senior students who worked with pride to restore the school. It was on December 3rd 1945. with much of the work completed Cartman led from Kittiyakara a procession of students and teachers and other staff with the College flag held high, and Wesley was re-occupied with joy and pride with the Rev. Basil Jackson conducting a short service of thanksgiving. Like Highfield of Wesley, Wesley's Cartman, had to find accommodation to house the growing numbers.

This Cartman did subsequently. The Rev. Cartman worked feverishly to restore Wesley's credibility and stability. He prepared students in spite of the lack of teaching material, may of whom gained admission to the University. He always recognized the vital contribution sports played in making "the whole man". Students excelled in sports and displayed brilliance in the classroom - certainly there was excellence both in 'mart and hall' there was an excellent balance a restoration of value and acceptance of dignity, a recognition of each others religious convictions. A blending of traditions with new outlooks of a post war period that was at that time called as even now and no doubt will be projected to the future, as the 'Cartman Era". Cartman was also a builder. The new floor which now houses in part the Cartman Library and the Science Rooms.

He also compiled that monumental volume - the History of Wesley College, both of which stand out as outstanding events at Wesley's Diamond Jubilee in 1949. Cartman was undoubtedly the Apostle of Restoration. Striving for excellence in whatever he attempted.. The Rev. Cartman had an abundance of best and a wide field of interest - he was the first President of the public School's Cricket Association, he was member of the first Board of control for Cricket, an enthusiastic visitor appointed to the Remand prison at Welikada, for many years. He was also a member of the Western programme committee of Broadcasting and was a member of the Head Masters Conference, he was a keen cricketer. He was indeed a person blessed with many skills as this brief note strives to record. He was a keen student of Buddhism and Hinduism and published the book" Hinduism in Ceylon" which he dedicated 'to his students in Jaffna, Batticaloe and Colombo".

Both he and Mrs. Cartman were members of the Kollupitiya - Maradana Choral Society. On relinquishing his duties as Principal of Wesley in August 1949 he was invited by the then Prime Minister the Rt. Hon.D.S.Senanayake to work not resist for long the lure of Ceylon and returned in March 1945 to assume duties as Principal of the war ravaged Wesley College - housed at Kittiyakara, where students were also in Cadjan sheds with no proper equipment, and a woeful lack of the Senior Teachers, who were yet in Ceylon House as Educational Officer Ceylon High commission, London. His work was outstanding. He was awarded the OBE in June 1955. James Cartman was a unique person. When one assess the influence and the importance of James Cartman on his students his sincerity in his service oriented efforts, one stands astonished and even bewildered Nor are these the only standards by which one can judge James Cartman. We recall his numerous talents as Administrator, Guru, Counsellor, guide and friend.

As students, he was our hero, as colleagues he was our guide and friend. His qualities of head and heart endeared. He never flourished his authority in dealing with either the young or the old "Carty" as he was so affectionately known to us, built his team in trust setting the example of service himself. We appreciate at all times his scholarship and sportsmanship. It is worthy of record that when he was stationed in Oporto, Portugal there were heavy floods in Ceylon in 1957. He wrote to the news papers there and spoke about the earlier connections between Portugal and Ceylon and asked for their help for the flood victims here. A substantial amount was collected and he mentioned that "it was sent to Sir Oliver" Such was his love and affection for our Country. His strong qualities of Christian commitment underlines all his efforts. He had a deep love for Wesley. The Cartmans' moved to Crondall. His retirement saw his interest in other fields.

He was the elder Pastor, to many of the younger clergy, in Crondall, Ewershot and Oldham. Rev. Cartman was deeply involved with the International Church Society and also Chaplain for the Saga Holiday Tours, nor did he loose his interest in sports, playing and watching, Cricket and Tennis. He spent his last five years at Manormant in Hindhead, a Nursing Home for clergymen. After a private cremation at Aldershot crematorium, there was a well attended Memorial Service, which was conducted by Rev. Paul Rich, Vicar of Crondall and Eweshot. The Venerable Leonard Tyler, a family friend, gave the address which included Rev. Cartman's work as a Missionary Educationalist in Sri Lanka and his keen interest in sports which he maintained up to the time of his illness. Christine Weaver, Rev. Cartman's daughter and his grandson read the lessons. The hymn for Ceylon was also sung. The Old Boys of the U.K. Branch represented the other branches. The Rev. James Cartman at all time played a straight bat. During the long years of his incapacitation. Mrs. Cartman and Christine and other members gave him their attention, love and time. With wife, Winifred and daughter Christine and his loved ones, we share the pang of parting yet we are comforted by the Psalmist's declaration "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Godly ones".

Rev Cartman with College Prefects on his last visit in 1983

Kindly sent to me by Shelton Peiris' son Peter

Cedric Oorloff - The Man by Radley Claessen. JP. - (South Australia)

January 1953

Photo: Mr C.J Oorloff

2222When I left College to seek employment, I wrote to Mr. Oorloff and received a handwritten reply in which he said: " if all I have done is to teach you to take myself as a model, then my teaching has gone astray, the one job of a Christian schoolmaster is to lead men to our Lord, not to himself, and if you have not done so already, Radley, go the New Testament for your model....." That in a nutshell typifies the person he was. I still have that letter, which I shall always cherish. Cedric J. Oorloff was the first Ceylonese and the first layman to be appointed Principal of Wesley and the third longest serving such appointment in Wesley's history behind The Rev'd Henry Highfield (30 years) and Mr. Shelton Wirasinghe (21 years).

Photo of the author - Radley Claessen

He was a strict disciplinarian to the extent of being disliked or feared at times. He walked always head held high and with measured step; he spoke fluently with an Oxford drawl; he emitted an aura of sternness - sometimes terrifying; but beneath this disciplined and regimented Civil Service exterior was a caring an compassionate spirit - the real man, a man I had the good fortune to get to know and to whom I am honoured to pay this tribute, a task certainly would not have undertaken if I did not feel strongly enough. I was privileged, perhaps lucky, to have been a senior student during his initial years as Principal of Wesley and to be touched by his influence.

Mine are a pupil's views of one of my teachers who I admired and respected. I express them purely as I saw them and with the awareness that some, who perhaps knew him better may or may not agree. He was a gentle giant in many ways and a man with a mission - a mission which not only drew inspiration from the Christian faith but also inspired his peers and pupils with it. If I were asked to single out one person who had the biggest impact on my college career, I would have little hesitation, if any, in naming him as that person. Although this pupil teacher association existed for only for my last three years at Wesley.


He was a perfectionist in every way and always strove to instil in the hearts and minds of teachers and pupils that, as he once put it, "only perfection is adequate." He came to Wesley with high ideals of achievement in academic and sports. Whether or not he was able to take Wesley to the heights of those aspirations is for us to assess. But one thing is certain, if he did fail, it was definitely not due to lack of selfless commitment, for he gave up a lucrative and illustrious Civil Service and foreign Office career lo lead the College during some difficult years. Some may say that it was his period at Wesley and the experience he gained there that made him a good Principal, for it was at Trinity College, I have heard it said that he really shone.

Perhaps his years at Wesley constituted a learning process and I suspect that he came to realise that sports achievement, undoubtedly the product of strict discipline, good coaching and much effort, was as important as and sometimes of more promotional value to a .school than academic attainment. Be that as it may, it was at the commencement of his tenure of office as Principal (1950-1957) that Wesley began to emerge as a leader in a changing Government- initiated education strategy, which included the registration of the College as an Assisted School, the establishment of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction and the introduction of a public examination to qualify for promotion to the Senior Secondary School.

He was responsible for launching an Extension Fund to provide new buildings to accommodate swelling student numbers and was at the helm also during Wesley's ascendancy in the field of sports. Was it then a mere coincidence or the strange irony of fate that Wesley's prominence in Sri Lanka's education and sports landscape began in the early 1950's often referred as its 'Golden Years'? I doubt it! Many suspected that the way he spoke was 'put on'; sure it was - initially, I, too, entertained this suspicion until I plucked up enough courage one day to ask him if it were so. He confided that, like me. he too, was a stammerer and it was to overcome this impediment that he decided to cultivate an accent which was foreign to him so much so that because of its use through the years it became part and parcel of his normal speech. He encouraged me to try it and, with the cooperation of my classmates, it was not long after that I won Wesley's coveted "Donhorst Oratorical Prize and was runner-up in Radio Ceylon's public Schools' Elocution Contest. I do not think many knew this of the Late Mr. Oorloff. However, I believe he would not mind, if he were here today, to my sharing this with readers particularly if it were to help even a few affected with the same impediment.

Principal's Bungalow


He became an outstanding administrator but he was born to be an equally committed Christian teacher, who had a deep-rooted respect for the young and the family unit as the core of society. Despite the image he tried lo portray, he never lost the common touch. Those who though he was difficult to approach were completely wrong. Being frank and firm he espoused and expected the .same in others. He was indeed a product of his time, the values of which he vigorously upheld with a sincerity which only people of strong conviction can comprehend and admire.

The measure of the man is that he did not seek or take credit for any of Wesley's attainments. Neither did he try to carve for himself a place in its history. However, he worked as hard as his illustrious predecessors with humility, and the desire to advance - not outclass; to improve not out shine; to develop not outdo. He was always the First to acknowledge the assistance and guidance he received from his peers and this was clear in his first prize Giving Address when he paid high tribute to his immediate predecessor The Rev. James Cartman, his able lieutenant Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle upon whom the mantle of acting principal fell, retired Headmaster Mr. Eric Gunasekera, and many other members of the staff, and also Old Boys.

He stooped to 'touch' all of us who need his help and he knelt with us as we tried to reach our Creator. In his concluding remarks in his first prize Giving Address at Wesley, he used this quotation: "The hand of God it is that guides and it is the hand of God that can adapt to every kind of tool." May its message continue to guide past and present Wesleyites as well as the destiny of our Alma Mater in a changed and changing world, for as the British poet and clergyman Charles Kingsley once wrote ; 'From Thee all skill and science flow....." ORA ET LABORA


Mr.C.J.Oorloff Principal at Trinity College Kandy 1957-68

His appointment was a very wise decision, for the new Principal was a mature man with a very fine record as a high-ranking civil servant. He headed Wesley College, Colombo before he came to Trinity. In his day the country was perhaps going through its most difficult period, as anti-British policies were fashionable and national feelings were roused sometimes reaching hysterical proportions. Even the right to survive as an independent school was challenged, with many schools in the education system being taken over by the government, but Trinity College remained as it was. Mr. Oorloff's policy of quiet dignified management paid ample dividends. It was indeed a period of stabilization. He was able to accommodate changes taking place in the country whilst maintaining all that was best in the history of Trinity.

Mr. Oorloff retired after 12 years

From the Dutch Burgher Union

OORLOFF, Cedric James, born, December 5, 1906, Colombo, Ceylon, died 1986. Educated at Royal College, Colombo. Obtained B.A. (Hons) from London University, also an Honours Degree in Classics. In 1932 he entered the Ceylon Service and served as Magistrate and Assistant Government Agent.

In 1938, he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Lands. In 1939, Landing Surveyor, HM Customs. In 1942, Deputy Collector of Customs. In 1942, Assistant Government Agent, Hambantota. Whilst serving additional Land Commissioner in Colombo, he was selected as official Secretary to the newly appointed Ceylon High Commissioner to Australia. He was mainly responsible for setting up the Ceylon Embassy in Canberra. Returning to Ceylon in1949, he resigned from Government service to become the first Ceylonese Principal of Wesley College. In 1957 he was appointed Principal of Trinity College, Kandy (The Burghers of Ceylon Worldwide – Kelaart, 2007 & Bobby Caspersz)

Links to further reading

C J Oorloff – Some Recollections Of my Latin Master
By Maj (Retd) H.C Zavahir

18th December 2009

Photo: Mr C.J Oorloff

2222My nostalgic feelings  ran  high when I read the lengthy account of Mr C.J.Orloff  (CJO) by Nihal Amarasekera.   He was the College Principal  for  the  greater period   of  my time at  Wesley.

Mr Oorloff was my Latin Master  for three years.   When I was in Form 3,  I decided to do Latin as I wanted to take this subject for the SSC examination. I was a little worried  later  when I  realised that Mr Oorloff  will be the Latin Tutor.  However   I took it up as a challenge and plodded on with the difficult task of translations from Latin to English and vice versa with CJO’s  guidance.  I recall  when CJO would refer, with some humour, to non Latin students,  as Barbarians.  Latin students  felt  amused at  his comment  and lifted their shirt  collars up because we were not Barbarians.   CJO’s  knowledge of Latin was immense and thorough and he gave us a good grounding on this subject. I got a credit pass in my SSC examination in Latin. I recall the time we spent struggling  to translate the Latin version of the book Vergil  to English.   He would read the Latin sentences one by one from a particular paragraph and get the students to translate a sentence each.

I can now  recall  a  memorable story. Mid way through our Latin study  we found out that there was a book which had the English translation of Vergil.  We were excited. Many of us  went and purchased the Vergil  translation copy from the local book seller.  On account of  constant reference and reading the translation script, about 15 pages in total, I and the others were  able to memorise the whole book.  If I translated the first few sentences of the  Latin text Vergil to English in a particular paragraph then the rest of the  Latin to English translation was simple  as I knew the rest word to word by heart.

 At the first terms test I got full marks for this particular question for translation from  Latin to English from Vergil. However,  CJO suspected  our modus operandi.   At the next  term test, he asked us to translate another paragraph of Vergil, but he cunningly omitted many lines  mid way through the paragraph and inserted additional lines from another paragraph of Vergil.  At  the exam  when I read the first line of this particular question  and  remembered  the  English version, the rest of the translation came to my mind without any problem.  Unfortunately, my  English translation also  included the lines that were omitted. When I got the answer script back I found  some adverse comments in red ink  by CJO. And consequently I got very low marks for this question.  During the post examination discussion  CJO was annoyed and I, along with others, were  reprimanded.

Mrs Oorloff was my English literature teacher.  I hated this subject as it bored me. I used to keep away from her class many times and finally got caught to her.  She reported my absence (cut class)  to CJO who called me to his office and I had to pay the price?

I have received trophies several times  from  CJO  during the college assembly on Fridays.  Most of the trophies were for  my Boxing wins at the national meets..  I represented the college in many boxing meets conducted by the ABA of Ceylon and won several  times in the finals. On instruction from Mr Van Sanden, our boxing  master in charge,  I would hand over the boxing trophy to the college office to be presented  again on Friday at the  school assembly.

I recall with nostalgic feelings  the thunderous applause from the students at the  College assembly on Friday when I walked up to the stage to receive the trophy from CJO. Memories of CJO is difficult to forget and cannot be forgotten.


Links to further reading
Links to further reading

Cedric Oorloff and his stature By M.V. Muhsin

Photo: Mr C.J Oorloff

2222Forty nine years ago, Principal Cedric Oorloff took time while on a visit to Africa to write a four page letter to me. It arrived just as I was, as Senior Prefect, preparing for the Vote of Thanks and speech I would make on Prize Day. He commenced his letter with: “on Friday this week you will be making your first public appearance. I hope it will be a very successful one. I hope also that your period of office will not merely be effective but that it will set a standard.”  He went on to recount his experience in Africa, its beauty, its landscape, its people and its natural wonders. He mentioned the names of Old Trinitians he met who included Rugger Lion Kisosonkole (1920-1925), Clifford Little and Norman Campbell’s son. He ended his letter with the salutation: With Salaams, Yours very sincerely, Cedric Oorloff.”  Reading through it as I write, the Salaams salutation is not lost on me as it represents the inclusive thinking of Trinity.

When a Principal takes time to “connect” with his charges and pose challenges as he did in his letter, it creates a bond that is unbreakable and remains memorable. The letter is a Treasure!

CJO, as Cedric Oorloff was affectionately referred to, was a classics scholar, a respected Civil Servant and a former Principal of Wesley College. He was a Royalist by upbringing. In his spare time he would hike the mountains and soak in the beauty of the hills and valleys of Sri Lanka. When he would take a group of students and teachers with him on such expeditions, they would gasp for breath to keep up with him! This included ruggerites and athletes as well.  In every situation that he confronted CJO would see poetry in it. In the letter he wrote me he refers to and I quote:  “dreadfully monotonous country—flat, flat, flat as far as the eye can see with occasional clusters of tress. But there is one feature which atones for all this tedious sameness—and that is the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia. They are the sort of things that makes you want to burst into poetry. If you are not a poet all you can do is to get back the Psalms and say with the psalmist: “How wonderful are thy works, O Lord”!  This is how Cedric Oorloff felt of Trinity as well.One of his strengths as an effective Principal was that he was able to attract and work with excellent staff that he molded into an effective team, which complemented and reinforced each others talents.

This picture, taken at the Farm half a century ago attests to that. Jim Wirasinha (extreme left) was a outstanding boarding house master who in my time took charge of Alison House where he introduced the finer art of appreciating the nuances in the cadences of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart; of the subtleties of painting by Renoir or Leonardo Da Vinci or Pablo Picasso; Sam Elhart (second from left) was the best administrator Trinity has had in generations if not in its entire history.

Sam had an incisive mind perhaps from his mastery of Bridge and Poker; he was super efficient and had a firm grip of the running of the school, and working in the office next door to the Principal he was one of CJO’s trusted advisers. Every letter would be answered within a deadline of one day and school records, certificates and transcripts would be neatly filed and accessible in those days when computers did not exist; and he was obsessed with accountability and so he saw to it that all donations and scholarships were properly reported on. And then Bill Sinnathamby (third from left seated next to CJO)  would see life in a blade of grass, a smile on the face of a sunflower and sense a heady aroma exuded by ginger roots, he would delight in the intense color of a beet root that he would extract from terra firma with his bare hands.

Above all he was a proud agriculturalist. As he took us on field trips in the Farm he would speak so affectionately. For a moment we would think he was conversing with us as we trailed behind him, only to realize that he was in deep conversation with flora and fauna, with trees, chicken, goats and pigs as we passed them. No wonder that this Oxford educated Botanist and brilliant teacher was regarded as a lovable eccentric, only for us to realize later in life that he was God’s gift to Trinity.

Many are the stories that come to mind of Oorloff. A parent who was an Alumnus of Trinity challenged CJO. It was against the non award of a Rugger Lion to his son who was nonetheless an excellent ruggerite.  There was a series of letters that got into the Old Boys’ public domain. CJO had stated that the decisions made by the Lions Award Committee were final and binding and that the School would not entertain challenges. The debate continued for a while. With his characteristic flair to draw a line when things got of hand, CJO replied with this storied one liner:

Dear Parent,
Thank you for your letter.
Let's agree to disagree.
Very sincerely,
C. J. Oorloff.

But Mr. Oorloff’s erudition and eloquence was what gripped the attention of the audiences he addressed in his writings and speeches. It demonstrated the deeper values and faith he stood for, the bar that he raised for standards that he wanted Trinitians to aspire to, and a fearlessness with which he took on the authorities on matters that affected the educational system and by implication the running of the country. His Prize Day address in 1961, which was half a century ago displayed a prescience that is so very relevant to us today--- whether it’s the end of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka or the advent of the Arab Spring.

 And I quote:

“One of the murals in the Chapel depicts our Lord washing his disciples’ feet. The picture has suffered much from the weather and badly needs re-doing. But its message is as clear and as challenging as when the picture was first painted, and a hundred times more relevant. The thirst for power, so deeply instinct in our human nature, has, in the newly liberated areas of the world, received a new and exciting impetus from the surrender of authority by those who had it hitherto; and in the scramble for succession, we have forgotten that the real authority comes only to those who are found willing, nay, wanting to SERVE. Neither Governments nor Churches nor individuals can afford to forget this. They are, none of them, immune from the slow and subtle corruption bred by power.

Tagore has put it very simply:--

Power said to the world, “You are mine”
The world kept it prisoner on her throne.
Love said to the world, “I am thine.”
The world gave it the freedom of her house.’
Thus the Indian sage echoes the world’s Savior, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

“We at Trinity need to remember that as much as any one else. May we never forget".

Cedric Oorloff’s concluding prayer, appeal and even his admonition offered 51 years ago draws from the inner character of the School we honor today, and one that should resonate in our generation and among generations to come.

About Mr M V Muhsin :

Mohamed Vazir Muhsin, born in Kandy, Sri Lanka is a Strategic Management Consultant and the pioneer of MVM & Associates, a Management Consultancy firm in Washington DC. After his retirement in 2005, as Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) of World Bank, he served on several international and corporate boards. Mohamed Muhsin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. M.V.Muhsin attended the elite Trinity College, Kandy in Sri Lanka and was awarded the Ryde Gold Medal (an annual award for the best student) in 1962. He earned his degree in Chartered Accountancy from Colombo.

Arthur Shelton Wirasinghe by Kumar De Silva

It was mid December 1961. The air had taken on a familiar chill as it usually does around that time of the year. And as the Christmas wind furiously roared through the numerous trees that grace its spacious gardens, 'Karlsruhe House' awaited its new master.

Driving up the incline which led to the house, past the sprawling green expanse of lawn, and into the wide columned portico, together with his family, was Arthur Shelton Wirasinghe, the man who was to preside over 'Karlsruhe House' and head Wesley College for a memorable and eventful 21 years. "It was the Revd Fred de Silva who put the challenge to me to head a non-fee levying school. And so I took it on in 1962", Shelton Wirasinghe once recalled.

A month later at 5.00 pm on January 15th 1962, With none less than the Revds W. J. T. Small and Fred de Silva present, the College hall saw the solemn induction of Wesley's 15th Principal. "This is the moment of rededication in my life. it is my hope and prayer that this school will be allowed lo function by the state in an atmosphere of freedom. Education does not end with the gaining of jobs. it is much more than that. Education is the training and discipline of the entire person ", were his words that evening.

My earliest recollections of ASW date back to 1968 when as a five-year old in Grade One, I was mortally terrified of this big burly man whose stentorian voice boomed through the corridors along which he strode with military precision. We always fled into hiding whenever even a speck of him became visible in the vicinity. My first direct verbal encounter with "principal" I think was in Grade 3' We had all heard that following year's class teacher, Mrs. Nirmali Fernando. She had been our class teacher the previous year, and we wanted her the following year too (three years in a row). But Miss Mary M and her passionately hated umbrella loomed large in our horizons.

No one had dared telling the Principal what to do and whom to appoint where. But it had to be done and I was the one to do it. I remember summoning a fistful of courage, inching into the principals office and saying teacher and NOT Miss MM next year". I expected him to explode, but he merely beamed in amusement and gently said. "We'll see putha". Sad to say we did get Miss Mary M. and that umbrella for a whole nightmarish year. That fright and shy withdrawal gradually diminished over the years as I came more into contact with the man in the higher classes. I discovered in him a warm heart and a wonderful capacity of reaching out to anyone-from kindergarten kid to school leaver.

My classmates and I greatly benefited by having ASW teach us for the NCGE, our first big public exam. I consider myself even more fortunate in having him teach me English for the GCE Advanced Level examination. I was the sole student offering English at College that year and so it was like private tuition. English lessons were always double periods before the interval. He never heard the bell ring nor see his wristwatch as tick away. And so our dramatic exploits into the world of literature continued right throughout the interval while fellow classmates ate, drank and made merry.

Principal's Bungalow


To him it was more a sharing of knowledge rather than imparting or instructing it. So much so that the vast treasure trove of his personal library which he loved, was always open to me from my AL days until I completed my final examination at university a month before his demise in November 1985. Such was the generosity, characteristic of the warm man he was. Born on 24th November 1923 in a house at the foot of Richmond Hill, Galle, a four-year old Arthur Shelton began scrawling his ABCs and 1,2,3s at Richmond College under whose portals he was later to pass as prefect, senior prefect, staff master.

Headmaster, vice Principal and finally Principal. His meteoric rise at College was punctuated by successes in almost every field. Fie was the indefatigable chorister, debator, dramatist, .scout, athlete, musician, cricketer and .scholar. His relatively easy stride in the academic sphere was crowned when he was awarded the College's much-coveted Darrel Medal for the Best Student. In 1942, he offered English, Latin and History for his first degree which he passed with an upper second Tempered by the inspiring influence of Principal like the Revd. Alex Sneath, Revd. John Dalby and (my father's first cousin) E. R. de Silva, such was the many- faceted career which did his Alma Mater proud. Gently spurning parental wishes that he become a lawyer or civil servant, Shelton Wirasinghe gave vent to his love for teaching. His first teaching assignment was at St Anthony's School, Rakwana. But consequently contracting cerebral malaria, he had to leave. Coming down to Colombo, he served for a short spell at St Peter's College where he taught English and History in the HSC and SSC forms. 1947 saw Richmond College proudly welcome him as vice Principal. Shortly afterwards he left for Birmingham to obtain a post graduate certificate in education.

He read up to the MA (Ed) and even bagged the George Cadbury Prize for the Best Student of the Year. Returning down South to hometown Galle, ASW assumed duties as Principal of Richmond until 1961, soon after which he moved to Wesley in the same capacity. ASW's teaching has become all the more personal in that it has spanned two generations of my family. He first taught my late father Justin at Richmond College Galle and then my brother Nimal and my self at Wesely. In fact many years later, my father was to serve on the staff of Wesley and under ASW. ASW had a marvellous and wizardly way of inculcating in one, an undying interest in and love for the English language, literature, poetry ... it came spontaneously to him. And I was all the more richer by it. His passion for the arts was highly contagious and infectious. Coming much into contact with him, I found a great deal of it rubbing on me too.

Most students couldn't help but be caught up in the overwhelming tide of interest that swept them off their feet. To hear the man speak was another treat. Hours have we spent listening to his crystal clear enunciated words and perfect pronunciation. If to the Richmondites, a picture of a Principal who spent his evenings on the playing fields in a pair o; billowing old khaki shorts "of 1931 vintage" is what SW conjures up, we Wesleyites associate him with a bespectacled, bush-shirted man whose simplicity an( relative modestly earned for him the love and respect of his students. A Richmondite had once written "Looking at that picture which hangs on the wall, who would have though that the rather gawky lad with a huge nose and large spectacles would turn out to be this man .... it is not just enough to hear of Shelton, you must see him in his many dimensional glory. How very true this is.

Mr. A. S. WIRASINHA (1923 - 1985)

s3Mr. Arthur Shelton Wirasinha B.A. (Lond.) MA (Ed), Cert. Ed. (B'ham), was born in the Kumbalwella Village on 24th November 1923. He joined Richmond in 1927 and finished his schooling in 1941 having won the coveted Darell Medal which is the highest academic award for a student at Richmond. He then entered the University of Ceylon in 1942 and did his BA and passed out with an upper second class honours.

Mr. Wirasinha was a chorister, a debator, a dramatist, a scout, an athlete, a musician, a cricketer and a scholar. His ambition was to be a teacher and his first teaching assignment was at St. Anthony's School, Rakwana. Whilst at Rakwana he contracted Malaria and had to leave for health reasons. He then taught at St. Peter's College, Bambalapitiya for a short period. In 1947 Mr. E. R. de Silva the incumbent Principal of Richmond hand picked Mr. Wirasinha as the Vice Principal. Coming back to his alma mater as her Vice Principal was something Mr. Wirasinha relished.

Mr. Wirasinha won a scholarship in 1952 and proceeded to the Birmingham University to do his MA (Ed) and won the George Cadbury Prize for the Best Student of the Year and the postgraduate Diploma in Educational Administration. Having completed his postgraduate studies he returned to Richmond in 1954 and continued to serve as her Vice Principal until 1957, when on retirement of Mr. E. R. de Silva the Mission elevated him to the position of Principal. He served in this capacity until 1961 and left the College after the take over of schools by the government and was appointed the principal of Wesley College, Colombo.

Mr. Wirasinha married Gladys Manel Dunuwille (? - 2007) of Kandy, an accomplished pianist in her own right and had a daughter Dushi.

Remembered with respect and gratitude

Inaugural Shelton Wirasinha Oration: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Distinguished old boy of Wesley College Colombo and well-known media personality Kumar de Silva, recently delivered the inaugural ‘Shelton Wirasinha Oration’ to a well-represented gathering in the College Hall.

Among those present were President/Bishop of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka Rev. Asiri Perera, Archdeacon of the Anglican Colombo Diocese Ven. Perry Brohier, members of the Wirasinha family including Nihal Jayamanne PC and Rohini Jayamanne, Past Principal MAP Fernando, former acting Principal Upali Ratnayake, distinguished old boys Managing Director of Metropolitan Ivor Mahroof and Chief Operating Officer of the Commercial Bank S. Renganathan, teachers past and present, and, students past and present.

In his comprehensively well-researched and eloquently delivered one-hour long oration, de Silva traced Shelton Wirasinha’s life, from his birth at the foot of Richmond Hill in Galle, his years from Grade 01 culminating in being appointed Principal of Richmond College, to Wesley College Colombo over whose destiny he presided for an eventful 21 years from 1962-1983.

Shelton Wirasinha, in fact, goes on record as being the second longest serving Principal of the College after Revd. Henry Highfield.

Fondly referred to as ‘ASW’, Arthur Shelton Wirasinha touched the hearts and lives of tens of thousands of students who passed through the portals of Wesley College. Now spread across all over the globe, even to this day they all fondly remember him with great respect and deep gratitude.

Kumar de Silva, the Orator, had his entire school education at Wesley College and came under the direct tutelage of Shelton Wirasinha to whom he gratefully credits a very large part of his success in life today.


Shelton Wirasinha, the Bard of the Wesley Manor by Kumar de Silva

Published on the 100th Birth Anniversary of Mr A.S Wirasinha - From the Island Newspaper

With his 21-year tenure as Principal of Wesley College from 1962-1983, Arthur Shelton Wirasinha goes on record as being the second longest serving Principal of the College after Revd. Henry Highfield. A product of Richmond College, Galle, he touched the hearts and lives of tens of thousands of students who passed through the portals of Wesley College. This article which celebrates the man on his 100th birthday today, is extracted from the inaugural Shelton Wirasinha Oration delivered by well-known media personality Kumar de Silva, one of his grateful students. Shelton Wirasinha was born on 24th November 1923 in a house at the foot of Richmond Hill in Galle. His father was Lionel Wirasinha, a draughtsman in the government service and his mother was Letitia, a teacher. The Wirasinhas kept a simple home with a large garden full of wild flowers, which played home to a large variety of birds. They were proud of their two boys – Arthur Shelton and his older brother Victor Lloyd, who went on to become a brilliant Civil Servant.

The four-year old Arthur Shelton began scrawling his ABCs and 1,2,3s at Richmond College under whose portals he was later to pass as Prefect, Senior Prefect, Teacher, Headmaster, Vice Principal and Principal. His meteoric rise at College was punctuated by successes in almost every field. He was the indefatigable chorister, debater, dramatist, scout, athlete, musician, cricketer and scholar. A keen sportsman, he excelled in cricket, track and field events, basketball and tennis. He was also a very eloquent speaker. His easy stride in the academic sphere was crowned when he was awarded the College’s much-coveted Darrel Medal for the Best Student. His school career was tempered by the inspiring influence of Principals like the Rev. Alex Sneath, Rev. John Dalby and, my own paternal uncle, E. R. de Silva. Offering English, Latin and History, he passed with an Upper Second for his Bachelor’s Degree and did two brief teaching spells at St. Anthony’s School, Rakwana and St Peter’s College, Colombo. 1947 saw Richmond College proudly welcome one her illustrious products as Vice Principal.

Five years later 1952, he was awarded a scholarship and left for Birmingham, UK where he read his MA in Education. Returning to Galle, he assumed duties as Principal of Richmond. This was his crowning glory. Then came 1961 and it was time for him to leave Richmond and take over the reins at Wesley. Wesley College 1961-1983

It was mid-December 1961. The unmistakable Christmas chill was in the air. The wind howled through the cypress trees at Karlsruhe, geographically the highest point in Colombo as the Wirasinhas drove up the drive to the 101-year-old Karlsruhe House (once owned by Charles Ambrose Lorensz) which solemnly awaited its new occupants – Shelton, Manel and the three-year-old Dushy. He was to preside over the destiny of Wesley and charter its course for 21 years. It earned him the title – Bard of the Wesley Manor – which I think suited him perfectly. He was with no doubt THE quintessential Bard of the Wesley Manor. Early recollections

My early recollections go back to 1968, to Grade 01. There was this big burly man striding in military precision through the corridors which boomed with his stentorian tone. We were petrified of him and fled when we saw him. ASW – the Teacher of English

My fear of him gradually subsided and I went into the higher classes. I was the only one in class offering English and French and German. I was first in class. I was last in class. If I cut classes or cut school, I got caught. I was the proverbial arecanut caught in the nutcracker.

Shelton Wirasinha’s forte was literature – drama, prose and poetry. My English lessons with him were the two periods just before the interval. His office was what is now, the current Principal’s Secretary’s office. There was no air-conditioning and so the doors were wide open. He always sat by the door and backed the College Office. I always sat with my chair half in the doorway and backed the office. No one saw our faces.

Shelton Wirasinha got passionately and deeply involved in the literature and poetry he taught. He had this fascinating capacity of bringing characters to life. He almost made them tangible, living, breathing human beings. And so with Leonard Woolf we went through the deep and evil forest that surrounded the village of Beddegama …. with Wordsworth we wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills … with Walter de la Mare we held our breath and observed – Slowly, silently, now the moon, Walks the night in her silver shoon; This way, and that, she peers, and sees, Silver fruit upon silver trees; … with John Keats we saw Autumn sitting careless on a granary floor, her hair soft lifted by the winnowing wind“…and with Shakespeare we helplessly we saw the Othello the Moor “put out the light put out the light“.

I remember he used to get into an absolute rage when portraying the moments as Iago poisons Othello’s mind … his voice rising in a crescendo, almost screaming, he would ‘become’ the enraged Othello.There I was enjoying the performance while the entire office went dead silent, staff stopped work and stared, open mouthed – they thought I was getting blasted to smithereens by the Principal. No, I wasn’t. Such were the multi-dimensional English lessons with Shelton Wirasinha. To him it was sharing of knowledge and not teaching it. Interval

He was so passionately and deeply engrossed that he never heard the interval bell ring. I heard boys playing and shouting outside but he never did. How on earth could I say “Sir, Now Stop !!!” Even as an AL student I dared not. Mercifully he did hear the bell at the end of the interval. I used to say, “Sir the interval is over and I’m not allowed to go to the tuck shop. The prefects will pull me up”.

Back came the reply, “Follow me Putha. I am the Principal“. And so I trotted behind him to the tuck shop.The prefects, obnoxious as they were, took great delight in pulling me up. I had the perfect cover. Cockily I would say – “Ask the Principal“. They dared not. Assemblies and Pronunciation

Shelton Wirasinha was particular about his pronunciation which went beyond being meticulous. His articulation was perfect and he made the correct stress on the correct vowel, the correct syllable. Pronouncing the ‘V’ and ‘W’ were important to him. Listening to him talk was like listening to a surgeon’s scalpel sliding through a slab of frozen butter … you the reader can figure that out! With him on stage at Assembly, we knew we were in for a treat. He was a grand raconteur, a story teller with a storehouse of stories and tales. He fired our imagination and there were lessons to be learnt Spelling W-i-r-a-s-i-n-h-a

Shelton Wirasinha was neither fussy nor demanding but there was one thing that irked him a lot and that was when his name was mis-spelt. He would actually get very, very cross. It had to be spelt as W-I-R-A-S-I-N-H-A. Golden Era of Culture and the Arts

Shelton Wirasinha’s era at Wesley was also the Golden Era of Culture and the Arts. During his time, on the staff were great names such as Jayantha Premachandra the international award-winning artist, Basil Mihiripenne the celebrated oriental dancer and sitarist, Felix Premawardena the dramatist and actor, and, Haig Karunaratne the dramatist and choir master par excellence. They were the Stars of Wesley.

Prize Day – Founder’s Day He was very fastidious and paid great attention to detail. Everything had to be perfect. He chose the music with great care. There were two hymns which were close to his heart. One was “I vow to Thee my Country” which he played on every Founder’s Day morning as the procession of flags entered the Hall to begin the service. The other was “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah“


The dusky damsel who inhabited Karlsruhe House, Dushy Wirasinha, his daughter, must have been a lucky young lady. She had hundreds of brothers and they were all Wesleyites. He called us ‘Putha’. He knew a large, large number of boys by their first names. It was an individual bond he created with all of us. His simplicity and modesty earned for him the love and respect of his students.

Gladys Manel Dunuwille

To write of Shelton Wirasinha is also to write of his wife Gladys Manel Dunwille, one of the five extremely talented Dunuwille girls. If Shelton Wirasinha was the Bard of the Wesley Manor, then Manel was the Empress of Karlsruhe. The bungalow and the lawn were her realm, and there she reigned supreme in all her glory. She made it her personal vocation to maintain Karlsruhe House like a jewel. Karlsruhe, this heritage building, meaning Charles Rest in German, is the Jewel in Wesley’s Crown.

An interesting feature in the house is the historic satinwood screen with a background in the traditional acanthus pattern separating the drawing room from the dining room. The letter ‘L’ for Lorenz appears in one of the panels, while the other panel bears the letter ‘K’ for Karlsruhe.

Generations of boys knew those polished verandah floors where one could literally see one’s face. We weren’t allowed to walk on those polished floors. Those who had to, had also to remove their shoes. Even Shelton Wirasinha! The day before Prize Day, it was a treat to see the trophies and cups and shields all polished and gleaming on the verandah.

The Bungalow was a veritable cultural oasis. Shelton, Manel and Dushy their daughter shared in their love for music. Mrs. Wirasinha was a double gold medallist of both the Royal and Trinity Schools of Music London. Dushy also played the piano. And so that old Marshall and Rose piano made beautiful music, it sang. It sang happily, it sang dolefully, it sang in different moods and genres. And the music of the masters – Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Debussy, Bach, Haydn – literally poured out of the Bungalow, over the verandah, across the drive and into Wesley College. To those of us who appreciated it – it was bliss. Post Wesley College

Shelton Wirasinha served Wesley from 1961 to 1983 and then it was time to go. They had to leave the majestic Karlsruhe House. They moved to Nawala, to a much smaller house than Karslruhe but they were comfortable there. We were then delighted to see him on television as Quiz Master of the Dulux Do You Know Competitions.

I visited him often during that period. I was then an undergraduate at the University of Kelaniya, reading English and French for a Hons. Degree. Just like it was at Wesley, his library was still open to me. As I lay dying

The very last time I visited him was one week before his death in November 1985. He had had hepatitis and was on slow road to recovery. I found him reading a book called ‘As I Lay Dying’, a 1930 novel by the American author William Faulkner. Whether this was a premonition or not, I don’t know.

He told me, “Putha get this book from the American Centre and read it. They have extra copies“. I borrowed the book the very next morning, hoping to read it that night. That evening, 13th November 1985, I learnt that he was dead, eleven days before his 62nd birthday. I did not open that book. Even to this day I have not read it.

Mr. K.M.De Lanerolle by Sunil J Peiris

s3Mr.Lanerolle functioned as Vice Principal under Revd. James Cartman. He was a tower of strength to him. The personal interest he took in the welfare of students endeared him to all. Mr. Lanerolle is a Graduate of the University of London, and holds a M. A. Degree from the University of Michigan in Linguistics. He is a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He is recognised as an outstanding Educationist. After his retirement as Principal of Kingswood College and Carey College, he was invited twice to Wesley as Principal in 1984 and in 1988. He is a well known public speaker, Broadcaster, Singer, Actor, and Writer, Among his works are " Southern River ", " Princess in all the Earth ", and "Names to remember". He spent his latter years in a retirement home and departed this life in May 2001. There is a fuller account in the 'Memoriam' page of this website.

Kenneth M. de Lanerolle - the wizard of prose and poetry

Nothing can bring back the spledour in the grass, and the glory of the flowers.

Kenneth M. de Lanerolle is still living in the hearts and minds of the old boys of Kingswood and Wesley Colleges. Recently he passed away peacefully bringing nostalgic tears to their eyes. They owe their very lives to him for the solid foundation he laid as an eminent educationist par excellence. He was 'a gem of purest ray serene'. The tall academic giant walked about with an aura of strict discipline although he was a kind and gentle lover of fine art especially English literature. Mr. Lanerolle blazed a trail of excellence at Blaze's Kingswood - the Methodist bastion of education and sports in the hill capital. He addressed the school assembly as Principal saying 'Good Morning gentlemen' and he really meant it and strived hard to capture the moods and traditions set by his predecessors.

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

He was the last principal of the assisted school which was eventually taken over by the government. He was also the first under the new dispensation. Later he was appointed as the Advisor of English Language education to the Prime Minister Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Mr. Lanerolle's greatness was in his skilful ability to impart his own unique fine qualities and a wide repertoire of wisdom direct to all students while giving individual attention. He instilled military regimentation among students to take timetables seriously and he was the supreme commander. He declared war against illiteracy and mediocrity and led from the front. Kenneth M. de Lanerolle was L.E. Blaze reborn to uplift the standard of education at Kingswood College Kandy- the school which introduced rugby football to the country, the concept of addressing students as gentlemen, prologue at the prize giving etc. During Mr. Lanerolle's glorious tenure a Kingswoodian was selected as the schoolboy cricketer of the year. The soccer and hockey teams emerged Kandy District Champions. No wonder Kingswood produced all rounders and leaders of exceptional confidence and determination, honesty and integrity.

Always on the move, he regularly strolled up and down the misty Randles Hill and along corridors to keep the students attentive and teachers on their toes. He took the senior English language and literature lessons himself. When it came to his first love - English literature, the creative artist in him rose to such heights that the students could visualise the Getambe hills and the sprawling Hantana mountain range as the 'peak wilderness'. He made waterfalls gush through the ceiling when he opened John Still's 'Jungle Tide'! Mr. Lanerolle painted with words the lines of Wordsworth! When he read the poem 'Highway-man' the bandit almost rode up to the class room door! The characters of Emily Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' appeared from nowhere to excite the students, whose imagination was ignited by the wizard of prose and poetry.

Mr. Lanerolle was a perfect blend of the East and West and he treated elitist students and English prose as well as children of peasants and Sri Lankan literature equally. He was most compassionate to open the doors of Kingswood College to less fortunate boys in the neighbourhood to learn English language for one hour every week and he enlisted students who volunteered to teach in the evening. That alone speaks volumes of the man who was indeed an eminent, committed and dedicated visionary in education, a legendary genius and a refined gentleman and above all a compassionate teacher. May God grant him eternal life through Jesus Christ.


Kenneth M de Lanerolle Remembered by Dr.Nihal D.Amerasekera

January 2010

"His name liveth forever more"

Mr Kenneth De Lanerolle had his education at Richmond College Galle where he was also a teacher, briefly. He graduated from the University of London and completed his Masters Degree in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was an inspirational schoolmaster and a renowned scholar in the field of Geography where he was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London. The breadth of his learning was impressive. A man of considerable principle and deep Christian faith Mr.Lanerolle earned the lasting respect of colleagues and pupils for his achievements, a respect that often deepened into warm affection.

Mr.Kenneth De Lanerolle had a phenomenal command of the English language and its diction. He pronounced his words eloquently and with great style and panache much like an aristocratic Englishman. In his years at Wesley as its Vice Principal he tried his best to get us to pronounce correctly the word KARLS-RUHE which means Charles' Rest, but with little success. We continued to say "Karlsruhe" to his utter disappointment and disgust.

Mr Lanerolle was an all-rounder. Although he never played competitive sports he supported sports at school most enthusiastically. He had a keen interest in the Drama at Wesley and helped new productions. He was also involved in the more serious Drama at the Lionel Wendt Theatre. He had a deep love for music, particularly classical music and opera. Mr Lanerolle sang baritone and was a part of a Barber Shop Quartet that sang at popular venues in Colombo. They specialised in the haunting music of the suffering of the African Americans euphemistically called the "Negro Spirituals". He was also an accomplished artist.

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

Mr.Lanerolle was a Principal of 3 schools: Wesley, Kingswood and Carey. He had a vision for each of the schools he served, and great tenacity in pursuing it. He was one of the most successful reforming Principals of his era. He led three good schools and left them all in significantly better condition than when he took them on, raising their academic standards, grooming them for the next century, and ensuring that they responded to the demands of modern society. What I liked about him was his quiet modesty and the way in which, through all the trials and tribulations of administration, he remained a real schoolmaster. No one ever doubted that his pupils and his colleagues mattered most to him. He worked with the legacy of practical idealism laid down by Wesley’s founder, Rev DH Pereira, while greatly improving the academic culture of the school and enhancing its tradition of service to the community. KMdeL never gave any favours and showed none which enhanced his respect as a teacher. He was intensely loyal to the institutions he served. That he was able to run, and to reform, as effectively as he did was because he drove himself so hard and he saw the big picture. He loved the schools so much.

At Carey College he became a significant influence on raising academic standards. He was keen to stay closely in touch with modern developments. The pace he set was compelling. A stickler on the small things, eg. punctuality and punctuation, he also confronted the big issues: the quality of the intake, the quality ot the lessons, the economic health and the future direction of the school. It was clear what he wanted. He wanted more ambition and greater excellence. By the time he left the school had arrived in the academic mainstream.

Given his achievements and background, it was not perhaps surprising that he was recruited, to take on the Principalship of Kingswood College. The school that Mr Lanerolle inherited was still the old school held in a time warp of the 1950's. Although he did not seek to change the ethic of practical idealism, laid down by his predecessors, he took steps to improve its academic standards. He changed its image to suit the new generation and prevent slipping from its position among the elite. He cemented the schools relations with the local community which was well received in Kandy. Kingswood's present standing owes much to his vision and to the refurbishment and rebuilding to which he committed the school.

I remember Mr.Lanerolle as a Vice Principal in his late forties wearing black rimmed bifocals. At times he appeared pretty daunting. He was a strict but fair disciplinarian. Those were the days of corporal punishment. He used the cane sparingly but to good effect. No one dared to cross his path. Mr Lanerolle commanded respect by the high moral standards he upheld and even in those days dealt with students with respect. He had a vision for the school which he carried out with great determination, but he also knew the importance of the little things, for instance that the atmosphere is different if shoes are cleaned and shirts tucked in, and he went on bothering about them.

For us boarders he seemed to be ever present in our lives. We often saw him doing his constitutional walk along the long corridors and gardens of the school. Often a polite nod greeted us. Mr Lanerolle joined Mr and Mrs Oorloff at the State Dinners on Thursdays with the rest of the boarders and hostel masters. Then we seemed like one large family. Mr Lanerolle often took our prayers in the hostel Chapel on weekdays at 7.45pm when he read a passage from the Bible and we sang a Hymn.

On a personal level He was with my father at school at Richmond College Galle. He was on occasions seen at school chatting with Mr.Lanerolle in his cubicle at the office. This unnerved me. Soon my father confirmed they were friendly visits to recall the years together at Richmond College during the Principalship of Rev WJT Small. This was to my great relief.

Mr Lanerolle relished all the challenges he faced and he made a deep and enduring impact on many people. He loved his faith and his schools: these were the landmarks of a dedicated and distinguished life. He will be remembered as a great communicator and a brilliant speaker, who was at his ease with governors, educationalists, pupils and parents alike.

Mostly he was a quiet man and guarded his private life fiercely. Despite this he had numerous friends whom he entertained often and lavishly. He held his many important posts in education with much dignity and great style. He was an educationist par excellence the likes of whom we may never see again. Now, for most, Teaching is not the lifetime career it used to be but a stepping stone to a more lucrative job elsewhere.

The Australian OB's subscribed to take him Down Under for a fortnight. He was wined and dined during that time by numerous grateful old boys. The many photos of his holiday showed the warmth of that invitation.

Mr Lanerolle was a man of deep religious convictions. On retirement, he was appointed the Director of the Asian Christian Service in Vietnam, where for the yeoman services rendered he was awarded the Social Services Medal. Returning from this assignment in Vietnam he devoted himself to the activities of the National Christian Council and served in that organisation in many capacities.

He spent his final years of his life in a comfortable and caring Nursing Home in Colombo. Many old boys and friends visited him at this Home which brought him great joy. His mind remained clear until the very end and he enjoyed reminicing and relating old anecdotes from his long and illustrious career. He told them, now, he was in the departure lounge!! Having completed his 90th birthday on the 20th of April, Kenneth M De Lanerolle passed away peacefully on the 5th of May 2001.

He made innumerable friends throughout his exciting and eventful life. I hope there was a church big enough for the memorial service!

Mr Lanerolle's booming baritone voice– rich with his extraordinary presence – remains compelling and must echo in the corridors and classrooma at Wesley College Colombo.

I finish with an excerpt from a Sri Lankan Daily:

1960 Big Match-The Kingswood vs Dharmaraja cricket match was Tied: Kingswood’s Principal, K. M. de Lanerolle, awards the match to Dharmaraja having gone through the score book for better performance - although the scores were the same.

In November 2009 I received from Arthur d'With Barbut now living in Melbourne, a posthumous novel, called the "Pale Hands" written by Dagmar Jayawardene and edited by Kenneth M De Lanerole. It was presented to Arthur and Cecil by Mr Lanerolle on his visit to Melbourne in March 1991. Arthur and Cecil have very kindly given the book to me as a safe custodian of our school's memorabilia. I am most grateful to the d'With Barbut family for this kind gesture and vow to preserve this gift for the future. I wish to present this to the Wesley College Archive when it is properly established as the guardian of our school's heritage.

On 12th January 2010

Dear Nihal

I have just read your excellent article on Kenneth de Lanerolle. As you know very well, as boarders, Wesley and all it stood for was 24/7 for all of us. In that atmosphere we were often well known to the Wesley Principals/Vice Principals/Head Master/Chaplain who also lived on the College campus. They often led the daily devotional time in the Hostel Chapel, and were compulsory guests at the weekly “State Dinner” in the hostel dining room on Thursday nights.

I like many of the boarders, was well known to Kenneth de Lanerolle. I was proud to be asked by him to play a part in a presentation he was asked to make on Radio Ceylon. It was an honour to be trained by him personally on how to present when on radio.

It was a pleasure for Glenys and I to invite him for Lunch at our home during his visit to Melbourne. He had lost none of his charm and quick wit and enjoyed good red wine. We were impressed with his sharp mind and assessment of the educational challenges facing his beloved country. At the conclusion of the meal he presented my brother Cecil and I with the book titled “The Pale Hands” which he posthumously edited for his dear sister. The inscription in his hand writing was greatly revered.

Warm regards


PALE HANDS by Dagmar Jayawardene

FOREWORD By Kenneth M De Lanerolle

Dagmar Jayawardena was the eighth child of A. C. de Lanerolle and his wife, Mary. She went to Girls' High School (now Southlands) in the quaint old Dutch fort of Galle, where most of us had learnt at the feet of missionary principals and Ceylonese teachers of rare excellence.

When Dagmar married and went to live in a remote village of the Hill Country it must have been a wrench to leave the comforts of a comparatively progressive region and the joys of a large (though poor) family for a countryside where life ran in grooves determined by age-old tradition.

But she had the knack of adapting herself to change, an openness to things new and challenging and above art a spring of cheerfulness which never ran dry, even in the face of sorrow and disappointment. She soon learnt to appreciate all that was fine in the village culture and at the same time to see its unsavourv side. Though Christians, she and Felix found themselves the patrons of the village temple and strict observers of the folk rites which accompany all phases of village life: birth, betrothal, marriage, death.

Dagmar was first and foremost a mother and, especially after her husband's early death, took pains with the upbringing of her two children. The years passed. Her daughter married and left the ancestral home. Then, when her son took a wife, she graciously left the walauwwa to him and his bride and moved into an unpretentious house by the roadside on its acre of land which was her own. Here, knowing the ins and outs of every family in the region, she moved easily with all levels of its society and willingly accepted the role of patron and friend. She became the grand dame of Yatagama.

One exciting experience Dagmar had was a trip to the United States, arranged for her by two members of the family. It gave her a break from what seemed to us a drab and uneventful life and she returned from America to her cottage full of ideas for improving the village which had been her home for over forty years.

But it was not to be. In 1979 she took ill and had to seek medical treatment in Colombo where she went to live with her daughter, son-in-law and their four children. Soon the news came that my sister had Cancer of the spine. Slowly but surely the cruel disease closed in on her, first aIlowing her to hobble about the house, then driving her to bed where she was forced to lie on her back. During these long hours of loneliness and inaction she had her moments of despair and darkness; but not once did she lose her faith or sense of humour. Doctors, nurses, attendants and visiting friends all caught something of her warm humanity and blithe spirit.

It was as she was in this condition that Dagmar got the idea of writing a book. To us, who watched with grief her visible decline, it seemed fantastic. But she started-first at her bed-side table, then, as she lay on her back, writing on scraps of paper held up in the air; then, when her fingers failed her, she spoke her thoughts to kind friends who took them down. During her last days which she spent in my home at Kandy and despite the pain, she and I had many friendly quarrels about the book: its content, style, title, format. Mercifully, the end came soon but before the story could be finished.

Thus the melancholy task of putting the manuscript together and filling in the gaps fell to me. It has been a privilege to do this for one who was so brave and cheerful till the very end.

Kenneth M. de Lanerolle.


20th October 1983.

Kenneth M. de Lanerolle

A Tribute on the 100th Birth Anniversary
By Tissa Jayatilaka

20 April 2011 marked the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Kenneth Mervyn de Lanerolle, the late distinguished educationist and one time Principal of Kingswood College, Kandy. He hailed from an illustrious family rooted in southern Sri Lanka noted for its public service, especially in the sphere of education. Several of his sisters, and he himself, began and ended their careers as teachers and educational administrators. He was the bada pissa (the youngest of a family of nine children) that A.C. de Lanerolle (1860-1944) and Mary de Lanerolle (1869-1933) brought into this world.

His older sisters and brothers all of whom pre-deceased him were Lydia de Lanerolle (1890-1976), J.P.N.(Percy) de Lanerolle (1892-1963), Ruth de Lanerolle (1894-1973), Hazel Wijeyeratne (1896-1991), H.C.N. (Duncan) de Lanerolle (1898-1990), Myrtle de Lanerolle (1901-1948), Malcolm de Lanerolle (1903-1977), and Dagmar Jayawardena (1906-1980). This information of his family is contained in a tablet that Mr. de Lanerolle had erected on 21 February 1996, at the All Saint’ Church in Galle, the year in which that institution marked its 125th anniversary. Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle himself passed away six years later in January 2002 at age 91.

According to Jeanne Pinto (see the then Ceylon Observer, 7 March 1954, Sunday Morning edition) and James T. Rutnam (Daily News, 21 and 22 March 1972) the de Lanerolles of Sri Lanka are descended from Monsieur Laisne de Nanclairs da la Nerolle, a French Ambassador to the Court of King Rajasinha II of Kandy who landed at Trincomalee on 21 March 1672. It is presumed that the King had invited the French to lend him support in his struggle with the Dutch. In March 1672, a squadron of thirteen or fourteen ships of the French Navy under Admiral de La Haye anchored at the entrance to the Trincomalee harbor. Ambassador de la Nerolle was a prominent member of the Haye’s mission. L.S. (Lorna) Dewaraja in her authoritative Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka 1707-1782, 2nd edition, 1988, refers to Appuhami (Gentleman-in-waiting) de Lanerolle, the French Ambassador who had arrived in Trincomalee as stated above and who later worked in the court of the King of Kandy. According to James Rutnam, a colleague of de la Nerolle who published in Paris in 1677, the first account (in French), of this ill-fated naval expedition refers to de la Nerolle in extravagant terms, which when freely rendered into English would mean that he was "a man who had been always regarded most favourably for his high spirit and honourable conduct."

Kenneth Mervyn de Lanerolle was indeed a worthy descendant. He was a spirited individual whose conduct was always honourable and based on the highest standards. Products of my generation of Kingswoodians who came under the spell of this de Lanerolle will recall his tremendous self-confidence, his erudition and his fearless defence of all those values that Kingswood and he unflinchingly stood for, no matter from which quarter the threats and challenges to those values emanated. Politicians of all hues and mandarins of all types from the Ministry of Education dared not make any unnecessary inroads into Kingswood’s portals where Kenneth de Lanerolle held court! Our revered Principal’s personality embodied these and other splendid character traits which to our good fortune rubbed off on us impressionable school boys of the time: so much so that I can say with confidence that not one of my intimate friends from Kingswood will genuflect before little men (and women) ‘dress’d in brief authority’; none who will sell his soul for a mess of pottage; and none who will resort to the ‘not done’ things of life. And for this, we have to be forever in Kingswood’s, and its superlative head, de Lanerolle’s debt.

We, Kingswoodians are referred to as ‘Gentlemen of Kingswood’, a hoary tradition of the school on Randles Hill, whenever a teacher walks into a classroom or the Principal greets us in the College Hall at morning assembly. The intention is a deliberate one, to make us grow into gentlemen eventually. Rightly has it been said that living up to the demands of being a gentleman is a heavy burden to carry. But carry it we must if we are not to dishonor our alma mater and our superb margopadeshakas, our teachers.

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

As I write this tribute to Mr. de Lanerolle to mark what will have been his one hundredth birthday, my mind goes back to 1960 when I first set eyes on the great man. An individual’s early growth and development, for the most part are dependent on his parents and family and on his school and teachers. Kingswood and most of its teachers, who I was fortunate to be guided by, had a deep influence on me. Of all my teachers, undoubtedly the one who made the most abiding and decisive impact on my personality was Kenneth Mervyn de Lanerolle, my Principal at Kingswood.

All too often, sadly, we tend to speak or write glowingly of people long after they are dead and gone. I have, however, often felt that it is infinitely more meaningful to tell a person how much you love, cherish and value him/her during that person’s lifetime. Sometimes, it is also not a bad thing to point out gently the person’s shortcomings if and when one feels the need to do so.

During my 42-year association and friendship with Mr. de Lanerolle, happily, I had occasion to both tell him (and others who cared to hear and read) how much I loved him as a teacher, friend, philosopher and guide and gently criticize him for what I thought were his rough edges. The generous human being that he was, he took all that I threw at him in the spirit in which they were meant.

In this tribute, therefore, I decided to re-iterate some of the feelings and thoughts I have already expressed beginning in 1967, when Mr. de Lanerolle opted for early retirement from his profession rather than compromise on his values; at the felicitation to him on the occasion of his completing fifty years as an educationist organized by that wonderful clergyman, the late Revd. Celestine Fernando, and held at the Central YMCA, Colombo, on 22 May 1986; and at the Service of Thanksgiving for his life and work held at St. Paul’s Church, Milagiriya, on Sunday the 12th of January 2002. I also record some of the things others who knew Mr. de Lanerolle have said of him. In addition, I shall let Mr. de Lanerolle ‘speak’ for himself, for he was such an eloquent speaker and a wonderfully felicitous writer.

I propose to begin with some highlights from some of Mr. de Lanerolle’s excellent school Prize Day speeches and some extracts from his books, reports and essays that should provide us with a flavour of the marvellous human being whose life and work we are once again reflecting on, celebrating, and giving thanks for today.

Here is a quote from his brilliant Prize Day Speech of Kingswood College made on 11 October 1958. As some of these observations are as relevant today even after the lapse of more than half a century, I am resisting the temptation to edit this extract any further. Here is de Lanerolle in 1958:

There is not a single aspect of our life these days that is not in some way affected by what has come to be called The Emergency. And so, this Prize-Giving and the associated functions which together comprise Kingswood Week have, in their turn, been delayed by four months by the thing which has cast its evil and penetrating shadow on our fair land.

All emergencies are not necessarily regrettable. I recall the Emergency of 1942, when all elements of this country were united against a common enemy from outside. In the present case the enemy is within the gates! It has been the habit in Ceylon to attribute every shortcoming, every disability to the colonial regime, to western culture, to Christianity, to some convenient agent other than ourselves. The lamentable events of May - June have shown all too clearly that even in this demi-Paradise evil lurks in the heart of man.

It is everyone’s hope and prayer that the atrocities we witnessed will not reappear, once the sources from which they stemmed have been dried up. The violence of events, has, however, drawn away from people’s thoughts what I consider to be a more serious and insidious state of things: a marked fall in the standard of our social life, unmistakable signs of moral decadence around us.

Housewives complain of short weight. Householders look in vain for an honest mason or plumber. In offices men while away their time and in factories there is greater concern for allowances than for production. The traditional respect that we give to the robe is fraught with doubts whether it is really deserved. In the home discipline has dropped. University rags are apt to be obscene while in park and Parliament foul language is freely used. Meanwhile, thuggery is condoned, corruption is rewarded, vice increases and murder stalks the land.

Where are the old values and virtues: compassion, courage, kindliness, sacrifice, magnanimity? Time was when the exhortation of Paul to the Philippians would have sufficed for all:

Whatsoever things are true,
Whatsoever things are honest,
Whatsoever things are just,
Whatsoever things are pure,
Whatsoever things are lovely,
Whatsoever things are of good report

If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.
In place of these precepts we now appear to have the streamlined 1958 version:

Whatsoever things appeal to the crowd,
Whatsoever things are underhand,
Whatsoever things are narrowly commercial
Whatsoever things are likely to put you in power
Whatsoever things are lovely on the surface

If there be any temporary success, if there be any money or power in it, think on these things! The present age has been described as the age of the demagogue. No doubt it is the age of the demagogue. But is it not also becoming the age of the parvenu and the charlatan, of the thief, the dissembler and the cheat?

Here is de Lanerolle on the state of the English language in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, a subject that absorbed his intellect and energy throughout his life and career:

It is true of course that English - of a sort - is known and taught to all school-going children over the age of 8. But while a select few go abroad to sip the nectar pure and undefiled and a couple of thousands get a substantial diet in urban schools, over a million of our children have to be content with their daily dose of mutilated English in the villages.

(The Decline and Fall of English, Journal of the National Education Society of Ceylon, X,1,1961.)

The very best comprehensive Report on English we have in Sri Lanka indisputably is the one Mr. de Lanerolle wrote on behalf of the Committee appointed to inquire into the teaching of English in schools he chaired. Here is an extract form that publication:

English Literature … is no esoteric study. Rightly conceived and judiciously planned, it can not only become a useful ally of the TESL programme, giving depth and delight to classroom work and promoting the reading habit in school and in adult life, but also provide the matrix from which will emerge more and better teachers, translators and creative writers. (A Place in the Sun, Report on English, 1973).

An accomplished piece of creative writing in English is found in de Lanerolle’s memoir titled Southern River, 1971. Here is an example of the author’s limpid prose:

To catch that ineffable charm that lingers with any southern waterway you must keep clear of Commerce. Stroll along the right bank and sit with the village schoolmaster as he takes a lesson under a tree or stray into the temple, watching young novices criss-cross its sanded grounds with their ekel brooms.

You could hitch a ride in a cart, enjoy the hedges of lantana and hibiscus, counting the convulvuli, or dozing to the wooden play of the axles as it chimes with the bells round the bullock’s neck. Or, on foot, you may climb a hillock and pause to feast your eyes on the patchwork of green around you or to drink in the clean air and gentle hum of the rapids….

Or if you love the touch of water, as I do, trace a tributary to its source, startling strange birds, piercing unknown brambles and lingering curiously in the stream. Stand still in the wet with your sarong tucked up and the little fish will nibble at your knees; look treewards and ring-doves will gurgle in the branches. You smell the smell of moss and leaves and crumbling bark. And life is sweet.

The following is an extract from Mr. de Lanerolle’s "Princes in All The Earth(1981)" which passionately advocates the rights of the child:

It is perfectly true that the child lives in a world of his own, a world which we ourselves have lost as we grew to maturity; but it is equally true that the child shares with us a huge part of our lebensraum. Some of us have failed to recognize this while others see it as a threat to their security. For either or both these reasons, and without any understanding of what the future holds, we give children what we consider is good for them on the basis of what we think are their needs. We herd them into their peer groups and segregate them from ourselves. When we speak to them it is from a position of power. We proffer protection without participation, patronage in place of colleagueship….

If only the confrontation between adult and child could be broken, if only adult and child could face the future together, through renewed family life, through schools which are homes of love and concern and similar structure of comradeship, then their respective human rights will complement each other and Sri Lanka will have a fair chance of developing a life-style that is the envy of all.

And finally here is a quotation from Mr. de Lanerolle’s Prize Day Speech at Wesley College in 1984 (he had been persuaded by the School Management to come out of retirement to head the school of which he had been a long-standing teacher, Acting Principal and Vice-Principal prior to his move in 1958 to Kingswood as Principal):

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow

….We habitually polarize mankind into old and young, teachers and taught, those who know and those who do not know. The day is gone when teachers think they alone have the monopoly of learning and talk down to their classes from Olympian heights!; parents too no longer pretend that they are fountains of wisdom and paragons of perfection. But the dichotomies go on. Our world is run by adults for adults. Even the much-vaunted 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the child(which in its preamble solemnly states that ‘Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give’) falls short of specific obligations on the part of the adult to the child. What is needed is a Declaration of Human Duties with appropriate covenants and protocols to give it legal status.

Let us not deceive ourselves: adults are not fulfilling their obligations towards children, especially to adolescents who form the most neglected segment of society. Uncertain as to what group they belong to or what group they are believed to belong to, adolescents belong nowhere!

In his presentation at the 1986 felicitation for Mr. de Lanerolle, Prof. Ashley Halpé who had worked closely with the former Kingswood Principal when the latter served as a member of the Peradeniya University Council, noted that

Kenneth de Lanerolle’s achievements in and contributions to Education in this country are too well known to need praise or even recapitulation, though I am grateful for this opportunity to join those who admire him in this regard and will always remember him.

I wish however to pay a tribute to another aspect of his life and work: his deep concern for human values and his noble combination of charity with justice.

On many occasions during the early 80s and particularly in the aftermath of the troubled days of 1983 he was asked to look into student problems and specific disciplinary issues in the University of Peradeniya.

It was evident to us who assisted him that his compassion for the individual was in constant tension with his unshakeable rectitude forcing him to spare no effort, no detail, to see that justice was done. He did not shirk disagreement—and unpopularity—with men of power.

It was an education in moral responsibility to work with him.

Prof. Halpé may be interested to know that among some of his books and papers that Mr.de Lanerolle presented to me prior to his death was a copy of his unpublished Report on Student Disturbances at the University of Peradeniya in 1983. The authorities at Peradeniya suppressed this Report and had advised him to destroy copies of it in his possession. He contributed a paper based on this Report titled Terror in the Hall A Lesson for Institutions of Higher Education in other parts of the Third World? to a journal (North-South Perspectives) that I edited in 1987. That suppressed and unpublished Report of 1983 forms a very valuable part of my personal archives today.

I recall writing in early May 1986 to Mr. D.C. Matarage one of the longest serving members of the administrative staff of Kingswood College, informing him of the impending felicitation for Mr. de Lanerolle on the 22nd of the month. A significant and relevant paragraph of Mr. Matarage’s response of 16 May, 1986 is given below:

I am an invalid now - though not in the strict sense of the word, but long distance travel is forbidden by my surgeon. However, I am risking the patched up only eye I have to travel down and honour the great man to whom I owe so much.

Another venerable citizen of Kandy who served the Council of the University of Peradeniya together with Mr. de Lanerolle in the 80s is the former Banker Mr.C. Sankarkumaran. When he learnt of the felicitation of 1986, he sent me a note from which I quoted in my own presentation in May 1986. Mr.Sanakarkumaran was expressive though somewhat unconventional when he noted that Mr. de Lanerolle is ‘one of the last needles yet to be found in our national haystack.’

I wish to end this essay with three paragraphs from a contribution I made to Our Boys, Kingswood College’s Annual Magazine of 1967 titled Kenneth M. de Lanerolle - An Appreciation:

….With the passage of years I was among the more senior students of the school. With the responsibilities and privileges of prefectship given me I met Mr. de Lanerolle more often and found him a man of substance. His indefatigable capacity for work amazed me. He is a man of tremendous abilities. He is a very good actor, singer and is interested in the arts in general. He is a person with a clear conception of life, one fully aware of the common failings of man. He understands people very clearly and understanding them makes allowances for their failings. This was a truly refreshing and wonderful quality I saw in Mr.de Lanerolle. There were petty criticisms made [of him] mostly by envious people, but these neither deterred nor embittered him. He continued in the same dogged spirit taking everything in his stride, doing what he felt and believed was right.

He was a very stern administrator. He had the courage of his convictions to stand by any decision he took however controversial the consequences of the matter or unjustified the decision may have appeared to others. This I believe is the greatest strength and weakness of Mr. de Lanerolle. Once he had decided, no matter whatever is the opposition that may have arisen, he stood firm. Being human he erred at times! I suppose the generous sympathy and understanding he lavishly extended to his critics, he may have expected in return during these exceptional occasions.

Mr. de Lanerolle’s premature retirement is a blow to education in general and particularly so to Kingswood. He is a rare educationist, one whose tribe is now on the decrease. He belongs to that generation of teachers for whom teaching is a vocation not as it is today a stepping stone to a more lucrative source of employment. It is a great pity that he left us so prematurely. We were indeed fortunate though to have had him at Kingswood during a period of crisis. I refer to the period of the ‘take over’ [by the state] of schools. It was because of him that the tone and the spirit of the school remained unblemished. It was because of him we were able to retain our individuality amidst the chaos and confusion.

I shall forever cherish my memories of Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle and Kingswood College. I remain immensely grateful for the education the institution under his superb leadership imparted to me and my fellow-Kingswoodians. An education that has sustained me, and, I venture to think, others of my generation, and continues to sustain us as we contend with the ‘slings and arrows’ of life. I am confident that Kingswoodians of the present and the future will also be the beneficiaries of the knowledge and wisdom imparted to us by that ‘home of our early youth’ situated on Randles Hill ‘where nature is gracious and kind.’ The concluding stanza of the Kingswood Prologue of 1958, the year in which Mr.de Lanerolle assumed the position of Principal of the College, says it all –

Youth’s chance will come; we hear
tomorrow’s call
To service, not for one race,
but for all.
Meanwhile to work; to learn here all we can;
The boy may then be father of the man.
A man well disciplined to play the game,
Regardless of the glittering prize or fame;
True to tradition and the golden rule,
In the undying spirit of our school.
Whether with bat and ball, or book and pen,
We must be loyal Kingswood gentlemen.

Links to further reading



Kenneth M. de Lanerolle, Wesley’s father of basketball

18th November 2001

By Edmund Dissanayake

Kenneth M. de Lanerolle, former Principal of Wesley, Kingswood and Carey passed away earlier this year.

He was actively interested in sports, for he used to say that the disciplines learnt thereby were immeasurable. It was Mr. Lanerolle who introduced basketball to Wesley. He was able to obtain the services of Mr. Kingsbury of the Central YMCA to train our boys. The court was situated on the eastern side of Campbell Park where the practice cricket pitches now stand. Subsequently, the court was established on the north-eastern side of Wesley, thanks to the interest displayed by Mrs. Ranjini Fernando, the present principal’s wife as the Hony. Coach. In fact the interest among the students was such that single-handed she coached several junior teams with success.

Mr. Lanerolle’s interest in promoting cricket resulted in the Carey Old Boys presenting an annual trophy for the Wesley-Carey cricket encounter. Even after he lived in retirement in Kandy, he used to talk to the writer as to whether there would be a result, to enable him to be present the trophy when awarded.

In his capacity as principal of all three schools, he knew the strength and weakness of each player, and it was a pleasure to sit beside him watching the game. He was conversant with the ins and outs of the game.

One Sunil J. Peries in an appreciation stated that during the principalship of Mr. Lanerolle, Kingswood was in the forefront of all sports. In both soccer and hockey, Kingswood emerged Kandy District Champions. Further, a Kingswoodian was selected "Schoolboy Cricketer"... Maurice Fernando.

During the regime of Rev. James Cartman, Principal of Wesley, a drama which had a religious tinge was staged. The principal had requested that there was no need to show audience approbation, but as soon as Mr. de Lanerolle had rendered the song "Swing Low" there was deafening applause. He had a wide repertoire of songs.... specially Negro Spirituals. The writer is privileged to possess one of his cassettes containing 22 songs, among which are "I’m Patience", Blue Tail Fly, Ole Man River, Under the Bridges of Paris, Santa Lucia, Drink To Me Only, Deep River, etc.

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

It was Mr. de Lanerolle’s wish that his body be cremated as early as possible. He had planned his Final Exit ten years earlier, giving detailed instructions to A. F. Raymonds. Even the dress that he was to wear, was ready two years earlier. However, those near and dear to him gave him a right royal funeral. The Wesley College Prefects, together with Shelton Peries leading, walked in front of the hearse, and all the associations connected with the school, the Old Boys of Kingswood, Carey, Wesley, well-wishers, and friends, walked all the way from the Wesley Hall.

The principals of Wesley, Kingswood and Carey, Tissa Jayatilleke, Benson and the writer were the 6 pall-bearers on that solemn occasion.

The writer ends this simple tribute to a great man by referring to what Tissa Jayatilleke, a Kingswoodian had to say of him... "Mr. Lanerolle’s undisputed gifts and skills — a superb speaker, singer, actor, broadcaster, administrator, writer and a fearless critic of anything unworthy or unsavoury, and his quiet sense of humour, made me to respect him. Later, I began to discover the lovely human being in Mr. de Lanerolle. The man who cared for his family, the man who cared for his fellow-beings, the man who cared about issues that touched the lives of those around him, the man who defied powerful men who vainly attempted to compromise on fundamental issues, the man of letters, in a nutshell, I discovered in Mr. Lanerolle, a man of utmost integrity, refrinement and character. This is the de Lanerolle, I have grown to love and look up to and draw inspiration from".

To Sir, with Love - A Tribute to KM De Lanerolle
By Fred Abeyesekera

26th October 2010

My son Chrisantha (Victor) conveyed to me, to Canada, the sad news of his death.

I hadn’t seen him before I left Sri Lanka, in March 2001; and this made me feel his loss more sharply and poignantly.

My mind’s eye went back fifty years and more, to my days at Wesley College, Colombo, as a student, and my first meeting with Kenneth de Lanerolle, who had returned with a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, to enrich further, the quality of leadership at Wesley. He was Vice Principal, James Cartman was at Welsey’s helm. A more magnificent combination at the top, Wesley has not had, since then.

He served during one of Wesley’s great eras – an era of outstanding achievement – which indicates that committed leadership of the highest calibre, always has a tremendous impact, on the quality of achievement of any institution. Scholarship, music, dramatics, debating, choral singing, as well as sports, flourished.. The spate of centuries scored by Wesley batsmen, and the galaxy of superb bowlers and fieldsmen produced by her, topped up her image, as an outstanding cricket school, to the brim. Swimming and lawn tennis (now defunct!) flourished.

The college had many an excellent swimmer, with the Colombo harbour serving as our “pool”. In lawn tennis we proved our mettle, with D.B.C. Mack and N.U. Wirasekara winning the Public Schools’ Doubles Championship and consequently awarded Public Schools’ colours. Hockey was well nurtured as well with the expertise of Ceylon’s dribbling wizard – former Wesley Captain – A Mylvaganam – utilized as coach. In soccer, we clung on tenaciously to our reputation as a mercurial barefoot battalion, which included players of the ilk of M K Brantha, Lou and Vincent Adihetty and ERB Amarasekara (Snr), Wesley’s outstanding athlete and Senior Prefect, M.A.M.Sheriff won a place in the prestigious Ceylon contingent to the Empire Games, in Auckland, New Zealand – the only schoolboy in the team.

It would be an understatement to say that to have been at Wesley at the time, was a great privilege. The school community was a hive of vibrant activity. The library was well patronized, and books, and more books, read in pursuit of a spectrum of knowledge, as broad and varied as possible. There was laughter and happiness in the air, and a sense of comaraderie which was unvanquishable. Those of us who did not directly participate in an event, supported the school by their presence – a lucid demonstration of loyalty. Wesley, led by the Cartman – de Lanerolle duo, was a well integrated, happy family. I recall how a teacher was provided for Greek, when a single student indicated his desire to offer this subject, for the University of Ceylon, Entrance Examination. Such was Wesley’s concern for each and every one of us, at the time!

The Christian Union (later renamed the SCM) had a rich tradition of producing excellent plays under its aegis; as did, Wesley. The man behind the scenes was Kenneth de Lanerolle. I recall, vividly, the play, “AMOR CHRISTI” with Kenneth giving a warm and exciting rendition of the spiritual, “Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?” The audience was visibly moved so genuine was the pathos evoked. His rich bass-baritone voice rings in my ears even now, when I recall the play, staged over fifty years ago! Kenneth accompanied our singing at general assembly – a daily feature – playing the piano.

As an actor steeped in the UCDS (Dram Soc) tradition of E.F.C. Ludowyk, at the University College, Colombo, he excelled in whatever role he was cast. His English speech was refined and cultured.

I recall his lessons in the General English class (Upper Sixth) where a series of mini exercises, such as, “the cabbage bounded off the table”, were aimed at getting us to speak the words, correctly. We were required to (as a warm-up exercise, or prelude) to pronounce tricky works such as, recitative correctly, much to our merriment.

Kenneth was a balanced and harmonious personality, with the courage to be critical – always with good intent – when necessary. He was a rare gift to any educational institution, where the character of the child is moulded, and in so doing, rich and wholesome values inculcated, The latent talents of the individual were discovered and developed, to their fullest potential. The great versatility he displayed in the undertaking of such tremendous responsibility, for our growth and well-being, amazed us.

Ironical, paradoxical or, perverse, as it may seem, the “flaw” in this make up appears to have been the diverse talents he was gifted with. Too many , perhaps, for our little, mundane minds to comprehend. This made some resent him secretly, as his brilliance, exposed without intent, the pathetic inadequacy and mediocrity in some of us at times, even among those in authority over him. The attempts to keep him down to me was akin to trying to capture the wind, in a fishing net.

When reflecting on Kenneth’s life, I am strongly reminded of some of the lines from Bob Dylan’s lyric, Blowing in the Wind How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

I knew him during various phases of my life – as a student prefect; and much later, as his colleague on the Wesley staff. In the Fellowship of the Y’s Men’s Club of Kandy (Y’s Men International) and the Kandy YMCA; and as Principal of Wesley, albeit for a brief spell, in the winter of his life, when he was found eminently suitable, to pull chestnuts out of the fire, for the management! The negative and counterproductive manner in which he had often been manipulated and manoeuvred, over the years, enraged those of us who believed in his integrity and sincerity of purpose.

I would like to isolate a few lines, from some of his favourite psalms and hymns, to merely touch on Kenneth’s unrelenting belief in God; and the solace he would have received from such faith in Him. Like John Donne, he would have experienced the bitterness of despair, in endeavouring to forge ahead with his totally committed life as an “educator”. I would prefer the less pretentious word, teacher”

Breathe on me breath of God
Till I am wholly Thine;
Until this earthly part of me Glows with Thy fire divine”
“My table Thou hast furnished In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint
And my cup overflows”.

In Vietnam, he worked diligently and courageously, bringing solace to the traumatised youth of that country, devastated by a ridiculous and futile war clamped on them. He served equally conscientiously at Wesley (as Vice Principal, for seventeen years; much later, for a brief spell as Principal) at Kingswood and Carey, as Principal in the interim period; and on several National Educational Reforms Committees, focusing on the role of English, in particular; the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka; The YMCA Forum; The Ceylon Teachers’ Travel Club (when he organised an excellent tour of Soviet Russia) several music, drama and English speech (Elocution) groups, as well as his local church, and The Church of Ceylon, Diocesan Council.

Always unobtrusively, and characteristically, he helped many in need; very specially the poorest students at Wesley, who benefited from his munificence; with gifts of cricket boots, the Wesley cricket blazer (in a least one instance) spectacles, and running shoes, school uniforms, hockey sticks, Horlicks malted milk and Sanatogen!

His managerial skills were considerable and fundamentally “people” oriented. The rule was often obscured to focus on the human element.

Combined with his humane qualities, meticulous planning was his forte qualities much in need in Sri Lanka’s “public administration”. No contingency found him hence, Wesley stranded or flustered. He had the temperament to handle any situation with acceptance. I recall a sequence at Wesley’s 75th anniversary Prize Day, when Ceylon’s first Prime Minister, The Rt Honourable D.S. Senanayake, PC (Privy Counsellor) was delivering his address, as Chief Guest. Mr Senanayake suddenly felt sick and Kenneth de Lanerolle read out the rest of his speech with great confidence.

The advice we sought and joyfully received from him as 14th Colombo (Wesley) Scouts stood us in good stead. His advice always be prepared for the unexpected! Our camps in Bandarawela, Nuwara-Eliya, Horton Plain and Pidurutalagala, and at Buona Vista, by the sea, in Galle, were consequently most enjoyable and rewarding experiences. He never failed to visit us in camp and be one of us in experiencing the unparalleled joy of living close to Nature. His dear friend J.E. Silva, was Group Scout Master and this would have been a further incentive for him to be so supportive of scouting at Wesley.

As a disciplinarian, he displayed novel ways of “dealing with” miscreants. The deft movements of his scalp and formidable eyebrows scared the daylights out of the younger ones handed over to him for punishment for “misdeeds” such as sleeping in class! At times a deft pinch of one’s stomach reserved for the rebellious ones, with faint traces of silk-like fungi above their upper lip with attendant delusions of being cast in the image of Al Capone or Jesse James! quelled the most rebellious of them. The momentary pain had the intended salutary effect! seldom did he use the cane (when he did two strokes would suffice) and it was over quickly after he had deftly extracted 80 page exercise books inserted as padding to absorb the blows! His wise saws did the rest; and one returned exorcised of all richly imaginative thoughts, such as setting the school on fire, in order to “miss” a meeting of the Sinhala Literary Association, where one had been conscripted to speak on the evils of alcohol, or, to sing a string of pre-selected Kavi and elucidate the poets’ intention in each instance!

Some of these guys ended up as college prefects. Such was his gift of dealing with the rebel or nonconformist. To him it was “a growing-up process” not a crime. To be able to see the great potential behind what would be superficially termed a misdeed and conventionally a breach of discipline and to thereafter channel and nurture the potential for good in such young men, enriched them, greatly as well as the corporate life of the school, in consequence.

Kenneth was a graphic-artist, as well as the author of a few books, written in his leisure hours, the most significant being, Southern River. Here one gets an insight into his parental home, and his childhood at Matara, when the wholesome and simple pleasures of the country side enthralled a child.

Educated at the famous Richmond College, in Galle, he excelled in dramatics English language and literature music and elocution. He had as a young man also mastered the elusive art of theatrical “make-up”, transforming familiar faces into something rich, and strange.

The deft strokes of his brush, and his sensitive use of colour, produced brilliant posters. These were a few of his very special gifts, and we, his students, imbibed much of his dexterity, each according to his own talents and inclinations.

Kenneth de Lanerolle brought out the BEST in one.........

He is greatly missed by the many thousands who were influenced by him as a teacher, most extra ordinary; and a staunch friend.

He was with us, here, for a season; now above; and we pray, he is overwhelmed by the Peace and Tranquillity, he so richly deserved in life, now that his is no more with us, physically.

125th Anniversary Message from Revd. David S.T lzzett


Although it is more than half a century since I was Principal of Wesley I still have a very keen interest in what is taking place. This is helped by meeting a considerable number of Welseyites in the very energetic Society for Old Boys of the College in England. I attend the Annual General Meeting and Carol Services in London and last year my wife and I were kindly invited to be Chief Guests at the Annual Ball. Also it was our privilege to spend three weeks in Sri Lanka ten years ago as the guests of Dr. & Mrs. Lou Adhihetty and to live in the Principal's bungalow once again.

I was delighted to find the same spirit of unity of all ethnic groups which has been the characteristic of the school since it was founded. I was impressed by the fact that the number of pupils is now more than four times as many as it was in my days. Whilst with you we attended a meeting of the Christian Union, led by the pupils and the high quality of the leadership and witness is one of the outstanding memories of my visit. So 125 years have gone, but the future is now to be faced. I am sure that the College will continue to benefit the communities around it and play a valued part in the life of the country.

God Bless You

Revd. David lzzett

He was Principal of Wesley from 1941 to 1942. He now lives in retirement and sends this message from England. He was Chaplain to H. M. Forces and left in 1943.

Message From Mrs. Winifred Cartman

On the 125th Anniversary of the School

Photo: Mrs Winfred and Rev James Cartman

From Mrs. Winifred Cartman

I was so happy when Mr. Shelton Peiris, Editor, invited me to send in a message. In doing so I am taken back to those wonderful days, when James was the Principal of the College. I know he was so deeply involved in the welfare of the students taking such a personal interest in their studies and sports, and the development of the School. Wesley meant so much to him. I recall with nostalgia, the wonderful receptions, James and I were accorded in Batticaloa, Kandy, Tricomalee and in Colombo, not forgetting the visits to the Cultural triangle, on our re-visiting Sri Lanka in December 1982.

125 years is indeed a long stretch of time and no doubt we are thrilled to know of Wesley's progress and attainments. We are so thankful to God that James had so vital a part to play in post war Wesley. May I take this opportunity to wish Wesley the very best in the years ahead, and to improve on what she has achieved, mindful of the contribution Wesley has made over the long years, in your Nations development. Christine too, joins me in sending our best wishes on this occasion.

God bless you all ! Winifred Cartman

Rev. SAMUEL HILL (1879-1882)

1Samuel Hill, who was born in Lancaster on 8th December, 1853, became a missionary in 1878. He arrived in Ceylon a year later, succeeding Rev. Langdon as the principal of Richmond College. He did a distinctive service, specially in raising the standard of the school in the academic context. During his period, the boys of Richmond excelled in public examinations. It was on his recommendation as principal that the decision was taken by the District Committee of the Methodist Mission to rename the school as Richmond College. Rev. Hill has published a few books on English grammar. Professor D. M. De Z. Wickremasinghe, who was a famous scholar, was a pupil of Rev. Hill. He left Richmond in 1882 and for nearly two years did missionary work in Moratuwa. He also held the post of principal of Wesley College from 1884-85. Rev. Hill died in Colombo on 25th November, 1885

Dunstan Fernando by Shelton Peiris from the Centenary Souvenir

Even then, he was slight of build, but he had an iron will. He took a keen interest in sports, particularly cricket, but books and music lured him to their bosoms. And so the soft-voiced mild mannered youth was found in the company of Bach and Chopin. To this talented young man many a lucrative job was readily available, but he loved teaching, and so at the age of 23, after a very successful University career, he turned to that love and has for ever remained faithful to that high vocation. He first joined Richmond College Galle, where he remained for nearly 10 years, and in recognition of sheer devotion and initiative was appointed acting Vice-Principal.

He held this responsibility for 2 years and then proceeded to the United Kingdom, for post graduate training at the University of Birmingham, where he specialis- ed in the teaching of English language and 'Mathematics. Dunstan is indeed a gifted and a talented teacher. Another fact of his is that he is a good listener, and therefore a better judge of men and matters. He is a Lay preacher of the Methodist Church, and a Choir master of considerable experience. Dunstan is also a fine administrator. For 12 years Dunstan was serving as a Grade I Principal under the State, his last assignment being as Head of St. Aloysius' College Galle.

His deep and abiding spiritual values and his dedication to his Lord and Master, makes him eminently suited to hold positions of trust and confidence, particularly as a Youth Counsellor. Since his appointment as Vice-Principal of Wesley in March 1973, Dustan has unhesitatingly identified himself with the College much to the acceptance of both staff and students. Wesley as she enters her second Centenary is indeed fortunate to have a man as dedicated as Dunstan is. At the Centenary Prize-giving the Principal said "Mr. Dunstan Fernando our Vice-Principal has earned a warm place in the hearts of all by his hard work and devotion to his pupils." Gracious words indeed.

The Old Boys' Union has on a number of occasions voiced their appreciative recognition of Dunstan Fernando' s work, particularly in connection with the Centenary Celebrations of the College. They accept him as a man with a rich and rare experience. We extend to him our hand of Friendship and wish him and Mrs. Fernando, many happy years at Wesley.

Dunstan Fernando – A great teacher By Andrew Scott

A Tribute to Dunstan Fernando From Wesley College Past Teachers Fellowship

Daily News 27th July 2013

It is with profound sorrow that I pen these lines as a humble tribute to W.D.M. Fernando more popularly known as Dunstan Fernando, a wonderful teacher of the old regime whom I knew well throughout my collegiate career at Kingswood College, Kandy and later in life even as an adult who practised the same profession. I came to know him closely particularly when he came to Kingswood College to teach us English and Mathematics in the higher forms. Specially the senior students of Kingswood College had a great respect and an undiluted affection to this great teacher who was always looked up to as one of the gentlest teachers who was a live model to base one's life on. Dunstan Fernando joined the tutorial staff of Kingswood College after graduating and with a rich experience of teaching behind him and he gave a new lease of life particularly to the teaching of English and Mathematics in the higher forms. His pedagogical skills impressed his students very much and in later life many of his students specialised in these disciplines. He belonged to an active and dedicated band of noble teachers whose forte was to enthuse their students to improve their academic skills. In addition to his scholastic service he guided his students in several extra curricular activities thereby contributing appreciably to produce fully integrated citizens who turned out to be an asset to the society in which they live. For different periods of time he was the revered Principal of several schools that included Badulla Maha Vidyalaya, Sri Palee Horana, Carey and Wesley Colleges.

He taught us English and Mathematics and above all he taught us how to face life honestly and bravely surmounting all human failures. He was an educational stalwart with a golden heart who revelled in the success of his students and friends and was unruffled at all times. There were some prominent features in him which contributed immensely to his success as an excellent teacher and Principal and a much loved and respected human being with a common touch. His demise recently is a great loss to all who knew him and particularly to his former students spread throughout the country. Even though his physical body is no longer with us, his breathing spirit will thrust itself into the lives of those who came in contact with him constantly reminding the high ideals for which he stood throughout his life. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for his long and exemplary service, and memories of Dunstan Fernando's life rich with experience, wisdom and service will continue to echo for many more years. We extend our deepest sympathies to his devoted wife, beloved children and all other family members. May the Lord Bless his soul and grant him Eternal Bliss!

Dunstan Fernando - Wesley's Untiring Savant

Dunstan William Mervyn Fernando is back at Wesley's helm, once again, to steer her to stability, harmony and consistency. One is reminded of that Roman Senator, who on completion of his term of office, went back to mind hearth and fields, but was fondly recalled from plough and sickle to the Forum, when Rome was a-stir. "Retirement" and Dunstan are terms not co-existing. for to Dunstan "Retirement" is a very depressive word with inflections implying, withdrawal, retreat ebbing away all of which from a Christian's view-point, does not withstand the injunction "Go labour on, spend and be spent".

Way back in 1974 the Editor of the Centenary souvenir had given a pen-portrait of Dunstan as slight of built, but with an iron will, taking a keen interest in sports, particularly cricket, but books and music lured him to their bosom. And so the soft-voiced mild mannered youth was found in the company of Bach and Chopin. To this talented young man with his added flair for Maths, many a lucrative job was readily available, but he loved teaching Dunstan has had a chequered career as a teacher he was a Grade I Principal serving in many State Schools. We can write volumes on this gentleman His trust in God outshines all other virtues. The surgery that saved his life when in the States, was the result of prayer of the family friends and even strangers, headed by Wife Chintamani who is indeed a great spiritual muscle in Dunstan's life.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow


Dunstan's record at Wesley, is worthy of re-call. In the field of studies Wesley's success at the O/L English exam in 1994 gave much encouragement and recognition to the Staff Of the 202 students who offered English. 99 obtained Distinctions, 76 notched credits 20 Ordinary Passes with 7 failures. In a farewell column to Dunstan, Edmund Dissanayake, one of Wesley's revered Teacher now an Attorney-at-law, wrote "At Wesley he will always be remembered as a man who stood for principles, giving a new lease of life to education in particular, emphasizing the place for sport ... in respect of new admissions, perhaps in the past, the ability to pay may have played a major part, but Dunstan introduced a new criterion -"Quality'~ When Dunstan assumed office 1989 the pressing problem was accommodation.

He lost no time to roll up sleeves and with the assistance of his staff who worked to a man with him, and the students, effected extensions to the Herman Labrooy Block, and also installed the Rev. Daniel Henry Pereira Memorial building - incidentally Dunstan invited Mr. Marshal Perera to lay the foundation stone. It was also during Dunstan's term of office that the plaque in memory of Wesley's loyal friend Mr. K A Ranis Appuhamy was unveiled in September 1993 by him. Dunstan completed 50 years in the Ministry of Teaching and it was in May 1995 that a service of praise and thanksgiving was held in the New College chapel also built by Dunstan. On his taking up office Dunstan graciously accepted to be the Patron of the Past Teachers Fellowship, and pledged that he will encourage the interest of the PTF in relation to the school. No doubt both teachers and students and others working in Wesley will rally round Dustan as he prays and labours on, as he has accepted the challenge so that, in the course of time, we may all feel the exhilaration of victory, and of fulfilled dreams.

He opens wide the door to serve. Then go and labour on

Wesley 50 years back by Rev.John Dalby

From the Centenary Souvenir

Rev. JOHN DALBY (1939-1940) He was born in Leeds, England on 2nd April 1898. After graduating from Oxford University, he arrived in Ceylon in 1924 as the Vice Principal of Wesley College and in 1939 he was appointed as Principal of Richmond College. Mr. Dalby who devoted his entire life to the service of God and education passed away on 30th December 1989.

It was only six months after the 1924 Jubilee celebrations that I arrived at Wesley College to take up duties as Vice Principal. I was new to the country and to the job, and had much to learn under the guidance of Mr. Highfield, who was then in his thirtieth year as Principal. He left the Island in April 1925. More than once I heard him tell the epic story of his famous collecting tour, when he cycled round Ceylon gathering funds for the new Wesley College at Karlsruhe. Two of the senior masters on the staff when I arrived were Mr. C. P. Dias, the Headmaster and Mr. W. E. Mack, first assistant, both schoolmasters of the old school, but able teachers according to the standards of an older era.

There was also Mr. C. V. Honter, who proved quite a genius at working out the intricacies of the time- table. In the later twenties more and more trained teachers were recruited on to the staff, a particular benefit in the lower and middle forms. It was at this time, for instance, under the energetic principal ship of Mr. Hutchinson, that Mrs. Joyce Leembruggen was appointed head of the Kindergarten, a post which she held for many years until her retirement. Hundred of children must have benefited from the enlightened teaching methods instituted or developed by her and her assistants. Much good work was done in those days between forty and fifty years ago, and the fact that the medium of instruction was English probably did something to draw boys of different communities together.

On the other hand it cannot be denied that the mother tongues were neglected and this was a mistake which tended to widen the gulf between the secondary educated and the village people. In my first ten years in Sri Lanka we worked for the Cambridge Local Examinations, a pass with credit in the Senior exempting the candidate from Matriculation and thus facilitating entrance to a university, should a boy wish to aim so high. It was while I was Principal that Mr. P. H. Nonis, a junior master when I arrived, was appointed Vice Principal, the first Ceylonese I thoroughly approved. Years later I rejoiced when he became Principal.

The Wesley troop of Boy Scouts was under the charge of Mr. J. E. de Silva, while my wife looked after the Cubs in the garden in front of the old bungalow. As to other friends and colleagues of those days, some alas are dead, others have now retired after long and honourable service others are still serving their country in other walks of life. One such is Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle, one of the most able and progressive younger masters of my time and now responsible for religious broadcasting. I had the pleasure of meeting him in London and the pleasure two years ago What other memories come to mine In the days before I had a car I have often walked down Campbell Place to the Bo Tree And caught the tram to the Fort, looking at the 'Kadday s' on the roadside as it rumbled noisily along Maradana-or Marai dahn, as some of my old Colombo friend called it.

The Bo Tree shrine on Poya nights, lit up by dozens of little coconut lamps and the decorations of Buddhist homes at Wesak and Christian homes at Christmas, are all pictures that come before. As for sounds, so startlingly new at first but quickly becoming part of the background to everyday life, I hear the constant chirrup of the cicadas, the sharp call of the tree squirrels and the rustle of coconut leaves in the wind Other pictures that remain in the minds eye are the red flamboyant and yellow gold mohur trees along Slave Island and the beside Campbell Park and the one or two red cabook roads in residential Cinnamon Gardens before they disappeared under tarmac. I should like to think that amid all that has changed in modern Colombo some of the pleasing sights and sound still remain.

Affectionate greetings to all my old friends and may Wesley continue its service of true education to the people of Sri Lanka.

Rev John Dalby - Prisoner of War, Priest and Principal

Born in Leeds on 2nd April 1898 into a family whose Methodist roots went back to the days of John Wesley. After leaving school at eighteen he enlisted as a soldier in the First World War, was wounded, taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in Germany. After his release in 1919 he went first to Leeds University and then to Oriel College, Oxford, where he gained his MA. In 1924 the Wesleyan Missionary Society sent him to Ceylon where he became Vice-Principal of Wesley College, Colombo, and where he married Christine Raw, who loyally supported him in all his work. They had two daughters, Margaret and Rachel. From 1929 to 1940 John was Principal of Wesley, moving on to Richmond College where he also became Principal. In 1938 he was accepted for the ministry. He always looked upon his time in Ceylon as a period of great privilege and rich experience.

The Dalby family returned home in 1944 and John's first appointment was to the Lincoln (Aldersgate) Circuit, followed by a term in his native county at Pudsey, and then back to Lincolnshire to the Sleaford (Northgate), Lincoln (Central) and Coningsby Circuits. He retired in 1963 to Nettleham and continued to preach in and around Lincoln, becoming deeply involved in the life of the local Methodist Church where he was able to exercise his pastoral gifts to the full; for, scholar though he was, his great interest was always in people.

He loved the fellowship of his colleagues and in staff meetings and FK his gentle humour was always appreciated. When old age and failing eyesight brought limitations, John joined the family at Stones Place MHA. Always sturdily independent, he came to terms with dependence, discovering the truth of Milton's words, "They also serve who only stand and wait." No longer able to conduct worship himself, he loved to share in the services at the home. On Christmas morning just before his death he was in his usual place for Holy Communion; as he received the elements John said as always his firm "Amen", in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Such was the manner of his passing from us on 30th December 1989 in the ninety-second year of his age and the fifty-second year of his ministry.

Wesley College - In Retrospect by Cedric Oorloff

22I have been invited to write about my impressions of Wesley as I knew it in the fifties. This has not been easy, for record-worthy memories are multitudinous, and I do not know where to begin and where to end. For Wesley is not, never was, just a school, but a living, throbbing community, with its roots firmly established in the rich traditions of Christian living, its branches drawing in all the richness of its environment, its sap enriching the fine flower of young manhood, the country's true wealth audits hope for the years to be. For a hundred years now it has been flourishing, living out its high destiny, pressing ever on towards never static horizons for more than a hundred years really, for it was some years before 1874 that Rev. Daniel Henry Pereira had started the school in the Dam Street premises which was eventually absorbed in the school which came to be known as Wesley College.

All credit to him for the foundations on which, in the succeeding 75 years, a dozen ordained ministers of the Methodist Church built so firmly and so confidently. Outshining them all of course, was that grand old man, Henry Highfield, who controlled the destinies of the school for nearly half that period. And assisting in the task, and maintaining the pulse? of the rich strong blood of growth, were the unnumbered men and women who found God's work for them long years ago, when I was still a school boy, I had been haunted by a persistent longing for some sort of work, when I grow up, in some Christian school like Wesley when Wesley had celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, and Rev. Cartman had gone home to England, and I was invited to take the place, I remembered that great ambition my younger days and was thrilled that the opportunity had now come my way until I gave thought to the school and its noble traditions and great achievements, and to Highfield and the long line of distinguish men and women who had given their all. And then I was daunted, desperately daunted. It was only the realisation . Heaven was not going to let the schools from the many mistakes I was sure to make and that on the earthly level I had men like Basil Jackson and Daniel Niles to lean on, that gave me the courage to accept the invitation.

Photo - Mr and Mrs. CJ Oorloff

And so it was that, in 1950, I became involved in the life of Wesley College, where, eventually, my wife and I spent seven of the happiest years of our lives. During the period of the second World War the school had suffered much. The school building and its playground had been commandeered by the armed forces and, inevitably, much damage had been done. (Saddest of all was the damage done to the beautiful coloured glass windows of the main hall, one of the finest school hall? in the country.)

The school had had to be moved to unsuitable rented buildings. The roll had fallen to 150 Undaunted by these appalling difficulties, the Principals and their staff of Royal and courageous men and women had striven bravely and effectively to restore things to normal, and had succeeded. And when I took over from Rev. Cartman in 1950, the school was, in commercial parlance, a going concern. Its population had risen to 800, and there was on the staff again a band of experienced and dedicated men and women. ' The war was over, and the world was settling down to adjust itself to an uncertain peace and everywhere people were beginning find that peace had its problems no less pronounced than war. Nor was the world of education left to resume the even tenor of unfortunate direction, of this valid theory that education-was a part of politics resulted in its soon becoming a pawn in the political struggle. The-first step was fair enough.

The Government, in 1951, declared it would no longer grant financial assistance to what were known as Assisted Schools. These were, for the most part, schools founded and run by the churches and other religious bodies. They were to be allowed to continue independent of Government control if they decided they could finance themselves by levying increased fees. If they could not, they would have to enter the Government scheme, which meant that tuition fees would cease to be collected, that Government would meet the salary bill arid a part of the cost of maintenance of these schools, and that their managing bodies would, therefore, lose some of the independence they had enjoyed in the past.

The Methodist Church in Ceylon had an agonising decision to make. Should it keep order to enable them to meet their running costs, or should .it accept the Government offer and risk a loss of independence ? Much depended on the goodwill of the Government in power, on the generosity which it would exercise in the implementation of the provisions of the law. Assurances "that these would always be there came plenti fully from Government. I recall in particular the pressing invitation to me by the then Minister of-Education, a man of the greatest integrity, broad-minded and generous, to bring Wesley College into the Government Scheme. When I reminded him that the man who pays the piper calls the tune, and that independence was too precious a thing to be put in pawn, he drew my attention to the provision of the Act which enabled any school joining the scheme to withdraw if and when it felt it ought to. (Neither he nor I could foresee the mockery, time was to make of that particular provision?) I was not convinced, however, and pleaded with Management to keep the school out of the scheme, in order that it might retain its independence. How well I remember the debate in Synod that year over this issue.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow

Back and forth the arguments went, always on a very high level. About most of the Church's 'Schools there was no question but that they should throw in their lot with Government schools. They had ceased to be Christian schools in the true sense of the term, and the work of the Church would be more likely to be helped than hampered by their official dis-association from the Church. The debate revolved mainly around schools like Wesley and Methodist Colleges. The Synod, unable or unwilling to make a decision then and there, referred the matter to 'its Standing Committee.

There the decision was that the Church should accept the Government's assurance of goodwill at its face value and send all its schools into the scheme. ' At Wesley we accepted the management's decision loyally and preceded to work on the difficult problem of maintaining our independence of spirit while we co-operated with the requirements of Government. This was by no means an easy task. Our first difficulty was to find some way of eking out the somewhat inadequate ration of teachers allowed by Government. This we used to do by employing what were described as "excess" teachers, paid out of tuition fees. The only fee we were now allowed to collect was a paltry sum called the "facilities fees", which was supposed to be spent only on things like games and library we now had to limit our staff to the quota permitted by the Department. In any case it was extremely difficult to' collect even this small fee because although it was specially provided for in the Act, a ministerial fiat had gone forth that no sanctions could be employed against defaulters, so that even those who could well afford to pay, did not! In other ways too we were beginning to see what co-operation with the new educational bureaucracy meant. We were asked to send all our eighth graders for what was called a fitness test. Failures were to be diverted from academic streams to what were known as vocational training classes. But these tests were only in arithmetic and the candidates first and second languages.

It was hard to see how tests like these could prove a child fit or unfit for academic education. In the event it did not matter very much, because the tests were so simple, that in two years only two candidates from Wesley failed! Government soon realised the inadequacy of the tests for their purpose, and abandoned them! It was about this time that the Department sent out instructions that trained teachers should not be employed in primary classes. It was obvious to any thinking person that was where they were most needed, foundations being so important, and that, if there was a shortage of trained teachers, as indeed there was, it was not the primary classes that should be deprived of their services.

With remarkable lack of logic, the instructions .went on to say that the quality of teaching in th6se classes must not be allowed to deteriorate!- Simultaneously, again because the supply of teachers was inadequate, the age of admission was raised from 4 to 5. By a stroke of the pen the number of teachers required was reduced by thousands! As for the completion of the normal primary school course, it was argued that all that was required was that for each year of that course the child's burden of learning should be increased by a little more than one fifth each year. Whether this was to the child's advantage or not was not, apparently, '& matter for argument! In 1961 a new Education Act was passed.

This left untouched, schools which had chosen independence ten years before. But those Assisted Schools which had banked on the goodwill of Government and entered the Government scheme were now in a sorry plight they were told they must choose between becoming Government Schools entirely and continuing independent, but without any. financial assistance from Government and without any right to collect fees even to pay teachers' salaries! Nor would they be allowed to economise by reducing their staff or any of the facilities they had hitherto provided. They were asked to make bricks without straw! The right they had been given under the 1951 Act to resume independence at any time and without penalty, was removed with retrospective effect! In spite of these harsh terms some schools had the courage to stand out, preferring what at the time appears to be slow death, to the loss of all independence. Among those schools was I rejoice to say, Wesley. All other schools were taken over by Government, lock, stock and barrel. The buildings and the land on which they stood, were vested by ministerial fiat in Government. No compensation was paid.

Annual C. J. Oorloff Golf Challenge Trophy is held in Melbourne between Wesley College Colombo and Trinity College Kandy.




The difficulties that Wesley College had to face after the Act of 1951, and in a much greater degree, after the Act of 1961 were, in human terms, insurmountable, but the faith and -courage of the men and "women respon- sible, in the Church and in the school, did not flag. Oraverunt, laboraverunt: Dominus Adstitit, The continuing and effective existence of the school in the face of so much -adversity is the noblest possible tribute to the spirit of the school. As I look back, it is this spirit inherent in the school, and inspiring all who come under its influence, that thrills me more than any- thing else. That spirit is not something one can dissect and classify. It can only be felt and caught. It pervaded the school in its every-day life. In some way that I cannot analyse, my own life was greatly enriched by the years I spent there. The spirit of Highfield was always present, personal and palpable. And it was these spiritual and personal relationships with past and present that made 'the significant difference to me and to all who had to do with the school.

The spirit of camaraderie among the staff, the easy relations between staff and boys, the conviction- among all that school life was not just a training for employment but a preparation of the young to live with and for others under the- inspiration of something outside them- selves and greater than themselves, "forgetting their selfish being for joy of beauty not their own''-these were what made the school, and continue to. make it. In retrospect a schoolmaster's life is always romantic. But not in retrospect only. There are times in the working life of a schoolmaster when teaching tends to become drudgery-when there are 40 exercise books to be marked daily for five days a week', for instance, or hundreds of papers to be market by a given date at examination time, or piles of reports to be assessed and signed all together on the last day of term. But that is only a small fraction of his life.

The most part and the best of it is the daily experience of the wonder and the fascination of human relationships, the thrilling challenge of young people, all children of God. and therefore your brothers, with open hearts and enquiring minds, all eager to learn how to look at life how to live, their lives in fellow- ship with men, how to direct their pilgrimage to the goal of living. The wonder of it and the glory of it persist long after the time comes for us to hand the torch to others. - For me personally, there is no greater comfort in the evening of my life than the reflection that I too have had the high privilege of having been a teacher. Laus Deo. The end.

From his time at Trinity College

When the previous Principal, Mr.Walter, began to feel that is was time for him to return to England, his first task was to ensure a suitable succession. His choice fell on Mr. C.J. Oorloff, at that time, Principal of Wesley College, Colombo.

Mr.Oorloff was, of course, no stranger to Trinity. Although he went to school at Royal he had been born and brought up almost within our precincts. On graduation Mr.Oorloff came home, as it were, when he joined the staff in 1930; but unfortunately, like so many after him, he could not resist the lure of the Civil Service, a decision which we suspect he probably regrets except perhaps, for a nostalgia for Hambantota which he shared with another Civil Servant, the late Mr. Leonard Woolf. His broken connections with Trinity were, however, somewhat renewed when he married the sister of three brothers who were Trinitians.

Photo - Trinity College Kandy

In 1949 Mr.Oorloff quit the Civil Service, though well on the way to becoming a Permanent Secretary, to accept the post of Principal of Wesley. There he spent seven fruitful and happy years before succumbing to the temptation of returning at last to his real home.

Mr.Oorloff's period of office as Principal of Trinity is the second longest in the history of the school, second only to that of Mr.Fraser, whose era was, however, nearly twice as long. These years were years of consolidation after the frantic pace that had been set by Mr.Walter. Trinity settled down to a quiet and sound if unspectacular progress which carried the school through on an even keel despite all the political and educational upheavals of the time. When Mr.Oorloff handed over the school to Mr. Lionel Fernando on the first of October, 1968 he handed over a school that was slowly but surely adjusting itself to the new conditions.

Mr.Oorloff's chief strength lay in a quiet, dignified integrity that was probably the most desirable characteristic that a Principal needed in times like his. No bitter involvement in raging controversy, no rash commitments, no yielding to public hysteria but an unobtrusive guidance in the right direction-this was, with the courage of his convictions, Mr.Oorloff's way, not hurriedly to jettison past traditions merely because they were under fire but to preserve what was best in them while gradually adapting them to the new demands. In this way, for example, the language medium revolution was completed but English was not abandoned; the teaching of other religions was introduced but the school remained unapologetically Christian.

For Mr.Oorloff this last was his first concern. He was a man of deep and abiding but not ostentatious faith and it is fitting that through his efforts the most beautiful part of the school is that which surrounds the Chapel whose tower he was chiefly instrumental in building.

Links to further reading

The Saint of Karlsruhe by K.M.de Lanerolle

s3Some years ago I stood with a dear friend, who knew Highfield well on the lawn of the historic home of Charles Ambrose Lorenz. Now the Principal's bungalow, Wesley College. He called it "KARLSRUHE" Charles Rest, for here he spent the evening of his life. It 'was also here that Henry Highfield, most beloved of Wesley's headmasters, presided over the destinies of a great school for, so long and memorable years. It was evening, buses rumbled quietly along Baseline Road, someone was playing a Chopin prelude far away. We paused, my friend and I, under a sturdy flamboyant tree which had taken root on the boundary that a former occupant of the Vice Principal's house had planted, perhaps to stake a claim to a part of the garden.

Were it not for this house and for the flats at the far end of the premises, Karlsruhe would have been exactly as it was in Highfield's day. Sheltered by the two arms of an L which comprised the school he built, this high-roofed house, with its wide verandahs and period screens looks out serenely southward across a lawn and extended garden, where the attikukula forages undisturbed and you may still discover rare parasites and the sathay creeper. Hallowed by history, it could tell many a brave tale of kindliness and of forbearance of industry and grit, of good cheer and simple fun, of courage and endurance, of the joy that comes from work well done.

We drank in the quiet evening and thought our own thoughts. At times we conversed, conjuring shadows from the past. I told of my pilgrimage to Pickering in 1952 and how the Grand Old Man had surprised me by turning up, in spite of his 87 years, at the terminal. At Crabtree I saw him in his home. We did not talk of Wesley much it was enough that we both loved the school. I was content to see him amongst his books and memories of rugger and cricket at Kingswood in Bath and of his father, a missionary in India. His first teacher of his colleagues and friends, now long dead of his full life at Pickering and the subject of his next sermon.

lt was my companion who said that to have known Highfield was to have known the meaning of greatness. He delighted in simple things. At the age of 87 he was writing to a friend in Ceylon "our spring flowers are coming out- Aconites which some call February Buttercups and when unopened look like balls of butter resting upon crimped green plates of leaves also Crocuses, purple arid gold, and Snowdrops." He abounded in energy. A push-bike was his chief means of transport both in Ceylon and in England, Where he lived for 30 years after Wesley College. The story of how he

travelled through the length and breadth of Sri Lanka on his bicycle and collected

Rs. 38,000/- to which the Methodist Mission at home (somewhat reluctantly, honouring a promise) added Rs. 190,000 'is like a fairytale and is told with relish to successive generations of Wesleyites. P.H. Nonis relates one of the best stories connected with the Bi-centenary celebrations of Kingswood, Bath, at which an Old Boy, scorning the buses provided, walked up Landsdown Hill. It was none other than Revd. Highfield, who was 83 at the time! His energy was not limited to the physical plane. A missionary, on his return home, often fades into oblivion; but to Highfield each post, whether it was in the industrial Midlands, the wilderness of Wales or the coast Of Cornwall, was a challenge.

Writing in 1929 to a friend in Colombo, he says: "I do not-know where I shall be appointed next, but am not troubled. There is good work to do anywhere. Not only did Highfield delight in simple things, he was himself a simple man, simple and forthright, with no axe to grind. His life was an open book. When the Staff at the Pettah Branch once fell out, he told, them. "Gentlemen, if you cannot manage the affairs of' a ·small school harmoniously, how can you manage your country when you become independent?" Highfield's tolerance towards other faiths is illustrated by a Buddhist(Dr.Adikaram), who writes: "Rev. Highfield was a deeply religious man, but he never tried to convert pupils of other faiths to his convictions" and by a Muslim A. M. M. Ismail who relates how he readily granted Muslim boys leave to attend Jumma Prayers at the Mosque on Fridays. S. Ratnakaran asserts of his ministry : "There was nothing narrow, sectarian or circumscribed..,.. . . ... . . . His talks and conversations made me a better Hindu.It is good to know, in these days when Heads of schools are becoming mere administrators that Highfield was in his happiest mood when teaching.. Some of the most lasting impressions of the man are, his pupils say, those of him in the classroom.

Addendum by Dr.N.D.Amerasekera with an excerpt from a daily paper.

Karlsruhe gardens was owned by Charles Ambrose Lorensz:- The Burgher intelligentsia in the 1860s was led by a young man who hailed from Matara - Charles Ambrose Lorensz. Being a brilliant lawyer he was popularly known as the "morning star of Hulftsdorp". Together with a group of young Burghers like Leopold Ludovici, Francis Bevan, Samuel Grenier and James Stewart Drieberg they produced a leading local literary journal called Young Ceylon. In 1859 Lorensz and a syndicate purchased the Ceylon Examiner which became the first Ceylonese newspaper. Until his death in 1871, at the age of forty two, Ambrose Lorensz wielded the powerful influence of his pen for social reform, championing democratic causes and courageously criticising the British colonial government, the Governor and his Executive Council.

On looking back by P.H.Nonis

a4Boys came to Wesley from all parts of the country some even from India. Manifestly the school must have had a very considerable reputation. Further proof of this is afforded by the fact that in many cases boys came from towns in which competing schools had existed for many years. How fast the years fly! It only seem as few years ago that Wesley celebrated her Golden Jubilee. And yet it was 50 years ago! But when I think of the many changes the years have brought it is easy to realise the lapse of time- - I had the privilege of participating in the celebrations during those days in 1924- Friday February 29 to Monday March 3.

The highlight of the festivities was the Jubilee Prize Giving presided over by the Officer Administering the Government, the Hon. Cecil Clementi. With him accommodated on the platform were Revs. Henry Highfield (Principal) Rev. P. T. Cash, Rev. A. E. Restarick (Manager), Rev. W. S. Senior, the Hon. James Peiris, the Hon. A. H. M. Abdul Cader, Mr. Oliver Goonetilleke, Mr. C. P. Dias (Headmaster) and Mr. W. E. Mack: (Senior Master); the rest of the Staff were seated in the body of the Hall along with the visitors. The Chief Guest, in concluding his address, said that when the time came for Mr. Highfield to lay down his office, he could do so with the full assurance that the future of the College was secure and that it would prosper increasingly so that fifty years hence, when the time came for the Centenary Celebrations 6f the College, it would surpass the Golden Jubilee.

It was in July 1918 that I joined Wesley as a student and with five others was placed in Highfield's Sixth Form. My earliest memory of him is that of an indefatigable worker and a born teacher. He taught over 20 hours a week, about 15 of which he devoted to the Sixth Form students, teaching them English Literature, Latin and Greek in the little room the North Tower. Highfield had neither a school nor office nor a typist. Quite early in the morning he would sit at his Jak table on the verandah and attend to his correspondence, school accounts and registers, or interview those who came to see him. V.S.Jayawickrema was in charge of the Form Mathematics in 1918. He had in his day won the Ceylon Mathematics Prize. He eventually entered the legal profession and at the end of his career was appointed Minister of Justice.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow


Jayawickreme was succeeded by S. J. V. Chelvanayakarn, B. Sc. When he came to be interviewed for his appointment he met me and asked me to take him to Mr. Highfield. He had such a young face that I asked him if he wished to join Wesley (meaning as a student,) he answered in the affirmative. When he gave his first lesson, in Maths neither of us was able to resist a smile after the previous day's incident. He was Senior Hostel Master and later Head of the Science Section. A man of high ideals, he was a popular teacher. Throughout the first fifty years of her history, Wesley was fortunate to have the service of C. P. Dias as Headmaster. He was a public figure in the country - the Senior City Father and one whose counsel was often sought by political leaders of the day.

His pupils remember him as a vigorous teacher of English and Latin and as a stern disciplinarian. He was a true friend to his boys and knew their homes and families. On these long walks in the evenings for which he was famous, he found time to look up the parents of the boy, If he was in his evening walks, one would find him at Kanatte acting as a pallbearer at a funeral: I believe he found this depressing in later years, for he had expressed the wish that his own funeral there will be no pallbearers nor flowers - the first time I had read of such a request in a funeral.

Then there was W. E. Mack, who was also drawing towards the end of his long and distinguished career, but still majestically Strode the corridors immaculately dressed, knife-edged trousers, coat and black waist Coat. He arrived in school with a felt hat on His head and a rolled-up umbrella in his Hand. Mack will be remembered for the Lessons he gave the fifth Form in Shakespeare, Latin, History and Arithmetic. In 1919 when Mr. Highfield was away on Furlough, Mack took charge of the Sixth Form Latin. C. V. Hunter, an Old Boy, was also an Efficient teacher with Upper forms and yet Another good disciplinarian, his subjects Being English, Latin and Greek. Tragically, Within a few weeks of his appointment as Headmaster he suddenly died of a heart Attack.

One of my earliest acquaintances among my schoolmates was Daniel Alwis, the Senior Prefect, who commanded great respect in the school. He was also the Secretary of the games club. At our first meeting he invited me to attend Cricket practice on the eve of our Annual 2nd XI Match against S. Thomas' College, of which the Wesley team had already been selected. After the practice Daniel put me in the team, replacing one already chosen. No one dared to question' the Senior Prefect's decision. Thereafter I kept my place in the 1st XI and many were the games I enjoyed.

Caricature of Mr PH Nonis drawn by M.B Wickramasinghe of 6th Form (Sc)


I hope I shall not appear boastful when I say that I count it an honour to have captained the cricket team of Wesley, and that I am proud of the century I scored in 1921. Cricket was played with a good deal of keenness and every encouragement was given to the team by the members of the staff. There was none more enthusiastic than the Principal himself. Mr. Highfield used to watch the games on the boundary line, at the same time keeping the vast crowd behind the line. ' For many years Eric Gunasekera was the cricket coach. As a batsman he used his height to advantage and whomever he gave the -team fielding practice it was an effort for him to keep the ball within the boundary. I started teaching in September 1924 - before Institutes of Education were the fashion-and was thrown straight into the water to learn to swim.

There was neither a salary scale nor a pension scheme for teachers at that time. Within a week of my joining the Staff, John Dalby, later Revd., arrived as our new Vice Principal. He was our first Oxonian: It was a joy for me to work with him at Wesley during the next 15 years. Highfield, Wesley's greatest Principal, left the shores of Sri Lanka in April 1925. I cannot forget his parting words to the many Wesleyites gathered at the Colombo Jetty : "Goodbye. I do not expect to see you again, unless some of you come to England." His successor had already left England and was at that moment on the way-Rev. Albert Hutchinson, B. A., B.D. It was an unexpected joy for my family to welcome Mr. Highfield at our flat in London in the spring of 1948. He put me at ease, making me feel that he was no longer my teacher, but a friend, while we chatted late into the night reviving old memories and exchanging stories of Wesley. Once or twice he broke down. Hutchinson arrived in April 1925 with his wife and two children. Soon there was a third child, a son, who was named Michael Wesley .

Every new Head of a school is faced with difficulties on taking up his new duties and the fact that Hutchinson had to succeed a manlike Highfield made his task doubly difficult He was appointed to reorganise, to innovate and to put fresh life into a school which needed a younger man at the helm. Numbers increased and to meet the need for additional accommodation the Kindergarten and Junior School blocks were built.

The Chemistry Laboratory was fitted with work benches and the ground floor of the South Wing was fitted with tables and shelves to form the Physics Laboratory. In 1929 John Dalby was appointed Acting Principal and was eventually confirmed as Principal. He soon won the love and respect of the staff and pupils. Dalby never pretended to be a disciplinarian of the stern type, but during the nine or ten years of his Principal- ship there were no problems of discipline. He was able to carry through several reforms for which he is remembered - the Teachers' Guild, a Staff-Room, a school uniform and a Chapel. Every man, even if his work is as absorbing as was our work at Wesley, must have his private life. In 1933 I got married and in due course two sons were born to us. We have happy memories of our first home, the Vice- Principal's house, which we occupied for over eight years, until it was commandeered by the military authorities in 1942.

My wife, along with Mrs. Dalby, was able to work for-the welfare of the School in various ways. The present ground and the sports pavilion were taken over by Wesley in 1940. Some of the more successful cricketers during this period were H. A. Sahabandu, R. Jeganathan, Henry Van Buuren, M. Sathasivam, H. N. Duckworth, I Walbeoff, S. N.Nagendra and J. A. A. Perera. In 1941 David lzzett took up the reins of office as Principal with real enthusiasm, but unfortunately the war situation in the East grew worse rapidly and early in 1942 Sri Lanka was threatened with a possible Japanese raid. When the school reopened in January 1942 barely 300 boys were seen in this classroom. Readouts other than those in essential services were advised to leave Colombo.

The government was administered by a British Admiral as Commander in-Chief, who was assisted by a Civil Defence Commissioner- in the person of Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, who was the President of the Wesley O.B.U. , No specific arrangements were made for the schooling of pupils who were displaced.

A few of them joined schools in the provinces but the majority remained at home. The Principal went in charge of Kingswood College as Acting Principal and the Vice- Principal moved into a bungalow in Rosmead Place with all the office equipment. The school buildings and personnel survived the Japanese raid on April 5, 1942. In early May Wesley reopened at Carey College at Kynsey Road. The Vice-Principal and two masters had to teach and look after 40 boys. Numbers began to increase, but very slowly. The first Ceylonese to preside at a Prize Giving was Sir Gerard Wijekoon; he was followed by Sir Baron Jayatilleke, Sir Claude Corea, Sir Macan Markar and Sir Oliver Goonetilleke all distinguished Wesleyites. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike came to judge A Reading Contest: Dr. N. M. Perera, Leslie Goonewardene and Philip Goonewardena were guest Speakers at the Senior Literary Association. In August 1942, David lzzett was asked by the management to return to Wesley and I was appointed Principal of Kingswood College.

When I took. charge of Kingswood in September 1942, I did not expect even to return to Wesley. I Remember the remarks of a missionary colleague that "it's best to live in Kandy if you've got to live". In 1957 the Wesley Governing Board (created in 1947) requested the management to appoint the Principal, and. so I found myself back at my old school and this time occupying the large house which was the home of the Highfield's for nearly 25 years. I was conscious of the' special honour for one to be called to the Headship of his old school. Returning after 15 years, one had to be prepared to the changes. I should like the reminiscences to stop at this point without any reference to my last period as Principal. The main impression left on my mind throughout my long association with Wesley was that of a school which produced efficiency, whether in the classroom, on the cricket field or in Cadet Camps. Wesley always maintained a fine standard.

Wesley College- The present and future by A.S.Wirasinghe

11In 1961 the Methodist Church in Ceylon had a very important decision to take in the life of Wesley College. Should, she be handed over to the Government to become a State school or should the Church continue her as a private and unaided institution ? During the long discussion of the problem it was pointed out that financing the school would be very difficult as she had lost the right to levy fees by joining the Free Education Scheme in 1955. Would the school lose through not being in the mainstream of educational provision for the country, and was it fair, some asked, that some should have to bear such a heavy burden when free education was provided by the State! There was also the risk that the school would forget her 'pilgrim' role in the rapidly changing society of our day. On the other hand there was the over- powering desire that the school should be 'free' in the broader sense of the word-free to choose her teachers, free to determine her policy within the broader policy of the State and free from too much central control which could cause the loss of her complete identity. In the end the Church decided that Wesley should remain private and unaided. It was a bold decision, taken with great faith and courage. The way ahead would be one where success could be gained only by patience, hard work and great personal sacrifice and devotion on the part of many.

Finance has ,been and continues to be one of the school's greatest problems. Aid has been received from time to time from the World Council of Churches, the Methodist Church in England, the Church of Finland and from friends in America and Australia. In the early sixties Revd. Fred S. de Silva, then president of the Methodist Church in Ceylon proved an inspiring manager and friend. It is however realised that the main burden must necessarily fall on the parents of boys presently in school while Old Boys of the College, will help in every possible way. The Wesley College Welfare Society has done magnificent work for the last twelve years. The fine tone and high standards set by its earliest Presidents-The late Mr. Merrill Siriwardena and Mr. Herman Labrooy, have continued ever since. An enthusiastic Standing Committee and tireless secretaries and treasurers like Emile Loos, Freddie de Mel, Ricka Koch and Cecil Wikramanayake have been its greatest mainstay. Every precaution, has been taken to prevent the school from becoming over isolated.

Here our past traditions have been of the greatest help. Wesley has been a place where the richest and the poorest have been treated as equals. .Her doors have always remained open to every racial community - Sinhalese and Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Chinese. While Christianity is the religion of her foundation, the school continues to draw great strength from Buddhist, Hindu and Mohammedan. She has never stood for separation of any kind and in the classroom. laboratory, workshop, music and art-room and on the playing field every opportunity in taken to bring the various strands of our total community together. Wesley has remained comparatively small. While this has made competition with some of the gigantic schools of Colombo increasingly- singly difficult in games, Wesley has continued to produce sons who are found in all our national teams-Cricket, Rugger, Hockey and Swimming in particular. The very young reigning National Champion in badminton is a Wesleyite. Gains in other ways have been immeasurably great. Through a very elaborate- rate scheme of supervision it is the privilege of every boy at Wesley to, be known, recognised- and valued as a 'person' by many more than just his immediate class teacher and friends. Discipline therefore comes so much easily and there is real community in the life of the school. The sense of belonging has been remarked by boy after boy and this is fostered at every step. There is no right the head of a school would more carefully' guard and cherish than his right to choose his staff. We note with joy that this right has been restored to some of the heads of State 'schools in recent times. Wesley today has a staff of which any school may justly be proud.

Pupil teacher ratio have been very favourable, particularly in the higher sections of the school Hardly a year goes by without one or sometimes two completing 25 years' service, at Wesley. In the recent past Miss. Iris Blacker, Mrs.S. E.G. Perera, Messrs. Charles de Silva, John Vethanayagam, Wilfred Wickremasinghe and A. V. Gunaratnam have completed their coveted tally. In January this year Mr. Edmund Dissanayake made up his sum. It is indeed a pity that Mr. Felix Premawardene, Mrs. Sheila Wijekoon and Mr. V. R. Robert had to leave when only short of it. The death of Mr. Eric de Silva has left a great void .in the office where he worked in his own unobtrusive manner for 36-years. Nor can we forget the loyalty of men like Ranis, Wilbert, Silva and Rodrigo. Marshall Perera has taken the place of Ranis and in devotion to duty is no second to that name. Wesley has been fortunate too in her Vice Principals. During his long connection with Wesley Mr. Aelian Fernando gave of his very best and continues to do so through the Old Boys' Union and as a member of the Governing Board. Mr. Charles de Silva as Acting Vice Principal demonstrated how far friendliness and a serene personality can help in administration.

In her present Vice Principal, Mr. Dunstan Fernando, the school has gained a man of great experience and a good teacher. It is only a pupil who can best say what Wesley means to him in the 1970's. He will not fail to note the friendliness of the place, the joy and fellowship that abounds both among the boys and the staff and the ready accessibility of all those who are in positions of authority. School assemblies are not the drab affairs they can so often become. Variety and student participation have been introduced in every possible way. The world at large comes into Wesley on Wednesdays when our boys' horizons are widened by speakers drawn from every walk of life. Fridays are eagerly awaited for the S. C. M. contributions which has been rich in humour and action... The Founder's Day Service is very im- pressive, beginning with a Ceremony of Colours to the inspiring rhythms of Hoist's music from the Planets Suitee. The Inter- House cross-country race always a popular event with 40 runners from the House. is followed by a rumbustious Staff Boys soft- ball cricket match and lunch for cricketers and runners-all in the friendliest of spirits. Prize Day have been memorable, with stimulating addresses from Professor Hilary Crusz. Mr. Reggie Siriwardene, Mr. Cedric Oorloff, Al Haj Dr.Badiuddin Mahmud the Hon'ble Minister of Education and the Metropolitan Archbishop, Dr. Lakdasa de Mel.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow

The Junior School Variety Entertainment brings over 500 young people on the stage each year and parents are treated to .music, song, dance, poetry, mime and ballet, with decor by Jayantha Premachandra and choreography by Basil Mihiripanne both full time members of our staff and each with an international reputation. ' At the close of each year is our Carol Service held at St. Luke's Church, Borella, where the congregation is treated to carols and varied readings, old and new, drawn from many lands. The Choir, trained by Mr. Haig Karunaratne. has invariably been very good and light and colour have added greatly to the enjoyment of their offering. Difficult. to forget are the performances of Monroe Reimers in Christopher Fry's play, . The Boy with a Cart' and Neil Obeysekera as the Chorus in 'A Christmas Opera'. Unforgettable also are those two occasions on the cricket field earlier, when Wesley beat St. Joseph's and Royal in the last ball of the day. Rodney Perera hitting a winning boundary over the head of the wicket keeper with a stroke found in no cricket book in the world, and the last Royalist almost treasona- bly stepping in front of the straightest of balls to give us the Sir Frank Gunasekera Shield in the very first year of its presentation ! And now the Future.

It is with joy and pride that we celebrate our Centenary in the fullest dimensions of freedom. There will, perhaps, be many changes in the years before us. But a hundred years is a firm foundation on which to build and the first storey has had its fabric strengthened and. enriched by the thoughtfulness, prayers and work of so many great and good men from the time of our founder, Revd. Daniel Henry Pereira, and our greatest Principal, Revd. Henry Highfield. A Governing Board in close touch with the school and the staff, a loyal and enthusiastic Old Boys' Union, a fine Parent Teachers' Association and good friends have pledged their support. The staff plans a School of Technology for the very first batch of students who will take the National Certificate in General Education in 1975. It is therefore with confidence that we face the future. The scallop shells of the pilgrim will be our support in that unknown sea, Ora et Labora our mainsail and the Cross our guide. It is to the hills that we shall lift up our eyes. From whence shall come our help ? "Tis Jesus the first and the last, Whose spirit shall guide us safe home, . We'll praise Him for all that is past, And trust Him for all that's to come".

A letter from the Rev.James Cartman for the Centenary Celebrations

I have been delighted to learn of the Centenary celebrations planned for 1974. Both Mrs. Cartman and I send our joyous congratulations. We would both have loved to share this occasion of thanksgiving with Wesleyites, past and present, as you all gather in the familiar College surroundings. A centenary is a notable achievement. As in the life of an individual, there is much more to commemorate than what the world may acclaim as success. During these hundred years, Wesley College has had its share of eminent success, but it is impossible to measure all those 'many other achievements which have come by the idealism it has inspired by the community spirit it has engendered- and by its faith in God and man. Sri Lanka has every right to give thanks for, as well as to be proud of, such an institution that has so faithfully and splendidly served so many of its children and young people. For five years, a comparatively short time, it was my privilege to be the principal of Wesley College. After a five-years term of service at Batticaloa and Kalmunai in the Eastern Province, I arrived at Wesley early in 1945 just as World War II was drawing to a close. The College was then accommodated in property known as Kittiyakkara in Campbell Place. My heart sank when I first saw it. Overcrowding in poorly equipped sheds and buildings had seriously affected standards of discipline and academic work. More than three years of exile had made distressing marks upon a much highly reputed institution.

My first task was to get Wesley back to Karlsruhe, to recover, from the military authorities, the College premises and playing fields, to carry out extensive repairs and to make the whole place suitable once more for a school community. In December, 1945, all this work had been done, and it was a joyous day when, walking in a festival-like procession, teachers and children took a happy leave of Kittiyakkara and returned to Karlsruhe. We were home again. . The second task was to lay the foundations for the future. Rehabilitation itself was a sufficient challenge, but we were called upon to take into account two further demands upon our resources. First, there was the introduction of the Mother Tongue Media of instruction requiring three streams: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. Then, we faced with a sudden increase in numbers; within three years, the total number of children more than doubled. To meet all these needs, we required a larger staff and considerably more equipment. Many of the existing teachers remained loyal, but many new young teachers, both men and women, were introduced. My task was to find them" to encourage them and to give them, as far as was possible, the tools to do the job.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow


Time was needed for their integration into the life of the College, but over the subsequent years, they proved their great worth. Some impatient critics of the school at that time expected 'instant' success, but those were days when, by this new and expanding staff, the foundations were being laid for the future. Wesley began to build again and was soon a team to be reckoned with. The third task coming towards the end of my stay at Wesley, was the celebration of the 75th anniversary. Perhaps this occasion was the first fruit of the previous years of hard work, the result largely of a staff that more and more responded to the opportunities provided by our corporate life together. I forget now the final figure, but something like Rs. 35,000 was donated and collected for the new extensions, classrooms, science laboratory and library. What a remarkably happy occasion that anniversary was for all of us! Teachers students, Old Boys and friends, whose support and encouragement had helped to re-make Wesley, all shared joyfully in the celebrations.

My fourth task was a difficult personal decision. Independence had been given to Ceylon. In every walk of life, sons of Ceylon were talking over control and responsibility.. Ceylon had chosen its first three ambassadors and all three were old students of Wesley College. Had not the time come for a son of Ceylon to take over the direction of Wesley itself? I came to believe that, however much I would like to continue for another period, the time was ripe for Wesley to have its first Ceylonese head. It was a difficult decision, but looking back over a quarter of a century, I see now, even more clearly, that the decision I reached was indeed the right one.. Since returning to England, our life has brought many changes that we could not have anticipated. For six years, at the request of the !ate Rt. Hon. Mr. D. S. Senanayake, I continued to work for Ceylon students as Education Officer at the High Commission in London. Then, as an Anglican priest, I spent three happy years as Chaplain to the British community in Oporto, Portugal: An interesting life which included a teaching commitment at the British School. I returned to Gloucestershire and became a parish priest.

Eventually, however, I was drawn back more fully into educational work, first at Pate's Grammar School, Cheltenham and later at Hereford. I am now in my eighth year at the College of Education, Hereford, a principal lecturer and head of the department of religious studies. So I have continued to enjoy my work among young people. All my present students are preparing for the teaching profession. My wife, who seems to defy age more successfully than I, remains just as active as ever she was at Wesley. She certainly has always filled the role of an 'unpaid curate', but she has found much joy and satisfaction in the many-sided service she has given. Christine, our daughter, an old Wesleyite herself, who, as a child, used to climb the trees in front of the principal's bungalow, has now been married for over eleven years. Her husband, Michael Weaver, is a principal scientific officer in Government service. They have three children (and we, three grandchildren): David James (seven years), Andrew John (four years) and Katherine Jane (born on 25th August of this year). We all join in sending our very good wishes to Wesley College for the Centenary celebrations and for its further success and progress in the second century of its life and work. May the great vision of its founders, of those who have shared in its tasks and community during these one hundred years, continue to inspire and sustain all who will now and in the future, be called upon to serve her and to further her usefulness. With deep thankfulness to God for all that is passed and with hope and expectation for all that is to be.

A Message from Rev.William A Holden

For the Centenary Celebrations

Rev. William A. Holden, presently of Glastonbury, Somerset, who succeeded Rev.izzett as Principal of Wesley, wrote the following letter to Mr. Shelton Peiris in response to a request for a message to the Wesley Centenary Souvenir.

Photo: Rev. Holden with Mrs.Holden and their son in 1960


Dear Mr. Peiris
Thank you for your letter dated 9th July, reminding me of the Centenary of Wesley College, and inviting me to contribute to the Souvenir being planned. First, a word of congratulation to the staff, the students past and present and the parents for the splendid efforts made by them to maintain the College as an independent Christian educational institution. One cannot begin to reckon the influence for good of' Wesley' upon the life of Sri Lanka for it has been immense. I am glad and grateful that I was privileged to be its Principal even though for a short term. Then, I must share with readers an incident that took place a few years ago. I had been admitted to a North London Hospital for surgery and was visited by the House doctor. As we talked I learned that he was from Ceylon, that he had been a scholar during my term of office. He remembered me. He remembered how once when we were having open air assembly in the temporary buildings a coconut fell and missed me by inches'. However, once he knew who I was, no kindness was too much for him. His name was Mr. Meeran. I have since lost touch with him but should he read this I hope he will remember and accept my gratitude. I am sorry 'this has not been written before but I retired from what we Methodists call the 'active' work and we came' to live at the above address to be near our married son who himself attended Wesley under the care of Mrs. Leembruggen and Miss Blacker. Since removal we have had our problems, including finding your letter'. My wife Joins me in every good wish and fond remembrance
Very truly yours,
Rev W. A. Holden

From Dr.N.D.Amerasekera

Dr. M.H.M.Meeran sadly passed away a few years ago after an illustrious career in Medicine both in the UK and abroad. I vaguely recall him as a Senior Prefect at Wesley in 1951 maintaining law and order standing on the side lines at morning Assembly.

A Message From Rev William A. Holden MA BD written specially for this website July 2001

A Note from Rev.Holden

Photo - Rev.Holden in 1988


Dear Dr.Amerasekera
Thank you for your phone call and the letter of 3rd of July. Thank you for inviting to make some small contribution to the website regarding Wesley College. This I enclose. What I would like to know is how you have traced me down and learn of my whereabouts. I hope you find the enclosed suitable.
Signed - WA.Holden
When I left Wesley in 1945 I was under orders from the MMS to get back into Burma. I could only do that by joining the Army, so I was enlisted into the Relief Team; for a couple of years I saw more of Burma than if I remained as a civilian. After an extended furlough during which I was able to prepare in Burmese commentaries on ROMANS and JOB. When I returned to Burma I was engaged in training of preachers and ministers. My wife had hoped to be with me on this tour but arrangements for the care of our son broke down so I was on my own, for which cause my term was shortened.
On our return to the UK I was appointed to the Finsbury Park Circuit North London where we spent six happy years. As Superintendent Minister I was appointed to the Highgate Circuit, also in North London. Before long the MMS were on my trail and wanted me to return to Burma. We arranged to leave after 4 years. But there had been a change of Government in Burma in 1962 and the new Government did not want OUTSIDERS in the country, so we could not return. We did go East but not as far as we had hoped, just East to the new town of Basildon in Essex, where we stayed 9 years of very hard work.
When retirement came in 1973 we moved to Somerset to be near our married son and family. I was soon "in harness" again. Unhappily my wife died in 1976 before we had been here for 3 years. After this bereavement I became almost a fulltime Minister in the Somerset Mission Circuit. The folk here have been magnificent, encouraging, supporting helping in every way. Twice they have made it possible for me to pay brief visits to Burma. During my retirement here I have never been far from school work. I have been involved in the life of Millfield School for some 20 years, teaching and playing a part in chaplaincy team. Have continued to prepare people for preaching and Ministry.
Last Christmas I decided that at 90 I should discontinue driving and cycling, so now I am reduced to the proverbial Shanks pony. Still active on a Sunday with the help of friends still doing some pastoral work.
I am honoured to be invited to make this contribution to the Wesley website and send warm greetings to all who remember me.

Addendum by Dr.N.D.Amerasekera

Photo: Rev William Holden - In retirement in Glastonbury

f3I was reading through the Centenary Souvenir when I came across a letter by Rev Wiliam Holden to Shelton Peiris. In that he has said he lived in Glastonbury in Somerset, UK. wanting to be near his son. I thought I should get in touch with his son for some information about Rev.Holden. Thanks to the Internet and British Telecom I managed to get a telephone number of a Mr. Holden in Glastonbury. I thought I would be speaking to the son when I was pleasantly surprised. It was Rev. William Holden himself. His happiness to speak to an old Wesleyite was almost palpable and he most kindly agreed to write a short account about his life after leaving our school. I will send him the warm and heartfelt greetings of the past and present boys of Wesley College Colombo and thank him for this article and the good wishes.


Links to further reading

Kenneth M de Lanerolle by D.F.Abeysekera

When I first met Mr. de Lanerolle, I was a frail extremely sensitive and shy young lad, anonymous amidst Wesley's giants of the day ! But I did observe him closely for he was a striking personality-and one somehow looked up to him, as a born leader of men. He was Art Master (daubing his brilliant colours, or blending subtle shades into glens and trees, unfolding scenes of richness before one's eyes). or, as a teacher of English, in particular, a teacher of the intricacies of speech. A word had to be pronounced correctly. In the general English classes, in particular. I often recall the sentences he chalked up on the blackboard, and the "drill" one was put through to "speak" these sentences correctly. His General English classes in the Sixth Form were a great joy to us. His pithy comments his twitching, cascading eyebrows the quick silver like moving of his scalp. and what were considered his "typical" remarks (acknowledged with the exchange of knowing glances!) were the motive power of our learning. 'What's the earthly use of a language if you cannot speak it correctly?" He would go on to illustrate a point, and it was truly a "General English" class-broad in perspective and immense in scope!

He even did a routine inspection of one's teeth in the hope of discovering, gaps that would be an impediment to good, cultured, speech; and invariably a few of us spent some of our English classes in a dental chair. One now came to know Mr. de Lanerolle more and with this newfound knowledge of him; some of our boyish prejudices and distorted notions sped away. And so I came to respect and love, him as a man of the highest integrity, standing firmly for what he believed in, a dogged fighter particular for the weak and underprivileged and in a broad and wider sense, a true Christian. There was no need for him to thumb the Bible, merely to catch the public eye. He was what he was, at all times. He was truly a great personality at Wesley-a skilled actor, an excellent singer (a bass baritone) an angler (if one needs. evidence, one has only to read his book. "Southern River"). A man of learning. a disciplinarian, a man who understood young people their trials and aspirations, a skilled speaker, a very good "make-up-man" for the theatre; an excellent organiser briefly, a man' of varied and rich talents-and above all a staunch friend. When he left Wesley, Kingswood, Kandy, quickly Consolidated her tremendous and unexpended gain!

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

Having retired from Kingswood. Mr.Lanerolle settled down in Colombo for a while, immersing himself in the Theatre. "The Merry Widow" was the outcome; When the late Revd. Dr. D. T. Niles made arrangements for him to go across to Vietnam, as Director, Asian Christian Service, perhaps Dr. Niles bad by then realised taking over from a Burmese. a man with such outstanding talent and ability could not be always ignored, Mr. de Lanerolle's major concern now, as Secretary of the Department of Communications of The National Christian Council, is the building up of diverse channels of communication. among Christian people themselves as well as between Christian peoples and Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and others in Ceylon. To his mind the very future of the Church in Sri Lanka depends on adequate and meaningful "communication". In 1971 he visited Peru to attend the Fifth Assembly of the World Council for Christian Education (now integrated into The World Council of Churches). It was only recently that he released his report as Chairman of "The Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English in the Schools of Sri Lanka." And, as he labours on, every Wesleyite, in this Centenary Year, would surely wish him all joy and contentment.

Fred Abeysekera


Kenneth M. de Lanerolle - The end of an era by C.N

With the death of Kenneth M. de Lanerolle in May this year at the age of 90, the life of an illustrious educationist ended.

Educated at Richmond, he was successively Vice Principal of Wesley, Principal of Kingswood and Principal of Wesley - all of them Methodist institutions set up in the 19th century in the noblest traditions of a liberal education by illustrious principals, Darrell, Blaze and Highfield. De Lanerolle picked up his role from them as a versatile, and gifted teacher, linguist, novelist, broadcaster, actor, playwright, poet, humorist, painter, geographer, public speaker and administrator. All these talents were gracefully blended in one outstanding school principal - the likes of which we will never see again in our grim educational landscape. My association with Mr. de Lanerolle was mainly, though by no means exclusively, in the field of English teaching, a vocation we shared. The late Minister of Education Dr. Badi-ud-din Mahmud hand- picked him to head a Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English in the Schools of Sri Lanka (CITE).

The leadership he gave to this committee and the commitment and zeal with which he accomplished an important assignment designed to give our country "a place in the sun" are etched in my memory and undoubtedly in the memories of those who were associated with him in his task. 'A Place in the Sun' was the apt title he gave to his report, which consisted of two parts and ran into 382 mimeographed pages. It appeared in 1973 in the aftermath of the lunar conquest, that "giant leap for mankind". De Lanerolle's report contained 21 chapters, whose titles give an idea of the scope of its coverage: * The role of English in South and South East Asia; English in Sri Lanka; The Demands for English; English in the Schools; Outline of a Plan.* Beginning English; the Four Year Course; English in Schools after NCGE: The use of the Mother Tongue in TESL; Libraries, Preparation of Classroom Material and Creative Works in English; The Place of Literature;* Evaluating and Testing; Learning and Teaching in and out of school; Recruitment and Deployment of Teachers; The Good English Teacher; Teacher Education; Regional English Units; The Administration of English, Research and International Contacts.

We wonder, as did de Lanerolle in the last lap of his earthy sojourn, if the present educational establishment has even heard of a report titled "A Place in the Sun".

Professor Gooneratne's brief communique to CITE sounds true, after all: It's not only English teaching that is dead but most of the members of the committee that inquired into it, not to speak of Minister Mahmud and a good many of those who submitted their excellent oral and written submissions. For me, to remember Kenneth de Lanerolle is to summon up, among many other remembrances, CITE and the long hours I spent with him in a truly educative experience producing A Place in the Sun".

Wesley College 125th Anniversary Message- by Dr. Lou Adhihetty

2Greetings from Switzerland I am honoured by your invitation to write a message for Wesley College 125th Anniversary Magazine. I do so with great joy, love and affection as a Past Servant (Past Principal) and as a Past Student (Old Boy), 'natured and nurtured" in the traditions of the school.

I truly thank God for Wesley! She has been SMART (Spectacular, Magnanimous, Accountable, Responsible & Tremendous) - Spectacular and splendid in her specific role as a premier Educational Institution, serving Sri Lanka respectfully, dutifully and successfully; Magnanimous and magnificent in her overall achievements, contribution and service to the nation; Accountable and acclaimed for her appropriate function ("image") as a non-fee levying denominational school; Responsible, reliable and realistic in her God-inspired endeavours to pursue her goals despite all the restrictions and regulations and, last but not least, Tremendous and topmost in her all-round ranking, scholastically and athletically, as a multi-communal and multi-religious Methodist, State-assisted school First and foremost, praise, honour and glory must be given to the God-"anointed / motivated" missionaries (12 of them - especially, Rev. Henry Highfield), who dedicated, devoted and sacrificed their lives unselfishly to Wesley. They arrived with a "vision, mission and goal" despite most unfavourable / alarming conditions at that time (hazards of World Wars I & 11 and the eminent danger of contracting a tropical disease). Thank God they answered "God's call"! They were first-class, formidable and fearless Methodist Ministers / Pedagogues. Thanks also to the 7 Sri Lankans (especially, Mr. Shelton Wirasinghe), who, thereafter, took-over the reigns to continue the good work. Like their British predecessors, they continued to "give and not to count the cost" and to "toil and seek no reward" Doing their very best in the interest of Wesley.

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow


It is opportune to express our gratitude and thanks to many members of the Tutorial Staff (Schoolmistresses and Schoolmasters), who taught at Wesley, especially, at least, 30 of them, who spent more than 25 years of their precious life loyally serving, teaching, toiling, working, etc.. Thanks, also, to several members of the Clerical Staff (especially, Mr. Eric de Silva) and Minor Staff (especially, Ranis, Wilbert, Silva, Marshall, Amarasena, Rodrigo. etc.). They all made a notable and memorable contribution in the daily running of the school. Bless them all! Of course, a school does not just represent Principals and Staff - Students (Boys & Girls) form the MOST VITAL component. Wesley has indeed been most fortunate! She has produced several outstanding Sri Lankan Statesmen / Citizens (Governor General; Knights; Speaker; Cabinet Ministers; Ambassadors; Heads of Schools / Govt. Departments / Mercantile Firms; Doctors; Engineers; Lawyers; Accountants, Teachers; etc. ) from almost every conceivable community I religion in the country. This, MUST reveal the results of true communal tolerance and religious freedom. "A good tree bring forth good fruit"! Wesley has not just preached, but practiced religious and communal freedom - a very conducive and favourable atmosphere for growing students, who represent the potential leaders of our nation. It is imperative that students are taught "to live and let live".

We must not overlook Wesley's exceptional contribution to Sri Lankan Sports Wesleyites have Captained the National Team - eg. Cricket, Hockey, Badminton, etc.. Several have played in the National Team - eg. Cricket, Hockey, Soccer, Rugby, Badminton, etc.. Wesley even claims "ownership" of an Oxford University Athletics Blue and a Cambridge University Hockey Blue -coveted awards. What an amazing record. Truly, "men of grit and industry"

Lastly, we humans (including myself) have a habit of "taking" - do we not? How many "freely give as they freely receive"? Thank God, in this respect Wesley has been exemplary and, just extra-ordinary She has produced Past Students - Old Boys, Old Girls (my sister is one of them) and Parents from all religious and communal factions with a good and honourable conscience, who have helped their school (with a "ready aye" answer) generously and willingly. Does all this not illustrate that "what you sow is what you will reap"? Wesley is reaping the "harvest". I praise the Lord and thank Him for Wesley the most outstanding school of all! My prayer is, LONG LIVE WESLEY!

Editor's Note: Dr Lou Adhihetty was firstly a student at Wesley. He was an outstanding Cricketer and captained the College first XI. He was the Senior Prefect in 1956. He was a keen Sportsman. He Captained Cricket, Football, Hockey and Athletics. He entered Cambridge University and graduated in Chemistry. He was awarded a Cambridge hockey blue. From 1985 to 1988 Lou was Principal of Wesley. He now lives in Zurich and works for Novartis , a leading International Pharmaceutical Company

Celebrating 125 years of Wesley College by Dunstan Fernando

The 125th Anniversary of the founding of a school is certainly an important milestone in the her journey, and an event that should be celebrated. Elaborate arrangements are already underway to celebrate it right royally My mind goes back to 1974 when Wesley celebrated her Centenary. I had joined the staff as Vice Principal ~just a year prior to that. We who were on the staff at that time would remember how difficult the Welfare Society was finding it to pay even the staff salaries. Now that Shelton Wirasinghe is no more I would like to take this opportunity to do what he would have done today -- express Wesley's profound gratitude to all who functioned as members of the Welfare Society during those twenty odd years when Wesley was struggling to keep head above water. In 1981 the struggle mercifully ended. The Department started paying the salaries of all "registered teachers". I left Wesley at the end of 1982 having reached the retiring age of 60 years. But the most unexpected things happen in life the retiring age rule was not to apply anymore to the Principal & Vice Principals' posts. I was contacted to fill the vacancy that arose with the resignation of Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle. I must confess that it was after a great deal of hesitation that I decided to give up my post at Carey College. I was now on the horns of dilemma.

As a Methodist however. I had to agree that my duty right then was to help Wesley in her time of need. I assumed duties at Wesley in June 1989. During those six years I am glad I was able to do a few things I had on my agenda. I was able to arrange the construction of the three storeyed D.H.Pereira Memorial Building, which provided much needed accommodation for the Junior School. Two other buildings also came up during this period, 1) The Wesley Chapel. 2) The chaplain's Quarters- extensions My main aim however was to improve the standard of work and our results at the OIL and the A/L examinations , which for over a long period had left much to be desired. I did not succeed in this as much I had expected but the examination results did improve. I also laid, I believe, the foundation for good results in time years ahead, by selecting for admission into "year one" children who were, potentially, intellectually good material. Incidentally, another wish of mine was to step up the number of Christian children in the school. When I left Wesley, Christian students formed the majority. I presented my final Prize Day Report in July 1994. That report ended with the last two lines of the shortest hymn in the Methodist Hymn Book. The two lines are: We'll praise Him for all that is past, And trust Him for all that's to come" May Wesley College continue with the grace of God, to send out into the world men of sterling character, imbued with the highest ideals in life and a spirit of service to promote the welfare of our beloved land. Multos Annos ,

Editors Note: Dunstan Fernando B.A. (Cey) - Cert Ed/B was Vice-Principal of Wesley from 1973 to 1982. He rejoined Wesley as Principal in 1989 and continued in this position till his retirement in 1995

The Principals 125th Anniversary Message - Mr. N.A.B.Fernando

a2As the 19th Principal of Wesley and having successfully completed three years in post,

I feel I am part of an exuberant Wesley heritage. Harold Non is (1957-61) and Lou Adhihetty (1985-88) have been inpast as Old Boy Principals before me. With this experience of three years. I am absolutely convinced that an Old Boy at the helm does make a difference.It is a well known fact that only three of us, out of a total of nineteen are Old Boy Principals. Others like Rev. Henry Highfield. Rev. John Dalby and Rev. James Cartman to name but three illustrious men have with distinction led Wesley to the fore. But at this 125th Anniversary, I am keen to introduce the concept of an insider empathy. I feel itis only an Old Boy Principal who can function with the empathy of an insider.The resulting action is not merely engaging in a nostalgia trip along the corridor of the Main building and being part of a select congregation in the Main Hall. This is important, but it is more than that. Traditions we accept are sacrosanct and the phrase "men of grit and industry" reverberates within inc each time I simw the College song. These and many other gems of great value make me feel, with emotion and pride what a great deal I owe. Wesley our Alma Mater.

The words of Isaac Watts The great Methodist Hymn writer has underpinned and and encapsulates for me the feeling of debt that I want to express

Were the whole realm of nature mine.
That were an offering far too small,
love so amazing so divine,
Demands my soul, now life my all

So, I am convinced that if we owe so much we must give back to Alma Mater all we can. I believe Wesley has progressed with courage and determination since 1995. There is a resurgence, a revival and a renaissance in all activities, whether it be studies, sports or activities and I have expanded on some of them below.In the academic domain on a national scale the highlights are, in 1998, on the Educational Reforms. Simultaneously, at Wesley, I have launched a robust In-Service Professional Staff Training Programme. Some courses even pre-dating (i. e. pre 1997 the National Educational Reforms). Significant among these innovations at Wesley are :- School based assessment, new forms of Reporting (student Reports for Parents)Collaborative Learning. Criteria referenced assessment, paradigm shifts in teaching from a teacher based to a child centred or student centred form of teaching. Action Plans and Counselling for students and the phasing out of corporal punishment. In the penultimate year of the twentieth century my commentary would be incomplete if I do not mention that Computer Literary classes and the benefits of the Internet have considerably enhanced academic progress at Wesley. In Sports there has been exciting and enthralling progress in Cricket. Rugby, hockey and Soccer. Between 1997 and 1998 Wesley has recorded the prolific scoring feats of D. Jayakody. 1-Ic already has achieved the coveted target of 8 centuries at the beginning of the 125th Anniversary Cricket season. 1-he has supassed and outscored previous Wesley heroes, R. David' s and D. Dissanayake' s centuries 1985 - 90 and two others who obtained a tally of 4 centuries each during their First Eleven stints.

In Rugby, both the 1997 and 1998 Seasons have been productive. Wesley reached the President's Trophy stage in both seasons having been unbeaten in the Schools League Tournament in 1997.

Societies at Wesley continue to flourish. Students have excelled particularly in Scouting and Internet activities enhancing their leadership skills together with studies and sport.s.

We have indeed widened the life chances our students will possess because Wesley encourages holistic education ftr our students on an ongoing basis.

In 1897 Rev.Highfield soon realised that Pettah was not suitable for Wesley College and as he sought after a new site he said "Wesley was now ready to spring forward to the front ranks of educational institutions in Sri Lanka". I believe in 1998 that Wesley remains among the first five leading schools in Sri Lanka. and I am determined that Wesley shall remain in front. I am equally determined that at Wesley we will implement sustainable projects and developments that will have a self-propelling impact in the ensuing twenty five years and tar into the new millennium.

On the 125th Anniversary 1999, Wesleyites must therefore press On with high expectations and strength that we shall continue to receive from God.

We'll praise Him for all that is past And trust Him for all that's to come."

To God be the glory always!!

Ora et Labora


Tribute to Dr. N A B Fernando, one of my unforgettable Principals by a University student in Meblourne Australia

One of the principals who I cannot forget in my life is Dr. N.A.B.Fernando. He was the principal of wesley college colombo during my last few years at school. He left wesley and went to London during the same period when i had passed out of Wesley in 2000.

Little did I know that he would leave me with some everlasting memories, unforgettable conversations and things to ponder throughout my life, when i 1st saw him at our college hall while playing table tennis. This happened only couple of days since he had taken over as principal. He had come into the hall to glance through the "Hill Medal"(highest academic award of the school) award list and head prefects board which was put up right at the back of Wesley College Hall, which had his batch mates names on it.

Dr.NAB Fernando understood students minds naturally. His words of encouragement, saying that i should work for united nations our lingering in my mind. The 1 st time I heard him say, that, i should try to work for united nations, i took it light, thinking it as a word of encouragement..but the person the was, he recalled it and said the same thing after couple months when I was reaching the end of my schooling career. This insistence and memory took me by a huge surprise. Those moments like so many other precious moments are embozed in my mind.

I recall him saying to me that he lost his father at the age of thirteen, and about his innate liking for choir and oratory. The support he gave for conducting debates and benefit shows make us ever so indebeted to him.

I can remember his formal appearance, his stern looks and articulate use of language. I was deeply saddened to know about his demise in London on march 16th....never really wanted to blog about it since then...but thought that...this should be a chapter in my blog which shouldn't be missed..thats why it has taken thislong to bring this out of my mind.

He was a role model for all Wesleyites.

From the Double Blue Magazine 2000-2004 by Dr N A B Fernando

I thank the principal for inviting me to write this message for the Wesley College magazine covering a period of five years, 2000 to 2004. I note that it was six years ago that I last wrote an article, in 1999, this appear on page seven under the title "The Principal's 125th Anniversary Message." The last sentence in it reads,' ..... Wesleyites must therefore press on with high expectations and the strength that we shall continue to receive from God.'

Photo- The Principal's Bungalow

We have both, that is, both Wesley College and Mr. Ben Fernando, your former Principal, Have pressed on and we have both achieved further success. The key to all this, I believe, is implicit, total and continuing trust in God.

The superlative success Wesley College celebrates, I contend, is the selection . of Farveez Maharoof, a Wesleyite, to play Test and One-Day International Cricket for Sri Lanka. I wish him every success. I've also

been informed about the high calibre performances of the Wesley College Rugby Teams. I personally feel rewarded and fulfilled that the visionary and dedicated work of the late 1990's is producing these exhilarating results. Equally, my wife Ira and I feel fulfilled that we initiated, financed and continue to support the Wesley College Junior School Resources Centre. We pray for continuing success at Wesley College for all activities whether they be in studies, sports, societies, scouts or any other.

This message essentially needs to be brief and so to a few items of news of your former principal. I am currently completing my PhD research in education at the University of London Institute of Education. I thank God that through this study course my cognitive and writing skills have significantly improved and later, I may write a longer article! And so to conclude, two thoughts: First, we must continuously aim at creativity and innovation. We cannot stagnate. Stability is an illusion in the context of increased global interaction. Your former Principal is continuing to learn and others therefore need to continue to learn for our work to be effective.

This I propose on a similar line to the Staff Professional Development Programme I conducted between 1996 and 2000. Here is a brilliant quotation to illustrate what I mean, attributed to Hoffer: In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find them selves beautifully equipped to dealwith a world that no longer exists.

Second, for my research I have and continue to read deeply into the achievements of our past (and 12 out of 20 of them, Missionary) Principals. In my PHD thesis I include, among other themes two prominent strands: the role of leadership and the gains of staff development for the improvement of our schools. From all this research and reflection, I must state with clarity and vision for Wesley College, Colombo, Sri Lanka:that it will continue to be a beacon school of Christian witness, the one projected by our founders, well into the future.

May God Bless You.

Ora et labora

Highfield of Wesley by Shelton Peiris

Photo: Rev Henry Highfield

In October 1895 - the year Wesley completed 11 years of uphill existence there arrived in Ceylon as Wesley's new Head the Rev. Henry Highfield, (M.A) The students and staff in the dusty Pettah buildings of the old Wesley did not see then anything spectacular in the ruddy faced medium figure. But very soon they were to realize that their "new Principal" was a man of resolute determination and swift action. He foresaw and conveyed his view that Wesley had no future in the Pettah in buildings "worse than stables". Henry Highfield was born in India on the 22nd of December 1865. His father, the Rev. George Highfield was a well read Methodist Missionary. He was also the boy's tutor till the age of 12 at which age Henry was admitted to Kingswood school, Bath, where besides being a keen student he excelled in sports, representing his school in 1st XI Cricket and Rugger. Later at Cambridge he studied for the classical Tripos and joined Richmond Theological College, Surrey. His deep insight of men and matters qualified him best when the choice for a Principal arose. Once the offer was made the Rev. Henry Highfield accepted it as a part of his mission. In later years he considered it a great challenge. With Highfield at the helm Wesley though in dusty Pettah took on a new dimension. His labours and his profound influence on the life of the school chalked out a new era. His drive and battling dynamism pushed Wesley, within a few years of his control to the front rank in education and sports.

Photo: Shelton Peiris

His personal attention won for Wes~1ey many an academic reward. He umpired 'at the cricket matches and refreed at her soccer matches. He infused a new spirit a new dimension ad a new energy to whatever was deemed old and stale or trivial. His cry was ', Let's get new buildings, Let's get out of this dust." The magnitude of his proposal had stalled the stoutest heart - but Henry Highfield just knew where he was heading and what Wesley needed most. He wrote again and again to the Home Mission, he argued, he pleaded -this venture was an act of Christian Service to these many young people Buddhist or Hindu or, Muslim. He contacted the Old Boys, Well 'Wishers and even strangers. By now a site was selected and purchased but what of the buildings? Here was Highfield's challenge, here was Himalayan challenge facing the man of God. At last the Wesleyan' Methodist Mission in London agreed to help and in Ceylon Highfield the Missionary Beggar began his now famous Begging campaign. He scoured the length and breadth of the island, leaving home at dawn he would be seen trundling his cycle home, dusty, exhausted but with hope in his heart though sometimes only promises in his pocket.

For 14 months Highfield cycled, lectured, begged. So great was his sincerity that refusals were unheard of nor did High-field leave any out. Wesley was not only for the' Christian - far from it. Wesley was for all religions and this was proved to the hilt when Buddhist and Hindu and Muslim gave to this cause without restriction. From Knights to clerks and tea-pluckers came in the funds, and then Higbfield's Magnum opus was completed in 1906 at Karlsruhe. What a stately pile of buildings certainly the most beautiful in Colombo. An almost unknown fact is that Henry Highfield, published a little but a very instructive book on,The Geography of Ceylon for Ceylon Schools by H.H; This book was the result of his many trips through the length and breadth of Ceylon Every experience the great Highfield used, purposefully. Highfield was Wesley's inspiration, a great disciplinarian and a great teacher; his influence was not only confined to Wesley alone. Highfield had made very meaningful contributions to the educational life of this country.' He was a man of insight and vision - he had urged the students to study Botany and take up to agriculture He was also a fearless fighter for the right. One recalls his criticism of Government policy, for-when in 1915 a number of Buddhist leaders were arrested Highfield strongly protested against British action. He played an important role in securing their release. His surest strength lay in his deep Christian faith and as a humble follower of his Master.

Principal's Bungalow

He would circumvent any difficulty to accommodate a lad 'from a poor home, who showed promise be he Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim. Highfield moved among the crowd. He was a king among men, yet held the least among them to his bosom with a rare and rich affection. Henry Highfield was a pure and' a. sincere man faithful and loyal. He suffered a great loss in the 'death of his first wife, not many years 'after his marriage. This event had such an impact on his life that he had grown -deeply spiritual in an added dimension. His second marriage to Miss Ledger, who like the first Mrs. Highfield was one time the Principal of the Pettah Girls School, was an act of great compassion only possible by a man of the purity and understanding Of Highfield. This lady too worked valiantly for the cause of Wesley and; was a faithful and loyal companion. Kindness and understanding came naturally to the Rev. Highfield. The old Timers yet recall how he helped to lift the coffin of John Silva the College Appu who dropped dead one morning. Highfield kept John's body in state in the College Hall and the tears that rolled down the cheeks of the great man swelled from the depth of his great heart. It was a no strange sight On match days at Campbell Park to see Highfield seated on the grass with the gram sellers, the ice cream vendors and the little urchins~ Highfieid was one with his students at school outings - though he was a firm disciplinarian.

Here the great teacher blended with the equally great sportsman. Henry Highfield was a man of determination and strong temper, yet he was humble to apologise when he felt he was too exacting or too harsh -for instance one rainy night Rev. Highfield was seen with a lantern in his hand knocking at the door of a Boarding Master. It later transpired that when Highfield knelt to pray before retiring to bed he felt he had to make amends with this Master over a talk in the staff room! Henry Highfield's influence on Wesley is a continuous process the traditions he had initiated long years ago have come down the passage of time and have become Wesley's rich and rare heritage. Highfield was called on 'one memorable occasion "God's own man" And that saying sums up the Rev. Henry Highfield of Wesley. Highfield was indeed a chosen vessel and he answered the call, met every challenge that faced him with typical Christian courage and fortitude paving the way for generations who followed him and shall follow him, And forever men of grit and industry shall with one acclaim say "Well done thou good and faithful servant".

No School is an Island by K.M.de Lanerolle

I was fortunate to be Vice-Principal of Wesley College in 1949 during the Principal ship of .James Cartman and well remember the 75th Anniversary celebrations marked by improvements to the Old Block, additional classrooms and (most importantly) a history of the School researched by the Principal himself. On the 100th Anniversary celebrations a souvenir was published to which I contributed. Now 25 years later I find myself invited again to give a message for this Special Souvenir to mark the 125 years Anniversary. I consider that Wesley should regard this high point in its life as the opportunity for a self searching exercise, a prayerful consideration, of the maxim" No school is an Island" under three inter - related headings ; A Neighborhood Outlook, A National Identity and a Global Dimension. A Neighborhood Outlook One of the weaknesses of the large urban schools of Sri Lanka is a tendency to be a kind of ivory tower, living a life of its own. It does not speak well for any school to he isolated from the locale in which it is set; indeed, its stature increases to the extent that it interacts with the community. An adjacent playing - field or volleyball court may well lead to recreation with children from surrounding homes. Classes not used after dark could come alive as a night school and the premises provide meeting places for functions, clubs oand other local activities.

The school thus becomes the focal point of the neighborhood. More significant could be the school's outreach into its environment. Visits to various centres of human activity under the direction of imaginative teachers would not merely sharpen a child's mind but (what is more important) touch his heart: devotion at a temple, business at the market place, automation in a factory, caring attention in a hospital, the harshness of a slum. Thus the development of the whole man in the context of a community will have been achieved. This is true education. A National Identity Breathes there a man With a Soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land... Flow do schools produce patriots? In the young mind, loyalty to country flows naturally from loyalty to school, its curriculum in History, Geography and indigenous culture forming the foundation of a child's national upbringing; he leaves school conscious of its national identity.

Education in the mother tongue in monolingual States, is a great strengthening factor in nation building. When, as in Sri Lanka schools have two language streams, this acts as a divisive force and it calls for ingenuity on the part of educators to develop measures that can maintain the concept of one nation. Some are successful. Some are not. It is to the great credit of Wesley that blessed as it is with friendly Sinhala and Tamil streams and a happy mix of Malays, Moors and Burghers, it has achieved this. While Sri Lanka produced true patriots in its struggles against invading armies from the West there were men in times of peace who earned a name for their stout defense of the country's rights, particularly from among the English - educated elite of the later years of the British Administration. Regretfully, their number has not increased appreciably in recent times. Being far removed from the upheaval's of the Industrial world and underpinned as if is by ideals of maitri and ahimsa, the Sri Lankan schools' stance on patriotism has tended to he muted. In the old days school cadet corps and camps, were much in evidence.

The scenario has now changed. The armed forces were no more than merely ceremonial. Fifteen years of confrontation in the North and East have soured our way. of life, bringing to the fore all the attributes of war ; its horror and brutality, its heroism and bravery. The Ministry of Education with over 10,000 teachers under its purview is one of the largest employers in Sri Lanka: its Lankan posture appears to be confined to such mundane matters as exams and transfers. Inter school fixtures in the major sports and athletics foster a certain amount of competition on a regional and national basis, though such a thing as friendly exchange among participants rarely exists. On the other hand extracurricular activities like Scouting and Guiding have a long traditions of fellowship irrespective of race, religion language and school status.

Some NGO's have interested themselves in the encouragement of Music, Dance, Drama and Speech. A great deal remains to he done in these areas if the cultural aspects of National Identity are to be seriously fostered by the State. In this connection, I recall the splendid example of unity in diversity set by Haig Karunaratne with his exciting 'Ballads Festivals' held at Wesley College and open to a large number of boy's and girl's schools. Cannot this example he revived and replicated in the regions '? A Global Dimension Kamnil's mother is a housemaid in Saudi Arabia. Lal's father docs Insurance work in Canada. Brian has a brother studying in Australia and an aunt who teaches in the Maldives.

Others have relations employed in Japan, Britain. Nigeria and New Zealand. They all know the lingo of foreign travel, from visas to e-mail. Here we have connections of Global dimensions and there is not a single school in time Island which does not have students involved in similar situations. Meanwhile, the phenomenal development of communications technology today has brought the would to our doorstep. We cannot be blind to this fact. Can a school afford to ignore this influx of amorphous data that leaves our youth at the mercy of conflicting ideas and ideals '?A coordinated programme of classroom studies and extra-curricular activities is clearly needed, to enable children to get a sober global perspective based On the awareness that they are part and parcel of the human race, that it is good to know what is happening around these events and - above all - to do what they can to promote goodwill and amity. Existing school societies (like the SCM, Scouting, the Literary Union, Interact Club) could be encouraged to undertake some of the thrusts of the programme and new groupings formed. Pen Pals and "twinning" with other schools abroad will go a long way to enrich the global dimension of the participants.

A final word about the role of English vis-à-vis a global dimension. The Kannangara Reforms launched 50 years ago were hailed as an egalitarian victory with English for All ' as one of its slogans. What tragic failure this has become is evident on all sides. English has been a first language, a second language and an auxiliary language in Sri Lanka the various sectors of the population since it was brought to our shores. Whatever form it took, those exposed to the English Language have inherited it treasures; the concept of democracy, British Justice and Fairplay', a boundless wealth of literature and overviews of the ancient and modem world through its translation of standard works of other cultures.

Today everybody wants English as its value is universally acknowledged. However, in many schools where senior students would normally be beneficiaries of the TESL programme, English teaching is ineffective. Wesley should see to it that these key classes are not denied the broad horizons and wide vistas that only the English Language can give. Conclusion In This message I have shared with you my ideas as to how "No school is an Island" may be adopted by Wesley College as maxim for its 125th Anniversary. I need hardly add for the success of such an enterprise there should be in the school a base -a launching pad - of enthusiastic and well-motivated teachers and responsive students. It is my earnest prayer that these two crucial Components will play their part and that a revitalized Guru Shisha partnership will emerge and lead Wesley into the future as a premier Educational Institution.

The Cartman Library A Tribute to a Great Principal

Where knowledge is free and the head held high
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the mind is lead forward into ever widening thought and action

Rabindranath Tagore - From Gitanjalee

Rabindranath Tagore in his everlasting work - Gitanjali aptly uses on knowledge and the limitless ability of the mind "to strive higher". A place for such striving and pursuit of knowledge should be the focus of a good Educational Institution. Though the "Cartman Library" of Wesley dates hack to 1949, the college had its first small Library room as early as 1932. which was opened by Rev. A. S. Beaty. By the year 1938 more books, magazines and periodicals were added and a Library Committee set up with a Master in charge responsible for the Library. With this development, Sinhala and Tamil Sections were also added to the Library. The 'Cartman era' from 1945 - 1949 though brief, saw the dawn of a new and well equipped Library for the College. Being a keen sportsman, theologian and above all a worthy Scholar, he realised the importance of widening the horizons of knowledge of the students. during his time an extension to the Upper storey of the 'Main Block' was completed, in time for the 'Diamond Jubilee' celebrations in 1949.

The Cartman Library in 2012

The College Library is part of this extension, and was named after Rev. Cartman. and now stands as a monument of honour for his selfless and determined work at Wesley. The Cartman Library was declared open by the then Prime Minister 1-Ion. D. S. Senayayake on 8th July Nineteen forty-nine. In 1955 a full-time Senior Librarian was appointed for the first time, to work during school hours. The University Entrance classes made use of the Main Section of the Library, while the adjoining verandah was used by other students for reading. The Schools take over in 1961 made Wesley a private non-fee levying School and the entire main tenance of the college had to be done with private funds. Since that time the Cartman Library has come a long way. The past few years, the Cartman Library has seen many changes. The entire environment of the Library has changed for the better after 1995, and now provides a pleasant and comfortable place for academic pursuits.

The entire Library was renovated and refurbished by funds from the OBU UK, by the present Principal, and Vice Principal, with the assistance of past students and well-wishers. The Cartman Library now houses over 7000 books of a wide range of subjects and authors. It has many new facilities installed and the Sinhala and Tamil sections have been expanded, in keeping with the educational policies enacted by successive governments. A separate section for recently published computer manuals and periodicals have also been established in the Library. The Library has its own Notice Board, where current news items and articles of academic importance are displayed side by side with Library notices. The Cartman Library is also in possession of a collection of valuable 'Ola leaves' too. The Junior Section is managed by a part time Librarian' Above all the main College Library now functions as a focal point for the Senor Section and has become the lifeline of the voracious readers among our students.

There is a steady flow of hooks amid reading material for the Library from various institutions. Among them the Asia Foundation, N.I.E. The Library Services, Bookshops of repute and private donors should be mentioned. In this year of the 125th Anniversary of Wesley College we should gear ourselves and prepare to face the challenges of the new Century. The Cartman Library is slowly hut steadily making head-way into playing its dynamic role in College life, so as to encourage students and staff in the ultimate realization of their future dreams.

Upgrading the Cartman Library 2019

A most generous donation By Afghar Mohideen

AfgharMr. Afghar Mohideen - sponsored the upgrading of the Cartman library through the OBU Colombo. Two computers with software enabling access to Windows, including one Large table with six chairs, for mind games like Chess was donated by Mr. Afghar Mohideen. This gesture is a great boost for the Boys, and will certainly help them in their research and quest for knowledge. The College Library is now well equipped with a curated collection of 9000 books covering many subjects and many boys are now making use of the facilities in the library. The Cartman Library is very well maintained by the School and is a source of great pride to Wesley.

From Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

Our library is a place of study, collaboration, development, creativity and knowledge. The library is a tribute to Rev James Cartman, our legendary Principal, who restored, revived and regenerated the school after the devastation of the War years 1939-45.

This is a generous and most welcome gift by Afghar Mohideen to bring the library in to the 21st century with the addition of computers. With the new furniture the Students can now sit and read in comfort. These additions will encourage more students to use the facility

Whether our pupils are searching for knowledge, quiet reflection, reading for pleasure, or to exercise their imagination, the Wesley College Library will answer their needs.

I remember the Cartman library during my years 1950-62. The serenity and the silence of the place was distinctive. It was a place of knowledge for the many. There was a fine collection of books of English Classics from Dickens to Shakespeare and poetry from Byron to Shelley. These were a magnet for the students. The chairs were always occupied. There were many journals that were popular. The library was also a place of refuge from the ever present noise of the school during the breaks. The Computers and tables are a worthy addition. May the library continue to enhance their knowledge and educate our students as it has always done.

Links to further reading

Rev Highfield, The Begging Saint at Karlsruhe by Shelton Peiris

Photo: Shelton Peiris

A very historic red letter day, in the annals of Wesley College, is the 10th of October, for it was on this day, in 1895, that the Rev.Henry Highfield set foot on our shores -that was 104 years ago. No doubt the gigantic steps he took can be measured from that momentous date.Much has been written of this great English gentleman and even much more has yet to surface. This is but a brief note, to meet the occasion's demands, of presenting a piece on the issue of the souvenir of Wesley College OBU UK. Henry Highfield was born on the 22nd of December 1865, in Barrackpur, India, where his father served as a Methodist Missionary in that out-post. His father was young Henry's tutor till the boy was 12 years of age. On joining school, his was a very brilliant career, which included prowess in rugby and cricket. He spent many years at Kingswood College, Bath and at London and Cambridge universities. At Cambridge he read for the Classical Tripes; later he joined Richmond Theological College, Surrey.

It is in season to write even a few lines on his life in Ceylon - the country so dear to his heart. In 1899 he married Miss Minnie Buck in that quaint little church in the Fort of Matara. Minnie V.Buck, evangelist missionary, arrived in Ceylon in August 1892. She was a much loved, soft spoken, little lady who ministered both at Matara and Tangalla. Mrs Minnie Highfield was of great help to her husband as by then he was in the very swirl of his famous begging campaign. Her service was near sacrificial and both husband and wife were exhausted. They were urged to go on furlough. It was during this leave of absence that the foundation stone of the new Wesley was laid on 4th November, 1905. The Highfields, on their way home had visited the Holy land - a very blissful event for the couple. It is said that they cut short their stay to return to Wesley in time, ahead of the opening of the new premises which took place in February 1907 - only 15 months after the foundation was laid. The High fields were keenly pressing the project on.

Then tragedy struck. Mrs Highfield died of enteric fever on the 17th of April 1907. This indeed was a crushing blow to Mr Highfield. Yet, he just could not wilt. Here was yet another challenge in the life of this great man. Bowed in grief, yet he battled on. A friend of his, writing on the 29th of April 1907, had this to record - Mr Highfield is bearing up well, but with great effort; his life during these last days has been a magnificent display of heroic Christianity.

Wesley now had to be equipped, the spacious rooms had to be previewed with new furniture, the laboratories had to be completely equipped. This challenge had to be met head on.

The Rev.Highfield met that challenge. He was a lonely man and was urged by his friends to think of re-marrying. The lady they had in mind was none other than Mary F.Ledger, who for a number of years was the principal of the Pettah Girls' High School. They married in 1910. This lady was a great blessing to the Rev.Highfield and rendered much service to the College. She handled the school's finances, conducted classes and also prepared the salary sheets besides helping in the library.

As was mentioned earlier, an adequate assignment, even though brief, is no easy task. Among his front rank skills was his teaching, into which went his careful preparation whatever the lesson was. Especially those scripture classes, Classics and English Literature classes. It is written that he was a born teacher, his exact scholarship and meticulous preparation gave his lessons the finish of a work of art.

Highield was one, with his students, his influence changed the destiny of many a young life at Wesley, always reminding his charges and even his staff, that it will help them if they remember to recognise the small successes they had encountered at Wesley, when they meet whatever challenge in life. Highfield was no doubt an Apostle of Restoration. The crude, the immature or the soiled were all re-shaped and re-erected by Highfield, the master potter, to withstand the slings, the arrows and the storms of life.

His staff at Wesley adored him; they worked with him and not merely for him. His secret was that he walked and talked with them , in joy and in sorrow. Henry Highfield was approachable. He had a remarkable memory for detail. Although he bore a strong, commanding figure and was stern to view, he had a warm, compassionate heart. Another facet of hs was his truthfulness with his staff. He wore no mask nor did he believe in the counterfeit. The Rev.Highfield had a very high sense of justice. When our freedom fighters like II) B Jayatilleke, D S Senanayake and others were incarcerated, with neither ransom nor trial, it was Rev.Henry Highfield who spoke out fearlessly and sent a stiff note to the British Governor, who had handed over the administration to the military, that it was not the kind of justice he, Highfield, had learnt on the playing fields of Rugby and Eton. He would have faced a firing squad for his importunity.

His devoted and consecrated service of 30 long years has never yet been matched. Many of the customs and traditions at Wesley have stemmed from the wisdom and foresight of this great man. At his farewell in 1925 this was said, "Your departure will leave a void, which will be difficult to fill and we are certain that in the future, your name will be to all Wesleyites, not a mere memory but an inspiration".

How very true. Today Wesley looks back at the efforts of this great man, particularly in 'begging for funds from all and sundry - one is astonished! The Rev.Highfield has vividly related this harrowing feat in his article 'Three Hundred Days of Begging in the Tropics', which appears in the 125th Anniversary Souvenir published in 1999. Highfield was certainly never ashamed to beg nor did he ever prate about his dignity. It is sacrilegious to claim to walk in the footsteps of this saint who begged for his dream at Karlsruhe, for this monumental edifice, which is now ours to have and to hold, yet yields a rich harvest, s a result of prayer and labour and no doubt will be garnered by ages yet to come.

Our British Principals

A Biographical account by Dr.N.D.Amerasekera

I have always wondered how life treated our past British Principals after they left Wesley. In my quest for knowledge contacted the Assistant Archivist of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. I wish to thank her on behalf of the past and present pupils of the school for her efforts to trace the documents and make them available for publication. These documents are from the obituaries published in the Conference minutes of the year of their death. Mr.Bryan Thornton the Chief Executive of the Methodist Publishing House who owns the copyright has kindly granted us permission to include them in our website. Unfortunately the relevant documents of some of our British principals are unavailable.I am reliably informed by the Methodist Society in London that Rev. James Cartman gave up his ministry in 1950 after returning from Ceylon. Hence the absence of obituary information in the Conference Minutes.

They left the comfort of work in a rural Parish in Britain to be Missionaries in Ceylon. Life in Ceylon those days was hard with poor medical facilities. Cyclical epidemics of Typhoid , Dysentery, Small pox and Cholera took their toll. Mrs. Highfield succumbed to typhoid fever. To live as foreigners in a country struggling for independence could not have been easy. The achievements of our British Principals show their resilience and character. Many stories exist of their immense love for Wesley College and for the many who passed throught those school gates.

We are eternally grateful to the Methodist Missionary Society of Great Britain for sending us their best educationist as Principals of the school who have helped in no small measure to enhance the stature of the school as one of the finest in the country. I must mention the British Chaplains during my time at Wesley, Revs Wilfred Pile and Hugh Tattersall, both wonderfully kind people who provided the pastoral care immersing themselves fully in the life of the school.

May GOD BLESS them all.


Born November 20th 1854, at Retford, where his father, the Rev. John Shipham, was then stationed. He was at Kingswood School for seven years. and there received the impulse that determined his subsequent career. With characteristic precision. recorded that he "found peace at ten o'clock on the evening September 21st, 1868." He was than a boy of thirteen, and from then onward he felt that he was Surely called to be a preacher of the Gospel. He was accepted as a Candidate in 1874 and after a year at Richmond he was sent out to Ceylon. For thirteen years he made full proof his ministry in the Colombo District. He returned to England in 1888 and gave thirty-one strenuous years to circuit work. Eight yearn he became a Supernumerary. and spent his retirement in Southport. His modesty and Sincerity won for him everywhere, the affection and confidence of our people.. Every demand that theChurch made upon him was met with a loyal and loving response.. As preacher. pastor administrator, he was always found faithful. And he did not labour in vain. By his unobtrusive yet fervent devotion he led many to whom he ministered into the joy and peace of a real experience of God. He was a lifelong student of Theology, and until Ill-health prevented him he was ever seeking to help young local preachers to equip themselves to their work. He suffered much in his last months, but did not fear death's challenge, for he knew that it could not separate him from the love of God. He died in that assurance on February 9th. 1927. in the seventy third year of his age and the fifty-second of his ministry.


Born at Porkellis Helston February 14th 1849, his father being a local Preacher and class leader. Converted in 1865, he began to preach 2 years later, and he went to Richmond College in 1870. He was sent in 1873 to South Ceylon, where he did arduos and notable service as Principal of Wesley College Colombo. for eight years and of Richmond College Galle for 8 years more. In Galle he did much to train Sinhalese Ministers, evangelists and teachers. On returning to England in 1889, he continued to render devoted sevice. His preaching was instructive and useful. He was systematic and faithful in all pastoral duty, silfully used his great gift of sympathy. He had a wealth of tender affection, often indeed concealed but always effectual. His was a strong faithful ministry throughout. He died with startling suddenness at Bangor, February 16th 1918, in his 70th year and in the 46th of his ministry.



Born at Watton, near Brecon, in 1862. A son of the Manse, he was educated at Kingswood, took his degree when nineteen yearn of age and was accepted as a Candidate in 1888. During his first term at Richmond an urgent call came for educational work at Colombo, and he was sent out to become the Principal of Wesley College. In this and other important posts he rendered excellent service. After six years in Colombo he returned to England. and for thirty-two years exercised an efficient ministry. His preaching was marked by clear thinking and forceful speech. In circuit administration he was keen and courageous, skillfully handling difficult situations. A retentive memory made his pastoral work very effective. He exercised a gracious and uplifting influence in the sick room, was a tender comforter of the bereaved and an encourager of the faint-hearted. He loved the "lilies of the field," and became, a recognised authority on the flora of the locality in which he lived. Retiring from the active work at the Conference of 1927, he met with an accident in Liverpool, and passed swiftly and painlessly to his reward on August 26th,1927


21Who was born at Launceston in 1853.

At an early age he became, soundly converted to God. He was accepted as a candidate for missionary work, and greatly profited by his residence at the Richmond Theological Institution. In 1879 he was appointed to South Ceylon, and soon gained the esteem of his brethren by gentleness, firmness, unremitting diligence, perseverance and determination tosucceed. By the blessing of God on the eiercise of these gifts he was enabled to render most efficient service, both in the educational and the evangelistic departments of our work. Me was a successful preacher, a true friend and a wise administrator. As he was of vigorous bodily health none doubted that his career of usefulness would continue many years, but the great Ruler ordained otherwise. After a brief and not apparently dangerous illness, he was called to his reward. His last words testified to the presence of his Saviour. He died November 25th, 1885.


s8Born at Bacup April 29 1860. After 3 years at Richmond he was sent to South Ceylon in 1883 where he spent 34 years. As Principal of Wesley College Colombo he brought that instituition into the front rank of Ceylon Schools. He soon became known as a preacher as well as an educationist especially during his 3 years in Kandy where in addition to vernacular work he had to preach week by week to an English speaking congregation composed of people of several nationalities, both Eastern and Western. In 1894 he was appointed Chairman of the Colombo District. The 6 years of his Chairmanship were distinguished by advance in many directions- in mission buildings and organisations as well as spiritual efficiency. In his English circuit work his sermons were marked by vigorous thought and clear and picturesque expression. He was a sympathetic and Methodical Pastor and showed great ability in the business affairs of the Church. Amongst his gifts to Ceylon Christianity was a "life of Christ" in Sinhalese and to this he added just before his death "Life of Paul". He also published in England2 or 3 valuable volumes on missionary subjects. His work and character won admiration, confidence and affectionat home and abroad. Strong and firm he was at the same time gentle and sympathetic. and there was in his nature a happy strain of humour and poetic feeling. He kept his mind and teaching fresh by constant study and wide reading. In his preaching he put 1st things first and in all things he was the devoted soldier and servant of Jesus Christ. He died on July 7th 1920 after a long and trying illness borne with patience and Christian Cheerfulness.


a5Born at Littlehampton . Devon, in 1865. trained at Handsworth. In 1890 he went to Ceylon as Principal of Wesley College. Colombo, and much of the subsequent success of the College must be attributed to his fine leadership. Methodism in Ceylon was then moving towards the assumption of self-government, and in this formative and critical period he again proved the outstanding worth of his wise administration. For family reasons he was obliged to return home after twelve years of service in the island, but in 1908 he went East again, this time as the General Secretary of the Christian Literature Society of India, with headquarters at Madras. For nineteen years he provided countless Christians with educational, devotional, and theological literature, and into this task of utmost responsibility concentrated his energy, his remarkable gift of organisation and his passion for accurate scholarship, and achieved his goal with enduring success. He was a pioneer in the creation of the Co-operative Banks in India, which today are proving of unspeakable benefit, and also in the creation of a Sustentation Fund for Indian ministers and their families. In 1923 he was elected Chairman of the Provincial Synod. When Dr. Mott carried through the series of Conferences that led to the formation of the National Christian Council for India, Burma, and Ceylon, he was responsible for organising the greatest of the Area Conferences. On returning again to England he served for a period in Sheerness, and in 1930 he retired to Harpenden. The man was greater than anything he did; his kindly wise counsel, his rich humour and impregnable integrity have helped, and will continue to help, all who were privileged to know him. The end came peacefully on April 20th, 1936.


123Born at Bengal. India, in 1865. He was the son of Rev.George Henry Highheld, who spent many years on the Indian mission-field. HE early education was at Kingswood, and he afterwards took the MA. degree at London and Cambridge. He was accepted as a candidate for the ministry, and after training at Richmond was sent to Ceylon in 1895. Here he had charge of Wesley College. Colombo, and remained in Ceylon for thirty years. On returning to England he servedin the following circuits: Aberystwyth, Marazion, and Cradley Heath. He retired to Pickering in 1936 and to within a few months of his death was actively engaged in the life of the circuit, taking regular preaching appointments and leading a society class. He will always be remembered for his outstanding work in Ceylon. it was under his guidance that the new Wesley College at Colombo was built, at a cost of £15,000, and largely through his unremitting efforts this magnificent structure 'was opened free of debt. He cycled throughout the length and breadth of Ceylon soliciting subscriptions for the enterprise, and actually collected £2500 in this way. He left a lasting impression on the public life of Ceylon. and many of his former pupils came to occupy posts of great administrative responsibility. The present Governor-General of Ceylon is one of his old students. The Education Officer for Ceylon writes: Like "Arnold of Rugby ", he will ever be remembered as "Highfield of Wesley ".' He excelled as an expository preacher, his intimate knowledge of New Testament Greek enabling him to present ever-fresh aspects of Christian truth. During his retirement he freely placed his knowledge at the disposal of the probationers in the Ryedale area and guided their studies. He exercised a wonderfully helpful ministry in the homes of his people, where he was ever a welcome visitor. He was utterly consecrated to his Lord and counted no sacrifice too great for the extension of the Kingdom. He was most generous in his financial support of the work of God at home and overseas, and never refused a duty he was able to fulfil. He died at Scarborough on 1st February 1955. in the ninetieth year of his life andi the sixtieth of his ministry. A host of friends in England and Ceylon give thanks for his life of service.


Born in Leeds on 2nd April 1898 into a family whose Methodist roots went back to the days of John Wesley. After leaving school at eighteen he enlisted as a soldier in the First World War, was wounded, taken prisoner and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in Germany. After his release in 1919 he went first to Leeds University and then to Oriel College, Oxford, where he gained his MA. In 1924 the Wesleyan Missionary Society sent him to Ceylon where he became Vice-Principal of Wesley College, Colombo, and where he married Christine Raw, who loyally supported him in all his work. They had two daughters, Margaret and Rachel. From 1929 to 1940 John was Principal of Wesley, moving on to Richmond College where he also became Principal. In 1938 he was accepted for the ministry. He always looked upon his time in Ceylon as a period of great privilege and rich experience. In 1944 the Dalby family returned home and John's first appointment was to the Lincoln (Aldersgate) Circuit, followed by a term in his native county at Pudsey, and then back to Lincolnshire to the Sleaford (Northgate), Lincoln (Central) and Coningsby Circuits. He retired in 1963 to Nettleham and continued to preach in and around Lincoln, becoming deeply involved in the life of the local Methodist Church where he was able to exercise his pastoral gifts to the full; for, scholar though he was, his great interest was always in people. He loved the fellowship of his colleagues and in staff meetings and FK his gentle humour was always appreciated. When old age and failing eyesight brought limitations, John joined the family at Stones Place MHA. Always sturdily independent, he came to terms with dependence, discovering the truth of Milton's words, "They also serve who only stand and wait." No longer able to conduct worship himself, he loved to share in the services at the home. On Christmas morning just before his death he was in his usual place for Holy Communion; as he received the elements John said as always his firm "Amen", in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Such was the manner of his passing from us on 30th December 1989 in the ninety-second year of his age and the fifty-second year of his ministry.


Born in Croydon on 29th June 1910; educated at Croydon High School for Boys and then gained a BA (Honours) and AKC at Kings College, London. He taught for a year in Cairo, returning home to candidate. He entered Wesley House, Cambridge, completing his studies in Berlin, shairing the Finch Travelling Scholarship with the Revd Raymond George. His first station was five years with the MMS in Ceylon, where he was ordained and where he finished as Principal of Wesley College, Colombo. In 1943 he became an army chaplain, serving in Burma and Palestine; whilst on leave he married Eleanor. Service at home was followed by a three-year posting to Egypt, a fruitful period when a number of service personnel accepted Christ, twelve of whom went on to serve in the ministry of various denominations. Further postings at home followed, culminating with his appointment as Senior Methodist Chaplain, based at Aldershot. He finished service after twenty three years in the army, reaching the rank of Colonel. In 1966 he moved to his first home station, as Superintendent of the Watford Circuit. Service in the Winchmore Hill Church followed. On retirement he resigned from the ministry out of principle, serving as field secretary for the Bible Lands Society. Eleanor died in 1977. A year later he married Lucy, and moved to Hemel Hempstead. Here he felt challenged to apply for reinstatement, becoming much loved within the Circuit. He preached with a depth of scholarship which was accessible to ordinary people. A man of tremendous intellect, he was a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society; an expert on archaeology; a keen gardener; chairman of the local Probus Club; National President of The Bible Lands Society and Vice-President of The Garden Tomb Association; a member of the Wesley College (Colombo) Old Boys Association and the Burma Star Association. He delighted in his children, Paul, Mark, Timothy and Hilary and their families, and was cared for with great devotion by Lucy. David's life was a pilgrimage, to many places, into many areas of secular, intellectual and community life, and a spiritual pilgrimage as well. In his own words 'It has all been by God's grace, all of grace.' He died on 5th May 1999 in the eighty-ninth year of his age and the sixty-fourth year of his ministry.

Links to further reading

Mr PH Nonis guided Kingswood through the rapids

By Professor K.M. de Silva

a4The centenary of the birth of Peter Harold Nonis, dedicated schoolteacher and Principal fell on November 13. I was a student in the junior school at Kingswood when he was appointed Principal in 1942, replacing Englishman F.A.I. Utting. Mr. Nonis, the first Sri Lankan Principal since the days of L.E. Blaze, the founder of the school, was one of a distinguished line of Sri Lankans of the 1940s and 50s who took positions in public life hitherto reserved for British officials, mercantile executives and educationists.

Mr. Utting had not been a great success as a Principal, and Nonis's inheritance was thus a difficult one. The senior staff had lost confidence in Mr. Utting's leadership and two of them, J.C.A. Corea and Dudley de Silva left the school, to become in succession, Principals of Royal College, an indication of the quality of teachers that Kingswood had lost. Fortunately many of the teachers rallied round the new Principal, whose immediate task was to repair the damage that had been done. A cadre of younger graduate teachers either fresh from the University of Ceylon, or from Indian Universities were appointed to the school. The task was to halt the deterioration of academic standards that had set in by the early and mid-1940s at senior school level.

Principal's Bungalow

cal1942 was not the most propitious time to take over the administration of a school in Kandy. When Japanese bombs came down on Colombo and Trincomalee in April that year, there was near panic in Colombo and large numbers of people moved to Kandy and the towns nearby. Some of the distinguished schools in Colombo including S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia were affected when their buildings were taken over by the British and Allied Forces. Despite all the problems he had, Nonis took the bold decision to let S. Thomas share the buildings and facilities of Kingswood. Thus an unusual dual session system was organized between the two schools for a couple of years, with the Thomian session being held in the afternoons.

An even more difficult problem loomed ahead. Most missionary schools like Kingswood had to decide whether to join the new free education system or remain independent fee-levying schools, an exceedingly difficult choice. Nonis decided that Kingswood should enter the new educational system.

Kingswood was fortunate that it had a man of Nonis's vision and integrity to handle the transition from the old to the new.

During his 15 years at Kingswood, Nonis guided the school safely through the rapids of an era of remarkable changes in education and in politics. His record of dedicated service to the school, unmatched since the early years of its existence, made him the obvious choice to fill the post of Principal of his old school Wesley, when it became vacant in 1957.

Over the years as the process of bureaucratization of education became more pronounced one reflected on the past, on principals and teachers of the past, and often used the example of men like P.H. Nonis as a point of comparison, in the more troubled times when school principals and teachers could no longer resist bureaucratic and political pressures.

Christine Weaver’s (nee Cartman) visit to Wesley – March 2011

 The plaque outside the Cartman Library commemorating Christine's visit

On Thursday 3rd March 2011 my husband Michael and I paid a memorable visit to Wesley.  We had already spent over 3 weeks touring in Sri Lanka and were ending our holiday in Colombo.  Principal Shanthi McClelland had kindly asked us to attend the School assembly, but we were quite unprepared for the splendid morning that was in store.

Following our arrival at 7.45 am we were led to the hall by the Senior School Hervisi band through a Guard of Honour composed of members of the College Scout Group.  We then took our seats facing into the hall which was packed with boys, Old-Boys and parents, while on the stage with us were many prominent Old-Boys, members of staff and the other Guest of Honour, Mrs N A B Fernando, widow of Mr N A B Fernando, Principal of Wesley 1995 – 2000. 

A varied Assembly followed including performances by the Junior and Senior Choirs and the College Brass Band, speeches by Primary and Junior students, the College Manager, Mrs Fernando and myself, appointment of Prefects and presentations to prominent Old-Boys.   The Assembly was rounded off by a spirited rendering of the College Song and the National Anthem.

The Cartman Library

We then went out into the warm sunshine to inspect a number of new facilities including an IT room, a performing Arts Centre and the site for the proposed swimming pool.  My particular joy was our visit to the Cartman Library which has been splendidly renovated and equipped.  My father, James Cartman, would have been so proud to see the facility he instigated being so well used and clearly one in which the students take such pride.  Our visit ended with ‘short-eats’ on the terrace accompanied by Staff and Old-Boys.  The two beautifully decorated cakes commemorating the 137th Anniversary of Wesley College were cut and we all enjoyed a slice.

I am sure that all the present students and all the Old-Boys, whether they be in Sri Lanka or abroad, have every reason to be immensely proud of Wesley College, and I hope that they will continue to support it to ensure that it has a successful future.  I will continue to follow Wesley’s progress with great interest and hope that it will not be too long before we can make another visit

Christine and Shanthi McLelland in front of board listing past Principals

Christine addressing the Assembly --- Cutting the cakes - Mrs Fernando is behind Christine

The Assembly and Christine with the newly appointed Head Prefect


Christine Weaver

April 2011

My thanks to Michael and Christine Weaver for sending me the photos and the account of their visit to Wesley - Editor

Wesley Founders Day – 2011 by Christine Weaver nee Cartman

3rd April 2011

Visit to Wesley College always a great pleasure

A visit to Sri Lanka and particularly to Wesley College is always a great pleasure. The early years of one’s life are so influential and mine were spent in Sri Lanka. My father Rev James Cartman and my mother Winifred sailed for what was then Ceylon soon after their marriage in 1937 and settled in Batticaloa, my father having accepted the post of Principal of Methodist Central Col1ege. It was during this period that I was born in 1940. My mother and I were evacuated back to the UK in 1942, my father remained behind.

Photo: Mrs Winfred and Rev James Cartman

Thus I have no memories of life in Batticaloa. My memories of Colombo, however, are very vivid. After a short furlough in UK, my father returned as Principal of Wesley College in Colombo where he set about restoring the college to its old premises, which had been occupied by the Army during the war.

My first memories were of living in a bungalow on Baseline Road until the Principal’s bungalow was ready for us. I attended the kindergarten at Wesley, with Mrs. Leembrugan as my teacher before moving to the Hill School in Nuwara Eliya. School holidays were spent at Wesley and I enjoyed many happy hours in the compound there.

The Cartman Library in 2012

I can remember vividly hating the idea of leaving Sri Lanka when in 1949, my father decided to return to the UK. I believe that he felt very strongly that the Principal should be a local man following Independence. England seemed a very alien place to me then. Naturally it is home now.

I completed my education at Bromley High School in Kent, and then went to London University to read Zoology - graduating in 1961. It was at University that I met Michael Weaver and we were married in 1962, moving to Bristol where I made use of the post­graduate teaching certificate I had gained in London to teach at a Teacher Training College. My husband worked at Roll-Royce for four years, after which we moved to Fleet in Hampshire for him to take up a post as a Government Scientist at the Royal Aerospace Establishment. 45 years later we still live there. We have two sons, David and Andrew, and a daughter Kate. We also have three grandsons and three granddaughters all of whom live near to us.

Although England is undoubtedly home now, I still feel a sense of belonging when I return to Sri Lanka. My parents had kept in touch with several friends and they have always welcomed us most warmly. When we visited in 1999, we were able to see the college chapel which had recently been completed, and when we visited in 2002 we admired the Junior School classrooms which had only commenced construction in 1999.

It is fortunate for us that Wesley celebrates its Founder’s Day in March, which we consider a good time, weather-wise to visit and we have been delighted to be guests at various College and Old Boys celebrations. We are currently again on holiday in Sri Lanka and are very much looking forward to a visit to Wesley on March 3. I will particularly wish to see the Cartman Library, named after my father, and to see all the improvements we have been told of. It will be, as always, a great pleasure to return my old haunts at Wesley and to see again my old friends from Wesley days.

Christine Weaver

Christine Weaver (nee) Cartman Visits Wesley College

February 1999

It is quite fortuitous that in the 125th year none other than Christine Weaver, daughter of Rev. James Cartman, along with her husband, Michael Weaver, found the time to visit Wesley They were in the Island for nearly three weeks, being there Second visit after 1994. Christine Cartman had her early education at Wesley at the time when her father was the Principal, and Shelton Peiris and Edmund

Dissanayake recall those happy days.

Christine Weaver graduated with first class Honours in Zoology from the University of London. where she met her future husband Michael Weaver. who also obtained a First Class Honours degree in Engineering from Imperial College. London. They were married in 1962, at Winchcaube Church, where Rev. Cartman was the Vicar. They have three children, David (30yrs), Andrew (30yrs) and Kate (25yrs).

They concluded an interesting tour of Sri Lanka which included visits to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya during January / February 1999. They were entertained at Dinner by a few Wesley friends and on Monday the 15th February '99 they graced the morning assembly at Wesley College, arranged by the Principal. On the same evening the Old Boys' Union held a Garden Party at which they were the Chief Guests.

Michael and Christine Weaver are indeed friends of Wesley. and will always be welcome to our Island.

March 2002

Weavers visit to Sri Lanka . Christine & Michael Weavers have visited SL many times.At this time after a 5 day tour of the ruined cities they returned to Colombo on the 1st march. On the 2nd March they attended the AGM lunch of the Wesley OBU., and participated in the ceremony of the un-veiling of the photographs of Hon Minister MH Mohammed, and former Principal NAB Fernando. On the 4th they attended a special College Assembly, Christine Weaver addressed the students. They also made a tour of the College, and in particular the Cartman Library. The Weavers attended a lunch and get-together at the home of Neville & Suveni Weerasekera, on the 4th March, in which Shelton Peiris, Mervyn Peiris, Vivian Jayaweera, Edmund Dissanayake participated.


L to R: : Shelton Peiris, Christine Weaver, Mervyn Peiris and MAM Sheriff,LV Jayaweera standing


L to R: Shelton Peiris, Christine Weaver, and MAM Sheriff


At Mr. N.S.Weerasekera's residence: From L to R : Mervyn Peiris, Suveni Weerasekera, Mrs. Christine Weaver, Michael Weaver, Edmund Dissanayake, Vivian Jayaweera, MAP Fernando, Shelton Peiris, Neville Weerasekera


I am very sorry to have to let you know that my mother, Winifred, died last Saturday, 10 January 2009.

Please would you convey this sad news to Shelton and others who may have known her.

Her funeral is to be held at 12 noon on Tuesday 20 January at Aldershot Crematorium.

Michael and I both hope that you and all our friends in Colombo are keeping well, and that the apparent better news that is in our press concerning a possible approaching end to your country's internal conflicts comes to fruition.

Will be in contact again fairly soon,

Very best wishes,


From N S Weerasekera

Dear Christine & Michael,

Many thanks for letting me know of the sad news of the passing of Mrs.Cartman. I will certainly inform Shelton and Edmund Dissanayake who will recall memories of her at Wesley many decades ago.

I do not know whether you have visited the Wesley College web site, if not, it would be a worthwhile recollection of Wesleys history.

Please accept our condolences

Neville & Suveni Weerasekera

Photo: Mrs Winfred and Rev James Cartman

Biographical sketch of Rev. Henry Highfield

Edited by Rev.W.J.T.Small

This publication was kindly sent to me by Mr.T.Joseph Simpson, Vancouver, Canada 5th February 2002


When I was asked by the Old Boys of Wesley to compile a memorial record of the life and work of the Rev. Henry flighfield, I gladly consented, because it gave me an opportunity of repaying something of the personal debt I owe him. Not only did he give me valuable encouragement and help when I first came to Ceylon young and inexperienced, and showing much kindness throughout our years here together, but I feel that much of the regard that has been shown me since my return to Ceylon four and a half years ago is due to the fact that I represent to many a whole line of missionary Principals, and especially two of the greatest of them, Highfield of Wesley and Darrell of Richmond.

This memoir is chiefly made up of extracts from Highfield's personal letters, treasured by his old pupils and friends, and I am grateful to all who have kindly placed them at my disposal. Of the tributes received from old pupils some have been woven into the record. Four representative ones have been given it full as appendices.

I have done my best but am conscious of its inadequacy. May what has been written be-as Highfield himself would desire that it should be-" to the greater glory of God ".

W.J.T Small

Nuwara Eliya,

17th April, 1950.


Photo of the author - Rev W.J.T Small

The life of Henry Highfield naturally divides itself into three periods of equal length.

First there is the period of 80 years from 1865-1895 before his coming to Ceylon. From the point of view of his chief lifework at Wesley this may be regarded as a period of preparation.

Then comes the period of work in Ceylon as Principal of Wesley College from 1895 to 1925 during which he made his Great contribution to Wesley and to Ceylon.

Finally there is the period of his subsequent life and work in England from 1925-1955, during which Ceylon and his old friends and pupils here were never absent from his thoughts, and he kept in constant touch with them by correspondence. So, as the first period was a time of preparation, the last was a time of following up, though no longer present in the body, the great work he had done in Ceylon Surely we may think of him as still continuing that work as a part of his higher service

PREPARATION, 1865-1895

Henry Highfield was the eldest son of a Methodist Missionary, Rev. George Henry Highfield, and was born in India. Soon afterwards his parents returned to England where his father continued his ministry. Writing in the Jubilee number of the Wesley College magazine he says that his father was his first and best teacher. It was not till he was 12 years old that he went to school, when he entered Kingwood School, Bath, a boarder. This was the school founded by John Wesley for the education of the sons of his preachers. Here he studied hard, and passed a public examination each year, ending with the London Inter Arts at 17. From a boy he was a keen collector of butterflies, and this earned him at School the nickname of "Buggins "". He found time for games too, and got into the 1st XI. at Cricket and the Rugby XV. .

There are no other record of his childhood extant, but his youngest brother, George, who was 18 years his juniors, gives the following interesting account of his early recollections of him

As a youngster I always held him in great awe. He seemed so terribly learned and serious. What I do remember clearly is his great devotion to our Mother. He and she were called by the rest of us as 'The Spartans', as they were both early risers and devotees of the cold tub, and I can well recall in the darkness of winter 'mornings hearing him pumping the water for their early baths and cups of tea."

After leaving school he took lip teaching and tutorial work, being attached for some time to the University Tutorial College, London, and it was In this connection that he came to Cambridge. He had already taken the London BA, but decided to take the opportunity of studying for the Classical Tripos. It was at this time that he formed a friendship with another Methodist, J. H. Darrell, who had already been studying for a year for the Mathematical 'Tripos when he arrived. This friendship was continued at Richmond Theological Colleges Surrey, where Darrell preceded him by a year to study for the Methodist Ministry. Soon after came the call for a Missionary to go out to Ceylon as Principal of Wesley, and Highfield was chosen for the post. His friend Darrell followed a year later to become Principal of Richmond College, Galle, until his early death in 1906. It is difficult to say which of them was the greater, and I am sure each of them would have said it was the other. These two friends were indeed a great gift of God to His Church and to Ceylon.


Henry Highfield sailed from London for Ceylon in the "Golconda" in September, 1895, and on arrival immediately took charge of Wesley College as Principal. Wesley had had able and devoted Principals before him, but the old buildings in the Pettah had become, quite inadequate, and were situated in one 'of the noisiest and dustiest parts of Colombo. One of his first big tasks was to raise money to purchase a more suitable site, and build new premises there. It was in carrying out this task 'that he made his name and made Wesley. He was released from his College duties for a year during 1903 and 1904 to tour Ceylon 'collecting subscriptions, and the Missionary Society promised to have another Rs. 5/- for every rupee collected in Ceylon. They little realized what Highfield was capable of! With a pushbike as his only means of transport he toured the length and breadth of Ceylon, visiting the homes of all the Old Boys he could hear of, as well as many others-planters and mudalalis, Christians and non-Christians. Often he reached their houses well-nigh exhausted, and there were few who could refuse one so devoted, self-sacrificing and transparently sincere. His collections reached the total of Rs. 88,000/-, and when the Missionary Society had somewhat reluctantly honoured its promise there was a sum of about Rs. 225,000/- available, a very large sum of money in those days. With this the Karlsruhe site, which had already been purchased by the Mission at the end of 1902, was paid for, and the beautiful two-storey block of buildings, including the fine Assembly Hall, erected. The foundation stone was laid on 4th November, 1905, while Highfield was on furlough, and Rev. P. M. Brumwell was acting for him, and the New Wesley was opened by His Excellency the Governor early in 1907.

Of this time Mr. Brumwell writes :-" I took on Highfield's job for two years while he went on his pilgrimage of collecting funds for the building of the new college. No one can ever imagine the endurance and self-sacrifice of this saint of earlier days in his journeys to accomplish that great end. It was not in the days of motor cars but on his bicycle that he did it all. And cycling up those hills of Ceylon, and in all weathers, was a feat of endurance which can only be imagined by those who have done it. People see Wesley College today and few realize how it came to be built. Yet it is due to time heroic labours of one man, and Thousands who have received their training there, and are what they are today for that reason, owe it to Henry Highfield."

In the meanwhile in 1899 Highfield had married a gentle missionary lady, Miss Minnie Buck, and the address presented to him on this occasion hives evidence of the high regard which he had already won at that time. Here it is:

We, masters, students and pupils, gladly avail ourselves of this opportunity to congratulate you on your marriage.

"Our pleasure is enhanced by the fact that your choice has fallen on a lady who has so closely identified herself with missionary and educational work, and has won the affection of all who have had time privilege of knowing her.

In deference to the marked disapproval you have always shown of anything being said in praise of you or your labours, we refrain from giving expression to our sentiments as we would otherwise wish to; but we cannot let this occasion pass without alluding to the high regard and admiration we entertain for you, and our full appreciation of your great concern for the moral and spiritual advancement of the boys committed to your care, as evidenced by the daily impressive services, class makings and divinity lectures, and of your keen sympathy with their educational ambitions, and interest in their physical culture.

Photo- Principal's House during Rev Highfield's reign

As to the relations existing between you and the masters, the very cordial harmony with which we have worked together is ample evidence, and needs no comment. In your capacity as Head of this institution, you have maintained a discipline unique of its kind over nearly 500 boys, and we congratulate you, Sir, that this discipline has not been enforced by intimidation or the severe inflictions of the rod, hut preserved by your strict impartially and keen sense of discrimination in dealing with boys of different nationalities and creeds, and by such treatment of the boys, which, though at times necessarily severe, was yet so administered as to give them the full assurance that you have the true interest of every individual at heart.

We shall pray God to bless you both and grant you every blessing and in again offering you our sincere gratulations we beg your acceptance of this small gift as a token of our affection for you and of our very best and heartiest wishes for your future.

A few short years of happy home life were granted them before Mrs. Highfield's early death. they visited the Holy Land together on their way to England in 1905, and an account of their tour, dedicated to "my beloved wife;" has been preserved. They evidently made full use of their three weeks there, visiting Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus, Nazareth, Tiberias and Haifa. It must have been a strenuous journey, for all the travelling had to be done in those days on foot, mule-back, or where the road was comparatively good by horse-carriage. Prominent in the account are the many references to time trees and flowers seen in different parts of Palestine, and the account ends with a list of the wild flowers they were able to identify, and where they were found. All his life long Highfield retained his interest in butterflies and flowers as many of the letters written after his retirement show. It was a thrilling experience for both of them to feel that they were treading in the Saviour's footsteps, and to look up together the Bible references to the many places they visited.

On their return from furlough they canine to live at Karlsruhe where the New Wesley was already rising. It was in their home there that time writer was kindly welcomed as a newly arrived missionary early in November, 1906, and less than two months later Rev. P. T. Cash, first Vice-Principal of Wesley, followed.

We are able to quote his first impressions: "I first met Highfield on the deck of the Orient Line Steamer in Colombo harbour, and caught a glimpse of his resolute, courageous, yet withal most kindly face. He was dressed in a white drill suit buttoned to time top, which give him a military appearance, and there was something military too in time way in which he walked. We soon commenced to talk and to get to know each other better. On that day I first of all went up to Karlsruhe, which in vacation time seemed a veritable abode of peace. Highfield and I went up to Nuwara Eliya that evening and occupied ' sitting' places in a Second Class carriage-a democratic way of spending the night. I slept little, and was tired when morning came to show us the glorious landscape around Nanuoya. Highfield, quite inured to rather rough conditions, was quite fresh. We were able to get a brandy at Nuwara Eliya Station, and so proceed easily to Devon Cottage, where Mrs. Highfield was staying, and waiting to welcome us. I caught a glimpse of their life together, very happy and completely harmonious."

It was less than four months later that Mrs. Highfield died from enteric fever. She was buried in the Colombo Cemetery, and liner grave can still be seen near the Nonconformist Chapel. Her death was a hard blow for Highfield, but his Christian faithsustained him. Cash has the following wrote in his diary for 20th April, 1907: "Mr. H. is bearing up well, but with great effort; his life during these last days has been a magnificient display of heroic Christianity. He is a fine Christian, patient, persevering full of sympathy for others, self-forgetful; it makes me feel small at the thought of my complaints about trifles."

Cash's coming to Wesley was a great help to Highfield as he was a science graduate and was able to develop that side of the curriculum. Later, when he married, he and Mrs. Cash developed the Boarding house.

Teaching was to Highfield a labour of love, especially the teaching of Scripture, Classics and English Literature, and he spared no pains to make his lessons effective by means of cyclostyled notes, etc. His teaching, his strenuous living, and above all his sincere Christian character left a deep impression on both his pupils and colleagues as is manifest from the tributes which follow.

Of Highfield as a teacher Rev. James Cartman, in an appreciation written just after his death, quotes from a pamphlet published at the time of his retirement from Wesley: "He was a born teacher with a faculty of lucid exposition. There was the delicate precision of the clear careful thinker. In his teaching his exact scholarship and careful preparation gave a lesson something of the finish of a work of art. He stimulated the thought and observation of those who sat at his feet, and there are many who owe aim incalculable debt of gratitude to him for arousing their interest in the ancient classics, and in the glory of English prose and poetry. Those who have heard his public lectures on these fascinating themes have found them to be a liberal education.''

In the course of the same appreciation Mr. Cartman says:

"To claim that a Public School has been responsible for the education of boys who later have filled responsible posts in every walk of life is not of itself remarkable. But Highfield of Wesley College, Colombo, was called to guide and influence for good so many of the boys of Ceylon who today occupy such posts in a country which has so recently been granted independence and taken its place as a Dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations. When I arrived in Ceylon in 1988, many important posts in Government Service, in Education, in the Judiciary, in Planting and Commerce, were filled by Europeans. Today they are filled by Ceylonese, and many of them men who were Highfield's students, Men who have proved worthy of the heavy responsibilities entrusted to them. When Independent Ceylon selected her first three ambassadors, and sent them to England, the U.S.A., and India, they were all three Highfield's students. One of them is now the Governor-general of Ceylon, the first Ceylonese to occupy that high office."

That is one important side of the truth, but there is another side, equally important, which is well brought out in the following tribute from an old pupil which was published in the Guardian" soon after Highfield's death

Ceylon is indeed indebted to the late Rev. Highfield for time invaluable contribution he made to the educational life of this Island. There are grateful students of his who would gladly acknowledge that their present position in Life is entirely due to the encouragement given to them by him. There are others who recall with gratitude the ennobling influence that his exemplary life had on their lives, whilst there are yet others who have been benefited by his many unostentatious acts of generosity and kindness.

" His true greatness lay in a genuine and deep Christian faith. Although a man of great culture and education, his Christian faith was simple and sincere. His childlike faith could be clearly seen from the following words which he used to describe to his students the death-scene of his beloved wife:

'Nothing can dissuade me from accepting the fact that my first wife saw Jesus whom she passed from death to life; the bright smile that shone on her face as she breathed her last convinced me beyond all doubt that she saw Jesus.' One of his greatest characteristics was his undoubted sincerity of heart and purpose. All kinds of dishonesty were anathema to him. his life was an open book to all of us who watched him day in and day out, and admired his straightforwardness and fearlessness in the defense of the truth.

he was a very humble follower of his Master. Simple in his dress and manners, he moved with all sorts and conditions of men without any kind of superiority complex. Whom he went to witness the cricket matches at Campbell Park, he very often sat on the grass along with the common people such as vendors of gram, amid among the lowliest of human beings. The poor often approached him for help, and with the utmost secrecy he used to open his purse and pass a coin or two to them. At school picnics, which he never failed to attend, he insisted that no special table should be prepared for his meals ; he ate with the boys and shared the string-hoppers and curry. Although a man of strong temper, he was humble enough to apologies even to his pupils or teachers when he felt that he had been too harsh. One night when the boarders were all asleep, Mr. Highfield was seen coming with a lantern in his hand and knocking at the room of a Boarding Master. What had actually happened was that, as he knelt in prayer before he retired to bed, he felt he had done something which he must rectify before uttering his prayers. He humbly came out of his bed to make the necessary amends.

"Every act of his, whether in the school or outside, revealed his love and eagerness to be of service. Many parents who found it difficult to pay school fees were helped by him in many ways. Even after he had retired (from Wesley) many benefited by his self-sacrifice, he bore the entire expenses of the education of a son of a teacher at Wesley College who had died. In addition the mother of the boy sent a further request for help and he at once asked the Treasury to pay it to her from his pension. An old Wesleyites who had recovered from tuberculosis requested his intervention to obtain re-employment. When he received this letter he at once remitted £10 to this old Wesleyites..

"He was very kindhearted and considerate to his servants who never left him during the whole period of his work in Ceylon. He paid them well and was helpful to them in many ways. These servants had many interesting anecdotes to relate regarding his acts of kindness to them and to all those who came to him for help. His gentleness extended even to pet animals. Once as he stepped out of the Boarding Hall his foot accidentally struck a cat that was passing by. He knelt, stroked it, kissed it, and took it to his house full of expressions of regret for the little pain he had caused her. A more pure soul we have never met before or after. It was from him that many learnt their first lessons of purity of mind and soul-' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'.

" We are apt to assess his influence by the number of Wesleyites who have attained to high positions in the public life of this country. But what about those hundreds of Old Wesleyites in humbler walks of life who have been influenced by his noble character to lead lives of honesty and integrity? Many old Wesleyites have expressed their conviction that it was the abiding influence of his example that kept them from acts of meanness and dishonesty." That is the other side of the truth about the influence of Henry Highfield on Ceylon.

Mr. P. H. Nonis, Principal of Kingwood, who was both pupil, and colleague in the later years, writes of Highfield as Teacher and Principal

It was in July, 1918, that I first met Rev. Henry Highfield when he interviewed me for admission to Wesley. My earliest Impression of him is that of a tireless worker, an inspiring teacher and a vigorous writer of English prose. I came under his direct influence when, with four others, I joined his Sixth Form (London Inter Arts). The five of us regarded him not merely as the Principal of the School but also as our Form Master, for we spent most of our time in class within him, while he performed the duties of a conscientious class teacher. He excelled as a teacher of English Literature and Classics."

One more tribute from one of Highfield's pupils, published soon after his death in the "Search Light," may be quoted here. It carries us back to the critical years of the First World War, and illustrates an important side of his character.

It is extremely difficult to write about a person one holds in deep reverence and affection. Mr. Highfield is one such to me. I have known him (in Ceylon) for two decades. I had known him from a distance when I was a boy of 9 years at Wesley, and more intimately in time higher forms. The impact of his life on mine changed the entire future for me; I began to think differently, act differently, and almost unconsciously I was shaping my life after his pattern, though how very feebly and falteringly I alone know. Now in my three score years and ten I thank God for that impact. He was a most faithful servant of God, who walked humbly beside Him. Honest and kind to a fault, fearless and god-fearing, in Him he lived and moved and had his being. Little wonder that those who came into contact with him loved him.

"An incident or two in Mr. Highfield's life will show the real greatness of the man. When in that awful crisis during World War I. our government ran amok, and surrendered its administration to the Military-when our leaders like Sir D. B. Jayatilleke and the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake and others were lugged along to jail without a charge or a trial, and some were shot to quell the riots-it was an Englishman, Highfield of Wesley, who wrote to the Governor thus "This is not what I was taught at Cambridge as British fair-play" ". He thereby stood a chance of facing a firing squad, for the mood of the Military Government was unpredictable and uncertain.

One more incident from this time of civil commotion, when rioting, looting and shooting were a common feature. One afternoon a mob were attempting to loot the Muslim boutique adjacent to our College tuck-shop at Baseline Road. About 30 or '40 men were trying to break through from the front entrance. The Moorman had barred it, and he and his family had hid inside, when I noticed Mr. H.Highfield hastily making his way to the spot.

I followed hard on his heels, ready for any emergency. Mr. Highfield pressed his way through the snarling crowd, and placing his back against the planks shouted, 'Go away; go away Immediately the crowd fell back and, one by one, they slunk away. We took the entire family of eight, men, women and children, to a College dormitory, till the Military came on the following day.'Highfield's courageous actions at this time made a deep impression, and have never been forgotten.

Going back a little further in time, Highfield had married again in 1910. The second Mrs. Highfield, who had been for a number of years Principal of the Pettah Girls' School, devoted herself to helping her husband in his work, and rendered much valuable service to him and to the College.

In 1920 Mr. and Mrs. Cash were transferred to Central College, Jaffna, where they had a long period of fruitful service till 1939. His successor was Rev. E. C. Horler, who had already served in West Africa, but after three years he had to return to England owing to ill health. In 1924, Rev. John Dalby came out as Vice-Principal. By this time Highfield had decided that, after nearly 30 years service, it was time for a younger man to take his place, and the Missionary Society was looking out for a suitable man with sufficient experience.

Mr. Dalby lived with the Highfields until their departure, and his impressions will be of interest. " Within regard to administration I think it is only fair to say that he depended a good deal upon Mrs. Highfield. In the days before there was a College office it was she who checked the fee receipts and marked the defaulters, and quite often she helped with totaling the registers. But this was not because Highfield could not do such details, and do them quickly, but because he was almost always pressed by other duties. He did get through an amazing amount of work. It must be remembered that, in addition to being Principal of Wesley, he undertook pastoral duties at Maradana Church, and for a few months also lectured at the newly established University College.

"'The day's programme at Karlsruhe was strictly regulated. Meal times were observed most punctually, not because Highfield cared for the pleasures of timetable, but because he could not bear to waste time. My outstanding impression of him was his methodical habit of life, and his energy. He made reams of notes-very good ones too-for his students. He did not use a typewriter, and all the notes were written out in a rapid but most legible hand, and then rolled off on the old hand Gestetner duplicator, usually by Highfield himself. He loved teaching, and spent as much time as possible with his senior classes. I used to think sometimes that it would have been better if he had done less teaching, and spent a few of the periods in supervision. But I don't think that was his line, and it is a great deal for his personal contacts within his boys that he is remembered."When the time for parting came, it was a hard wrench both for Highfield and for his pupils and colleagues. The feelings of the students were expressed in a beautifully illuminated address read by the Senior Prefect, Leslie Nonis:

"We take this opportunity of expressing our heartfelt regret at your departure from our midst. For nearly 30 years you have been the Head of Wesley College. No other educationalist in this Island has had a record so long and honourable as yours. We recognize in you, Sir, one whose life has been dedicated to the service of the people of this country. During the period of your Principal ship your name has come to be regarded as synonymous with the great ideals for which Wesley stands, and it is difficult, nay almost impossible, for us to reconcile ourselves to Wesley College without Rev. Highfield. "The College stands as a monument to your courage and energy. Not the least of your achievements for the School has been its removal to our present ideal surroundings, and you have had the joy of seeing Wesley fighting its way to the front rank of educational institutions.

"Your departure will leave a void which it will be difficult to fill, and we are certain that, in the future, your name would be to all Wesleyites not a mere memory but an inspiration."

A large number of old pupils met at the Colombo Jetty to see the Highfield off. In wishing them good-bye he said, " I do not think I shall meet you again unless some of you visit England". This proved to be true, for while a number of those present did later see him in England. He did not return to Ceylon again. in 1936 the Old Boys, through time O.B.U., sent him an invitation to visit Ceylon, offering to bear all expenses. his reply to the Secretary, (quoted by the late Mr. Sam Van Hoff in an interesting article entitled " A Bunch of Forget-me-nots 'written in connection with the Jubilee,) is characteristic ___" I thank the Old Boys' Union Committee and yourself most heartily for so generous and so evidently hearty a desire to see me again in Ceylon. I have given the proposal very careful and prayerful consideration, and, much as I should like to accept it, I feel convinced that I had better not. I have never spent much upon myself, nor allowed others to spend much upon me. And now that I am past 70 years of age I do not feel justified in breaking a good custom."

Again at the time when Ceylon gained her Independence the Prime Minister (the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake) invited him to the celebrations as a guest of the Government, but he once more declined the invitation on similar grounds. as well as on that of advancing years.

An account of Highfield's work in Ceylon would be incomplete without a reference to the duties he discharged for a number of years in connection within the Methodist Church at Maradana. He conducted a weekly class for the members and visited them in their homes. In spite of his heavy and exacting duties as College Principal he proved himself a faithful pastor, and his work there is still gratefully remembered.

Just after the news of his death had been received Mr. Blacker wrote in the "Ceylon Methodist Church Record ", "The death of Rev. Henry Highfield brings to an end a personal relationship with one whose life and companionship had been an inspiration to all during his 30 years with the Maradana Methodist Church, and even so after his departure to his homeland."

Mrs. Loos writes, ' My earliest memory is of a Sunday lunch which Mr. Highfield shared with us in our home, the Mission House in Maradana Church Compound. We children were struck by the reverend visitor's not leaving even a single grain of rice on his plate; we heard later that this was the discipline he practiced in time matter of food-no excess and no waste.

"Then there was the weekly class meeting which time older members of the Church attended, and to which we teenagers went, sometimes reluctantly, but more often with a sense of privilege. At these meetings, and in the pulpit, he made us conscious of his close fellowship within the unseen world. His humility, great scholar though he was, and his complete self dedication, impressed us all."

ENGLAND, 1925-1955

(a) IN CIRCUIT WORK, 1925-1936,


(a) Mr. W. St. C. Blacker has preserved Mr. Highfield's letters to him after he left Ceylon in 1925, and they give an interesting record of his work in the different Circuits in which he laboured in England. The first letter dated 17-9-25 tells of his wife's death soon after their arrival in England. Of this he writes, "I cannot but believe that an all-loving and all-under-standing Father can shield and keep her better than I did who loved her so truly and was so truly loved." He had been asked to supply for three months for the Superintendent of the Worthing 'Circuit who had had a break down of health, and though still stunned by the blow was about to start work there. He concludes, "I am to start on Sunday, September 27th. I pray God may make me useful, and will wait His time for time eternal reunion."

Photo of Rev Henry Highfield taken by Mr KM De Lanerolle in 1952

The next letter is from Aberystwyth at the centre of the Welsh Coast, where he was stationed in 1926 and stayed three years. Of the work he writes: "I like the place and the work:

Though it is a very small circuit with only one Church and 100 members yet there is scope for good work among them. The country is very beautiful and the coast line is hilly and varied with many beautiful little bays." Next year on August 29th he writes: " I can look back with much thankfulness on the year here which closes this week. I have not achieved all I hoped for, and yet I feel God has been helping me in the new work. This is a holiday place during the summer months and our Church was built with a view to giving the English visitors in a Welsh-speaking town proper opportunities of worship. I am glad to say that they do take advantage of those services, for the attendance during July and August has been very good. During the months October-March we seldom get more than 50 on a Sunday morning and 10 in the evening. During the last two months we must have averaged 350 both morning and evening. Such differences between winter and summer work make it a bit puzzling to know how to deal with the situation. In the summer a full church of constantly changing individuals, in time winter a handful whom you know much more really. I feel they are my real charge." A year later he writes : "We are doing well in a quiet way and making some advance and improvement financially, but I long for more definite signs in matters spiritual."

Later this same year (1928) he writes of a fortnight's holiday in Pickering, Yorks., with his sisters amid brothers, which he had enjoyed greatly. Also of two happy weekend Missionary Reputations, during the first of which he stayed with his old Ceylon friend, Rev. R. C. Oliver, and during the second with Mrs. Moscrop, widow of the former Principal of Wesley, whom he had not seen since 1900 when the Moscrops finally left Ceylon. The same letter mentions a letter received from Prof. Leigh Smith telling of the winning of the Arts' Scholarship by young Ludowyk, an old pupil of his, and also one from Rev. James Nathanielsz.

Photo- The Vice Principal's Bungalow

His last letter from Aberystwyth is written on 27-5-29, and may be quoted at some length: "Thanks for the enclosed Colombo (Circuit) Plan. I am always pleased to work over it and think of the churches and their preachers. I quite share your feeling for the lovely hills there are spots here that by a combination of cycling and pushing I can in an hour get away to-lovely heights inhabited only by sheep-and there look out on the distant sea amid the surrounding hills, and I feel it spiritually refreshing. During the summer I like to get away on a Saturday afternoon or evening. I find it helps me for my Sunday services. I do not know where I shall be appointed next, but I am not troubled. There is good work to do anywhere."

His next letter written on Christmas Eve the same year is from Marazion, Cornwall, to which he was appointed in September. This was a great change with 12 chapels and only a young probationer to help him. Moreover in the winter time, being situated on the coast in the extreme S.W., it was subject to strong Atlantic gales, often accompanied with pouring rain, which made travelling, especially on a push-bike, difficult. In November his Mother-in-law, who had been living with him for the last two years, had died, and he speaks of feeling lonely this Christmas more than 500 miles away from his own folk in Yorkshire. He goes on: " I do not know whether I shall feel able to carry on the work of this circuit more than one year. I have usually three services every Sunday and a good deal of week-evening preaching in Marazion itself or time village Chapels. I find the night journeys on the pushbike rather trying, but I should find walking more trying still, so, as I am 64, I think it probable I shall try to get another circuit where the means of travel are more convenient, and I hope I may be nearer my own folk

But in spite of all these drawbacks he stayed five years there, doing heroic work for Overseas Missions and Home Missions with the help of his magic lantern, and his own and other slides. Two letters written during this time to Mr. A. F. H. Sandaratne and one to Mr. S. V. 0. Somanader will complete the picture of these years. On 13-1-31 he writes

The winter work in this circuit means a good deal of exposure to all kinds of weather. But I am glad to say that I have come through wonderfully well. I had a nasty cold and cough early in December, and recently an attack of lumbago. I bought a magic lantern in the autumn, and have used it for all my missionary meetings, Foreign and Home. As I became more expert in using it the interest grew, and the Funds have benefited accordingly almost always preach three times a Sunday, and usually in three separate places, and have the Sacrament to administer about nine or ten times a quarter as my young colleague is not ordained ".And again on 26-11-31 (referring to an attack made by rowdies), he writes I am glad to say that my injuries are all healed up, and that I am at work, and have been since November 8th much as usual. I have given a correct account to Mr. Beaty who may put something about it into the C.M.C.B.One good thing it did was to get me into touch with two O.W.'s in England, Mr. A. H. Nathanielsz' son Vivian, who is at Loughborough Engineering College, and Mr. E. F. C. Ludowyk who is having a brilliant career at Cambridge.

I am in the midst of my round of the village chapels for F.M. anniversaries. I have accomplished eight out of twelve, but this week the weather is very wet, and one meeting had to be postponed and another was rather spoiled through bad weather."

To Mr. S. V. O. Somanader he writes on 7-1-34

"Today, Sunday, I have taken services in three chapels, one of them being the Covenant Service in the afternoon at Marazion itself. I had a Prayer Meeting after the evening service and cycled home, lit my fire, and got my supper. My housekeeper is usually out on Sundays and so I get my own supper. After supper I wrote to Mr. Cash-they are soon starting back to Ceylon.

I have entered on my 5th year in this circuit, but it is to be my last. I hope to take one more circuit after conference but I don't know where. I should like to get nearer to my brothers and sisters in Yorkshire.

I had a very pleasant meeting at the end of May in London with O.E. Goonetilleke, C.B., Dharmasena, and F. W. B. Adikaram.

I hope 1934, with the Jubilee of the O.B.A. will be a very good year for Wesley and all old Wesleyites, especially yourself." He was nearly 69 when he left Marazion in September 1934 to serve as second Minister in the Dudley Circuit. Here his responsibilities were lighter and his work less heavy.

On 26th December, 1934, he writes to Mr. Blacker: " I am 300 miles nearer the home of my brothers and sisters-Pickering, and nearer to London where my youngest brother and his wife and daughter live. So I feel well content to stay and work on for three years and then retire. I am now in the 40th year of my Ministry and just starting the 70th year of my life, and acknowledge the goodness of God in the land of the living.''

'The following December, 1935, he writes: " if I live to Christmas I shall be 70 years old, and I feel how very good God has been to me and how far beyond reckoning is my debt to Him. May my service that remains, be it long or short, be of truer quality and more perfect obedience."

The previous April he wrote to Mr. Somanader:

"You will see that I have left, Marazion in Cornwall for work in the Midlands . . . It is an industrial area and the work is largely in the heavy metals of iron and steel, with coal mining too. The country is harder to reach than it was at Marazion but is lovely when one gets into it. There are five churches in the circuit, and two Ministers of whom I am the second. All five places are close together so my work is in some ways lighter than it was. And that is just as well, as I am now in my 70th year and not so vigorous, though still keeping in good health. I have been gardening a bit this month and have dug my garden over and planted potatoes and peas. It will be time to plant beans also, and I want to have some flowers to make it bright. Mr. A. F. Bartholomeusz sent me a letter and cuttings about Wesley's Cricket doings and the O.B.U. celebrations, which were very interesting.

I had almost weekly information about the malaria epidemic for I get the Weekly Editorial of the 'Daily News'. I have been much distressed by the tidings. I have heard too from several personal sources including Mrs. J. S. Ratnayake whose family has had experience of it.''

He would no doubt have stayed to complete his three years work at Dudley but for the illness and death of the younger of his two sisters. On 25-11-36 he writes from Pickering: " I and my brothers and sisters have gone through a time of anxiety and of sorrow owing to the illness and death of our younger sister. It began early in the summer of 1935 and she passed away early this last August . . . When the trouble began I felt it right to retire from the duties of the full ministry, and so early this September I came to live with my brother, who like me is a childless widower. I am very happy here and have much to do." So began nearly 20 years of happy and very active retirement in the wide country circuit of Pickering in North Yorkshire.


Of this closing period Rev. P. T. Cash writes

"He retired to Pickering in Yorkshire in 1936, but not to cease from arduous and devoted labour, a tower of strength to each of his colleagues in the Pickering circuit, where he was greatly beloved especially as a pastor. I kept in touch with him right down the years. A letter received from him before last Christmas made me realize with what difficulty he was still carrying on at the age of 89, and though he had to give up preaching a short time ago his indomitable will still served to enable him to remember his friends both in prayer and by letter. His letters to many of the old Wesleyites have exercised a ministry of their own

From some of these letters it is possible to form a vivid picture of his life, and faithful ministry, at Pickering.

On 30-11-37 he writes to Mr. Somanader:

Photo - of Rev Highfield taken on 1949

Though I am retired I continue to do a good deal of work, preaching, and speaking for missions and so on. This month has been more than usually full, for which I have met my class tonight I shall have taken 27 services in its course."

On the same day he writes to Mr. A. F. Bartholomeusz of the death of Mr. C. P. Dias: "Mr. Dias was a great Christian gentlemen, and a great gift to the youth of Ceylon. I am glad C. E. de Pinto and S. P. Foenander have written about him, and I very heartily agree.

Again on 25-8-38 he writes to Mr. Bartholomeusz:

"In less than a week I shall complete my second year as a retired minister, but my list of services taken during that year is already over 200. So it can be seen that retirement only means freedom from the itinerancy and some clerical burdens ministers have to carry. I am in very good health and can cycle 16 miles in an afternoon, as I did yesterday, and not be too tired." For the two years 1941 and 1942 a diary kept by Highfield is available. It well illustrates his methodical habits, for almost every day there is a record of the following

(1) Temperature, weather and barometer reading.

(2) Pastoral visits made.

(3) Letters received and written.

Often too there are records of gifts given and received, of books read, and of meetings and services attended and conducted, as well as occasionally of cycle runs or walks in the woods with descriptions of wild flowers and butterflies seen. There are records too of Latin and Greek lessons given to young ministers or senior schoolboys.

It was wartime, and the critical years of the Battle of Britain too, and though now 76 years of age he took his weekly turn of fire watching from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. One of the last entries for 1941 (Sunday, 28th December) is especially characteristic. After recording a fine and frosty day, temperature 82 degrees, barometer reading 30.40 inches, he writes, "Got my own dinner, and the cats' etc. Then to bus station but no Lockton bus! So I walked up. Got there by 3-20. Called on Mr. Dykes (Mrs. ill), also on Mrs. W. C. Barnes. Had tea with Mrs. Jackson and her son. Took 6-7 service and walked home. Good moon. In at 8-55." Next morning there is an entry, "Stiff after my double walk and two tumbles, but otherwise no worse for the effort."

So the remaining years of the war were spent in active life and happy service, living with his brother, the retired Headmaster of the Pickering Grammar School. But in 1947 changes came.

He writes to Mr. Somanader on 27-5-47:

"Now about myself and the family 1 sister and 4 brothers including myself). 'These last months have been a time of severe trial. First of all my sister on 13th February fell and fractured her hip, and is still in hospital. Then my dear brother, with whom I have lived so happily since I came here in September, 1936, got a severe chill which became pneumonia, and died on 28th March. About eight days later I also got pneumonia and was dangerously ill, but I survived the severity of the M & B treatment, and after getting well enough to go in an ambulance to Scarborough I had a real rest for a fortnight, and came back towards the end of April, and I am steadily regaining strength. I hope to resume preaching next Sunday evening. A fortnight ago I had an enjoyable time with the 5th form at the Grammar School, giving them a talk which I called the Postman's Round, showing how the map helped us to know that 1st Peter came from Rome, and that its bearer returned to Rome, the names being in geographical order-Pontus, Galalia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia.-the first and last being lands on the South Coast of the Black Sea."

After the death of his brother, another brother, who had returned from South Africa in 1944, came to live with him. Then in December 1948, Highfield had a serious fall. He thus describes it in a letter to Mr. Somanader written the following July: "My accident happened on 8th December when I broke my right thigh. That it was fractured was not found out until it was X-rayed on 23rd December. The reason was that the accident reset the injury, and all that was needed was complete rest. The surgeon said it was a most unusual thing. I left hospital on 21st February and since then have been gradually regaining the power of walking. Now I can do a couple of miles fairly well, and I resumed the taking of public services on last Sunday. My name appears on three circuit places, and I have only one Sunday without work up to and including the first in September. My general health is excellent, but both my hearing and sight are getting poorer. But that is not to be wondered at as I am well on in my 84th year."

In the same letter he mentions with pleasure having received news. of the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of Wesley College at which the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake, who presided, paid the following tribute

Photo - Wesley College Circa 1949

People like the Rev. Henry Highfield did not seem to quarrel about education. They got on with the job, and as I look round on those who have led the professions in recent years, the Civil Service, the Judiciary, the Medical Profession, and so on, I do not find that much was wrong with the. education they gave us. The Christian Missionaries had no use for communalism, whether it took the form of colour prejudice or of divisions among the Ceylonese. They not only believed in the brotherhood of man but practiced it ; and they not only practiced it but tried to teach us to practice it. We in our generation as schoolboys, and our fathers before us, worked with and played with all communities. If we have been able to avoid communal troubles, and to have a government in which Singhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers find a place, it must be because we were taught that these distinctions are of no political importance, and that we can keep our respective religions and cultures without bringing them into politics.''

In another letter to Mr. Somanader written the same year (1949) he says, " You could not have sent me a more welcome or delightful gift than the one I received two or three days ago- the photo of the three old Wesleyites now Principals of three Out of the six Methodist Boys' Colleges in Ceylon." The fact that no less than six of his old pupils were at the same time Principals of Christian Colleges was a source of legitimate satisfaction to him. In a letter to Mr. Blacker of 24-12-49 he says, "That there are now six 0.W.'s who are Principals of Christian Colleges is a great joy, and at the same time humbles me, for I cannot see how it has come about."

Two years later he writes to Mr. P. G. de Silva: "I heard recently that you spoke at the O.B. dinner, and gave a list of Old Boys of Wesley in my time who are now heads of Ceylon Schools. I may say that I feel very thankful that there are so many who, because of their time at Wesley, are in such positions. I feel that our headmaster, Mr. C. P. Dias, had a great deal to do with this. I know that he helped me a great deal from the very start, and all the way through." He Closes this letter with the words, " I am getting to time end of my course on earth for I am now well on in my 86th year. God has blessed me far above my desert, but that is what everyone who trusts in Him knows well. It is all of his love through Christ our Saviour."

The same thoughts of God's goodness, and of looking forward to the end which could not now be far away, are expressed in the last two of the 16 Christmas Greeting Cards to his friends which carried a personal message from his heart to many of his old pupils. Here they are:


"I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me'' (Nehemiah 1.18).

The best is yet to be ".-R. BROWNING.

With every good wish

Ever Sincerely

Henry Highfield

October, 1950 PICKERING, Yorkshire,


This, the 16th, must be the last of my Christmas and New Year Greetings.

I am drawn towards time words of old Symeon, found in

Luke II. 28-30, but in a more literal rendering :-V 29 "Great

Master (GR. Despota) Thou are now setting free Thy slave in

Peace according to The word, for my eyes have Seen Thy Saviour

(babe)." The word he used is neuter and concrete, not the usual feminine abstract, salvation. I have added babe (GR. Brephos) since Symeon was holding the babe in his arms). The saying proves the long forward faith of Symeon. It reaches as today, in a world in which Christianity is still a growing babe. For Christmas 1951 and New Year 1952


But it was over three years more before God's servant departed in peace, and though there were no more Christmas Greeting 'Cards there were many personal letters almost to the last.

Here is one to an old pupil attracted towards communism

"I am an old man now and I find it difficult to think of communism as it works in the world today as anything but antichristian, though I believe that there are communists 'who believe they are Christ's, but they can hardly expect others to understand this.

"If in your deepest thoughts you feel Communism is truer than Christianity then you must take your stand with Communism, and be prepared to suffer with them . . . If Communism wins the day in Asia-as it may for a time do-it will be difficult not to do what the rulers think, anti that will be to destroy whatever resists the one plan appointed from the Ruling Power, and so sweep away real Freedom from the work. Jesus says, 'By their fruits ye shall know them '. With all our faults I think it must be admitted that Christianity has produced more good in the world than any other principle has."

To Rev. P. T. Cash he writes on Christmas Eve 1951

Your welcome letter of the 15th should have had return from me before this. But I have failed to keep up with the flying days, and have to own defeat in my attempt to finish my progress before Christmas is on me.

My general health is good but my sight is poor. Reading the lesson is my chief difficulty (in preaching) and I don't want another to read for me. I like to feel free to add a comment, or even give another translation when I feel that a reading is apt to be misunderstood, as I fancy many are. May 1952 bring you both blessing and peace abidingly. Ever sincerely, H.H."

Photo of Rev Henry Highfield taken by Mr KM De Lanerolle in 1952 in England

In 1952 Mr. Kenneth de Lanerolle, Vice-Principal of Wesley, was in England, and paid a visit to Pickering, during which he took the photograph reproduced here. He wrote an account of his visit which appeared in the " Times Sunday Illustrated '' on 3-8-52. From it the following extracts are taken

Crabtree' is a little bungalow which one of the Highfield brothers built for himself on retirement from the Grammar School, where he was time first head and worked for 30 years. Of this brother Highfield once wrote to me, 'though more than three years my junior he died in March 1947. I miss him greatly '.

There is yet another brother, himself an old man, with many years' experience in South Africa; and the two old men spend the evening of their lives quietly and simply, with a wealth of books around them-on poetry, gardening, religion and the classics-a radio set (on which the cricket commentary on the first Test is coming through), and a maid who calls daily to cook and tidy up.

Of Ceylon, its recent changes, and the doings of his past pupils I had much to tell him ; but I found that he was in touch through the "Methodist Church Record, " the "Fortnightly Review," whose editor is an old Wesley man, and through many friends who send him newspaper cuttings, letters and gifts. 'The last named he distributes among the needy, and I thought to myself that it is not only in old Ceylon that the gift of a gift is the supreme gift.

Those who recall his indefatigable energy will not be surprised to learn that, in spite of his 86 years, he lives a very full life. He makes a daily walk to the shops. He writes a lot of letters, takes a service now and then, and keeps abreast of the thought of the day. But I think his greatest delight is found in the company of the older masters, which he on the shelves around him, proved friends which have in them no quality of the merely ephemeral, but the true marks of immortality.

Still, although his general health remains good, it is clear that time Rev. Highfield's physical powers are failing. His hearing and sight are weak, and his cycling days are now past."

Here is a short extract from a letter to Mr. de Lanerolle written in June 1952

" Many thanks for the gift of the Life of C. A. Lorenz and also for the Observer Annual. I have read with pleasure and real interest B. R. Blaze's life of C.A.L. I have been interested In what I knew of him apart from the fact that I obtained for the Methodist Mission his house, 'Karlsruhe', (which Wesley College folk will persist in spelling 'Karlsruhe' I --Can you get them out of it?)"

On 7-12-52 he writes for Christmas to Mr. C. J. Oorloff "I am writing just a short letter to prove you are not out of my thoughts and prayers . . . I have had gifts from the OB.U. which I could have well done without, and I have urged them to put all their gratitude for the past into helping you in your efforts for to-day.

"Overleaf I am sending you the two great Words which have been my stay and rejoicing for more than 50 years.

(a) Luke II. 14 (in Hort's arrangement). 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth,Peace among men of goodwill'.

Whereas the older version limited the glory to Heaven the greatness of Christmas is the extension of the glory to Earth.

(b) John I. 9. 'There coming into the world was the true light that lighteth every man.'

"No alteration of the Greek is needed; only a more sensible construing. A man is not a man till he is born into the world. Therefore it is not necessary to attach the words (coming into the world) to a man."

A letter written to the compiler of this memoir on 28-12-52 contains the following:

"Thanks for your letter of the 22nd (my birthday) only opened just now. It is packed full of news . . . . Please give my kind regards to your big Ceylon group (at Methodist International House, London) even if they do not know me.

"I got out to our morning service last Sunday and again on Christmas morning. Snow fell last night and the roads are too dangerous. Also I have been toiling to deal with a very large mail and am barely half way through. My brother and I had two Methodist ladies to dinner on Christmas day, but they cooked and served the duck was a gift and so too the pudding."

Two letters written to Mr. Somanader in 1953 give some idea of his life during that year:

I am writing this letter (26-2-53) on my knee but Sitting in front of a good electric heater before retiring to bed. I have Spent most of three weeks in this room, for on 3/2 I had a nasty backward fall and severely strained the muscles of my left hip, and had to spend more than a fortnight in bed. Fortunately no bone was broken and now the muscles are much better, so much so that the doctor is allowing me to go on Sunday and take both services at a place about 10 miles away. They will send a car at 10 a.m. to take me there, and a good friend that lives 4 miles away in the same direction will bring me back after the evening service. I have not been planned for three months December, January, February) so I shall be glad to be doing the work again.

"Our spring flowers are coming out-aconites, which one paper calls 'February buttercups', and which unopened look like balls of butter resting upon crimped green plates of leaves also crocuses purple and gold, and snowdrops. So spring is beginning.''

Again on 26-6-53 he writes:

"I have not been away from Pickering since June, 1948, when I went to Bath to attend the Bi-centenary of my old School, Kingswood . . . . I am feeling that my time here is running out and I in no way desire to stay as long as Dr. Scott Lidgett (98). I have reluctantly given up preaching.

"Our very hot weather has broken with a cloud burst in the Lake District, but apparently it remains hot in London, and the 2nd Test Match went greatly in England's favour yesterday. I hope today's weather may enable England to have a good lead."

On his birthday (22-12-53) he writes to Mr. Sandaratne

Today my table is strewn with letters because it happens to be my birthday as well as near Christmas. I have now closed my 88th year and entered on year 89.

I was very pleased to see Mr. Lionel Fonseka who with a young companion came over from Harrogate one day in May.

Apropos of Highfield's reference to his visit to the Bicentenary of his old school in England Mr. P.H. Nonis writes as follows

I attended the Speech day held in connection with the Bi-centenary Celebrations of Kingwood, while Mr. Highfield was himself present a few days earlier at the Thanksgiving Service. Kingswood School, Bath, is situated on a steep hill just outside the city. I spent a week there as the guest of the Headmaster, and in the course of conversation he told me that one of the best Stories of the Bi-centenary was that of an Old Boy aged 83 who insisted on walking up Lansdown Hill although all the other guests travelled by the special buses provided. My host was interested to learn that this Old Boy was none other than my former Principal."

The account of the Bi-centenary in the school magazine contains the following reference

'The Senior Old Boy at the Bi-centenary was the Rev. H. Highfield (1878-83) of Pickering. he marked the occasion by walking up Lansdown Hill to the School, an athletic feat which certain members of time School might be encouraged to perform at least once during their careers

On 11-12-53 Highfield wrote to Rev. P. T. Cash:

I am going to try and send a return letter to you of the 9th by tomorrow's post. I shall not be able to get many letters off this year for things are more difficult with me now.

"I found it wisest to give up taking services on the plan early in May. However I have asked to be allowed to give the Christmas morning address which I have not done once in the 17 years I have been here since I retired in 1936. I want at least once to show why I take Luke II. 14 as being:

Glory to God in highest heaven and on Earth; Peace among men of (God's) goodwill ".

" If I live the few days longer, and take the address, as I much desire to do, I shall have entered upon my 89th year.

"Wesley College O.B.A. still remembers me. I must have had six presents of eatables and tea this year despite my letters back saying they should put it into the efforts going on for more buildings.

"May Christmas and 1954 be full of blessing to you both. I have much to be grateful for in your colleagueship of those years. Ever sincerely, HH

Highfield's eyesight was failing seriously now, and there are only two legible communications from him available in 1954. The first is to Mr. Sandaratne dated 5-1-54:

"I am using post-cards to compel brevity. I am now in my 89 year, and the brother and sister who live with me are both over 80; so life on earth is not likely to give us many more opportunities of service. I look forward however to the Ceylon FortNightly Review, and take an interest in what is going on in the dear Island, and thank God that my lot was cast among you for nearly 30 years. With all good wishes. Henry Highfield."

The other is written to Mr. P. H. Nonis on 5-8-54:

5th August.

Dear Nonis,

Thank you for your letter . . . (illegible) . . . I must start again and use a pencil. You will see that my sight is failing badly. I am in good spirit. Two doctors say it is due to old age and that is easy for I am 88 and in the 8th month of 89. Let my friends write to me and I will have theirs read to me and will answer if I can like this.

Ever sincerely,


About six months before his death High field's sight failed almost completely. Even after this he wrote several letters to friends in Ceylon with his own hand, though they were almost impossible to read. Yet how characteristic, this was of his independent spirit!

Miss E. M. Jostick of Pickering gives the following account of his last weeks on earth in a letter to Mr. Oorloff dated 4-4-55

"I write on behalf of Mr. H. Highfield to thank you for your letter and sympathy on the death of his brother. I live just across the road from their home and for the last six years have been in to see them every day. Mr. Highfield's heart was always to the end in Ceylon. Last year it was the 50th year since he did what he always called his " big beg ", when he toured the Island collecting money for the College, and he very much wanted to take the service at our town chapel and tell the people about it. He was so weak we felt we couldn't let him go, though up to the middle of the week he wouldn't give in ; but by Friday he decided to tell our minister the story, and ask him to give it for him- which he did-and when after the service I repeated it all to Mr. Highfield, the tears rolled down his face and he said, it all comes back to me SO clearly after 50 years.

"He got weaker, though on Christmas day he was able to get up and have his Christmas dinner with his brother, but after Christmas he got so helpless, and l had such bad nights, that the doctor thought he had better be removed into a Nursing Home where he would have trained attention. So, on a bitter January afternoon, I took him by Ambulance to Scarborough. I shall never forget my last ride out with him; he took it all so quietly And made no fuss, though he did not want to go. All the way from Pickering through the different little villages he kept asking where we were, and told stories of the missionary meetings he had taken in each place. He was very exhausted by the time we reached the Nursing Home, but he thanked the ambulance men for bringing him so smoothly, and then told the Sister at the Home that he had just come in for a ' Short rest'.

"He lived three weeks all but a day; he was quite conscious all the time. I saw him last on the Sunday; he very much wanted to come home. I asked him why, and he said 'Home is best'.

"On the Monday night he became unconscious and slipped quietly away about 7 o'clock on Tuesday morning, February 1st.

"A great man to the end, one who never asked for anything for himself. All for others, and for the work of the Church overseas and at home ".

The notice of his death in the "Methodist Recorder" ends with this tribute:

"He exercised a wonderfully helpful ministry in the homes of his people where he was ever a welcome visitor. He was utterly consecrated to the service of his Lord and counted no sacrifice too great for the extension of the Kingdom. He was most generous in his financial support of the work of God at home and overseas, and never refused a duty he was able to fulfill ".

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."




I feel honoured that, as an old boy of Wesley College, I am requested to write a few words on Rev.Highfield whom we all respected and dearly loved and I thank the Principal for making this request.

As I sit down to pen these few lines, many memories rush in to my mind and I am almost at a loss as to which I am to record. Some of the memories are personal and extremely dear, and I wish I had the opportunity of recounting them in the presence of Rev. Highfield himself.

Rev. Highfield was a firm disciplinarian and could even be harsh when necessary. He was also irritable at times. Perhaps many have seen only this aspect of him. Beneath this firmness, there was a generosity and gentleness, possessed by very few people of his position. He had also the rare ability of sensing who were in need of help and then extending his help in such an unostentatious and gracious manner that those who received his help were made to feel that it was Mr. Highfield who was under obligation for their accepting the help.

Rev.Highfield was a deeply religious man and he made no secret of his convictions, but he never tried to convert pupils of other faiths to his convictions I was a pupil at Wesley College from the third standard up to time Matriculation Form and during that long period I do not remember even one instance when Rev. Highfield interfered, directly or indirectly, with the religious beliefs and convictions of his non-Christian pupils.

A man of the type of Rev. Highfield is indeed rare in this world.



By A. H. M. ISMAIL, ESQ., J.P.U.M.(at school 1909-1922)

I was admitted to the Lower 1st Class in the Pettah Branch of Wesley College in July 1909, when I was about six and a half years old. My earliest recollection of our Principal, Rev. Henry Highfield, was when he came down from Karlsruhe at the end of the term to close school for the terminal vacation. At the school assembly the Principal read out the position of every pupil in each form commenting favourably on the achievements of exceptionally diligent students. The proceedings were wound up with the singing of a hymn, reading a portion of the Bible and a prayer. During my career in the Pettah Branch I used to see the Principal once every month when he paid a visit to the school to pay the salaries of the teachers and on three other occasions every year when the school had assemblies before closing for the terminal holidays.

When I entered the Karlsruhe Branch of Wesley College in January 1914, I had ample opportunity to know the Principal more intimately. Every day I saw him at the morning and afternoon assemblies and regularly listened to his singing the hymns, reaching the Bible, his prayers uttered in sweet and melodious tones and his general talks to the students. Rev. Highfield paid great respect to the beliefs and practices of religions other than Christianity. Whenever any non-Christian student requested leave to attend to Ins religious duties lie was readily granted leave. Not only did the Principal himself grant such requests hut lie encouraged time other teachers of the College to do likewise.

I remember particularly an incident sometime in 1917. The Muslim students of the College had enjoyed the privilege of taking leave for two periods from 12 noons on Fridays in order to attend Jumma Prayers at the Mosques. On a certain Friday a new teacher refused the leave to Muslim students of our class. I was called upon by the Muslim students to see the Principal and get the leave. With great trepidation I went to the Principal's bungalow. As the Principal saw me he guessed my mission and readily granted the leave before I could open my mouth. He evidently knew that that day was a Friday, the hour was noontide and our class had a new teacher. This gesture made a very deep impression upon me and I can never forget the incident. I may say with a deep sense of appreciation that Wesley College was the only College which granted privileges to students of other denominations to attend to their obligatory religious duties during school hours. Rev. Highfield had a great sense of religious

Tolerance and practiced it. It is this tolerance which attracted Muslims all over the Island to Wesley College.

It is a noteworthy fact that apart from the Muslim Educational Institutions of recent origin, the largest number of Muslim students is always in Wesley College and nowhere else. I attribute this to the sound and tolerant tradition set up by Rev. Highfield and I am glad to say that this tradition still prevails in our College.

Rev. Highfield led an exemplary life and whenever we students had occasion to come into contact with him or view his conduct at a distance we saw human behaviour at its best. Never once could we bring ourselves to think or feel that a person of the calibre of Rev. Highfield could act -wrongly or unjustly. In our youthful eyes he was the embodiment of all human virtues and noble conduct. We felt that he was truly a saintly character. Everything he did appeared right and correct in our view and there was nothing that lie could be wrong about.

As I progressed in my studies I attended classes taught by the Principal. It was a great pleasure to listen to him. Here was a teacher who really taught. We used to sit in his classes enthralled by his lectures and time literally flew. During the last phase of the First Great War (1914-1918) the Principal used to devote one hour a week to war news. How fairly and accurately would he comment on the achievements of the combatants, and anticipate the course of future events!

Rev. Highfield commanded the greatest respect from all the students of time College both present arid past. I never heard during my collegiate days of any student saying anything derogatory of the Principal. The Principal's word was the truth, the law and time criterion. No wonder students of Wesley during the Highfield regime imbibed good traditions, built up good character and l launched out into the world under the finest auspices-all due to time inspiring guidance of our great and venerable Principal.

Before I close, I would like to narrate one little incident to show a notable trait in his lovable character. I was the Captain of the Wesley Cricket 1st XI in 1922 and our team had won our first Inter-Collegiate Cricket match after the lapse of about five years. We were so elated with our victory that the whole team proceeded to the Principal's bungalow to give the Principal a cheer. 'The Principal received our cheers in such a gladsome spirit that he dipped his hands into his pockets and giving me all the cash he had in them, bade us enjoy ourselves thoroughly and celebrate the hard fought victory. HIGHFIELD OF WESLEY



It is the year of Grace 1919. The Principal, the members of the Staff and the Old Boys of Wesley College are planning to publish the Diamond Jubilee Number of the Double Blue. Wesley College enters its seventy-fifth year, having opened its classrooms to the youth of Ceylon in March 1874. Who should be asked for the Chief Message? An Old Boy, a distinguished Citizen or an old member of the Staff? Every one agreed that it should be the Rev. Henry Highfield, the Architect Principal of Wesley College, the one man who was more than any other responsible for building the new Wesley College on the present site, setting Wesley College on a new era of progress. Today Wesley College dominates the entire landscape, a towering monument to the genius, industry and foresight of Rev. Henry Highfield.

Rev. Henry Highfield was quick to respond to the request for a message. From his retirement at his home at Crabtree, Pickering, Yorkshire, he sent his message which, now that he is dead, is his last message to Wesleyites living and unborn. That Message adorns the Diamond Jubilee Number of the Double Blue published in 1949. That message is the best portrayal of the spirit and idealism that illumined the life and work of this great servant of God.

In his inspiring message with which time Diamond Jubilee Number of the Double Blue opens Rev. Highfield refers to an ancient word: -"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from It ". This was the philosophy of life that disciplined Rev. Highfleld's ministry in the vineyard of his Master. And he continues his message thus "As a Christian I am convinced that the fullest conception of God is given in Jesus of Nazareth. But I also am Sure that to every one is given even though he does not know it and acknowledge it, light through that True Light, for the same wondrous volume says 'There coming into the world is the true light even the light that lighteth every man

And he adds that " Wesley College from Its opening in March, 1874 to the present day (1949) has striven to impart this knowledge. It has welcomed all and treated all alike, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Parsee and I believe it will go on doing so

And so it has been. This Wesley tradition inspired by the nobility and wisdom of Rev. Highfield still goes on and shall go on unto the ends of time. And now we are in the year of Grace 1956. Wesley College still holds aloft its own lamp of learning, it still pursues with renewed zeal and fidelity the same Wesley tradition. Rev. Highfield is alas now dead. He is no more with us. But his name and memory will ever remain in time new Lanka of our time and will continue to inspire and uphold future generations of Wesleyites.

The most outstanding characteristic of Rev. Highfield is his wide outlook, his catholicity of influence, his embrace, as his flock, of the entire human race irrespective of class, creed, border~ or terrain. He took every one under his fold, each according to his light, but all drew from him in abundance the glow and the fragrance of a devoted friend, philosopher and guide.

There was nothing little in the life and ministry of Rev. Highfield, there was nothing narrow, sectarian or circumscribed. He gave of his best without counting the cost.

I was his pupil for many years. His talks and conversations made me a better Hindu, made me understand Hinduism better and made me appreciate the Hindu way of life, as I never did before. His personality uplifted us, for whenever he spoke to us he entered into our plane of thought so that we could understand him, and in that plane he conferred amid succeeded in uplifting us, in ennobling us, in holding up for our veneration and regard the highest ideals and ideologies, in such a way that we yearned to weave them into the texture of our own thoughts and aspirations. Thus Rev. High field's ministry has been woven into the Wesley tradition and in that tradition his spirit will continue to guide the boys of Wesley for all time.

A great man can achieve many things; great ideals need the ministry of great minds; great achievements are the work of great minds. Rev. High field's greatest achievement is the new Wesley College, as we know it. It was his foresight, his industry and his labours that made the realisation of a Wesley College at Karlsruhe Gardens a possibility. In those memorable days Rev. Highfield toured the whole Island on a bicycle in a mammoth collection tour. It is known that he rode night and day and on occasions slept on time road. Ills sincerity and his integrity were so evident that he received donations and hospitality from all classes of people from all walks of life, from Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It was Rev. High field's proud boast at the time that no one lie appealed to refused him, and that lie received the largest dominations and the warmest hospitality from those he knew not and those who had no interest in Wesley College. It is only men of the type of Rev. Highfield who can evoke such feelings and such warm hearted, response.

There are many other facets in the life and personality of Rev. Highfield. He is above all a gentleman and a man of God. His sincerity and sympathy was spontaneous. His friendship was generous and unstinted. His loyalty was touching and his affection particularly towards children and his own pupils was very warm and genuine.

To know Rev. Highfield is to know the personality of greatness, to converse with him is to appreciate time value of human friendship, to be taught by him is to imbibe without effort the joys of learning.

Rev. Highfield had always a serious mien. He looked grave, and sometimes melancholy. But in reality he was full of the joys of life, he enjoyed friendship and he delighted in the company of the young. Above all he was a real "guru " of the Eastern pattern. He took a keen interest in his pupils. He watched their progress with a connoisseur's interest. He studied their temperament. He sensed their abilities and he discovered their talents. Nevertheless his pupils were to him his own brothers. He shared their troubles with them, he solved their problems for them and he planned their future. Of Rev. Highfield it can thus be said verily and truly, that he inspired his companions, that he impressed the youth of Wesley that he has left behind for generations to behold a life lived for the benefit of his fellowmen and for the glory of God.


By a former pupil and master of Wesley who wishes to remain


My earliest recollection is of a day in late November, 1913, when my father took me to Mr. Highfield for admission to the College in the following January. He and Mrs. Highfield were occupying the quarters in the Boarding house during the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Cash on furlough. Mr. Highfield received my father and me in his study. I can never forget the kindly benign face of this saint of God as I saw him for the first time. He put a few questions to me and looked through my certificates. He made us both feel quite at home with him, and was in no hurry to send us away, and, after asking me to come on the first day of School in January (1914), he literally took our breath away by inviting us to go along with him and have a look at the buildings, now seven years old. He took us right round the premises showing me where I should be on the day I came to the College. On the first day of school I was standing by a door close to the platform during assembly. As soon as assembly was over he came down, recognized me, and himself took me to the class to which I was to be admitted. What a memory and what kindness!

I was only two years at Wesley as a pupil but the following points struck me

(a) Mr. Highfield was always in spotless white with clerical collar.

(b) It was a fine sight to see him walk along the corridors with sprightly steps and the scholar's stoop.

(c) He always began the scripture lessons with a prayer.

(d) He himself brought the salaries of teachers in packets on the first day of the month and handed them to each teacher in his class.

(e) He amazed us, when I was in the Senior Form, by getting us into the Hall one day and going through the maths paper, which we had done badly. We had thought of him only as a classical scholar!

Mr. Highfield made it a point to get to know personally the parents of his pupils and their homes as far as possible. And when there was any occasion he would call at the house. I remember there was something wrong with my birth certificate, and some alteration had to he made by the Director of Education. He himself came to my house with the letter, and explained to me how I should go and see the Director. His visit on such an occasion made a profound impression on our minds.

I left school in December, 1915, having sat for the Senior Cambridge. During the holidays I applied for a vacancy on the Staff of the Pettah Branch. Imagine my surprise when the day before school reopened Mr. Highfield was seen coming to my house on his bicycle, He came to tell me that he had appointed me to the Staff, and that I should go on the next day to report to the Headmaster. he gave me a number of hints as to how to set about my work. One stands out clearly in my mind, and that was regarding corporal punishment. "Do not punish, but if you have threatened to do so carry it out ".

Mr. Highfield visited the Pettah Branch once a week, he paid salaries here also in the same way. I never had to ask him for an increment of salary, though teachers had no scales of salary in those days. After the teacher who played the organ at morning Assembly had left, I was asked to do this. Next month I found my salary increased, and a letter of appreciation for my additional services. Once during a holiday in India I met with an injury to my foot and had to be in hospital for two months. Mr. Highfield wrote very sympathetic letters to me advising me not to return before I was completely cured, and kept sending my salary regularly.

He was very far seeing, and looked forward to the day when we Ceylonese would manage our own affairs. Once the Staff at the Pettah Branch were divided and quarrelling among themselves. The headmaster reported the matter to Mr. Highfield. He summoned a Staff meeting, and his opening words were, 'Gentlemen, if you cannot manage the affairs of a small school harmoniously, how can you manage your country when you become independent? ' We were so ashamed that we immediately patched up our differences.

Just before he retired-January 1925-he transferred me from the Pettah Branch to the College. I thus had the privilege of being associated with him in his last term at Wesley (January April, 1925).

I well remember the unveiling of the portrait, which adorns the centre of the platform, by Mr. W. E. Mack, the Senior Assistant of the College. Mr. Mack's speech reached its climax when he pulled the string to unveil the well-known face with the words, ' Behold God's Good man! ' The atmosphere was hushed and there was not one present whose eyes were dry. He never failed to send me his Christmas greeting card every year, and to write to me whenever he had news of me from others. Truly his epitaph might be, ' He never forgot '. His memory is the inspiration of my life.

Rev.Highfield at Marazion in Cornwall by Dr.N.D.Amerasekera

View of St.Michael's Mount with Marazion on the right


After leaving Wesley Rev.Henry Highfield worked as a vicar in several Parishes in England. From 1929-34 he was in Marazion in the southern tip of England (Cornwall - in the south west). I went to Cornwall and stayed in a Timeshare Resort in Camborne. Marazion was only about 30 minutes away and visited the Church on a Sunday hoping I will be able to speak to the Rev. and take some pictures of the inside of the Church. Unfortunately now it is a circuit Church and the Priest from Penzance serves the area. The flock appears to be leaderless the rest of the time!! I had a walk around the church on a bleak wet day and got soaked to my bones. It is a beautiful church made of stone with stained glass windows. I spent a good 2 hours leaning against the large wooden doors watching the slow trickle of visitors passing the main street and absorbing the atmosphere. The great man must have stood there watching the Atlantic storms from those very steps. Opposite the Church was a small terraced house which may have been where Rev. Highfield stayed during those 5 years. He would never have thought a student from his school 6000 miles away will visit that Church. In some strange way I felt sad to leave the place. I went there again the day before I left Cornwall. St Michaels Mount with its ancient castle is in Marazion too. I spent several hours on the beach on a warm sunny spring day overlooking the Castle and the Wesleyan Church which is one of the tallest buildings in Marazion. Time has changed little in that remote corner of the island since Rev Highfield.

Photo: The Wesleyan Church which is one of the tallest buildings in Marazion

St Michael's Mount is located some 3 miles east of Penzance and is one of the treasures of Cornwall. Set on an island a few hundred yards off-shore from the ancient town of Marazion and in the heart of Mounts Bay, the castle - now owned by the National Trust - has for centuries been the home of the St Aubyn family. Originally, the building was a Benedictine Priory which had religious links with the equally famous Mont St Michel in Normandy, France. The island served as a major port in earlier times and is thought to be the island of "Ictis" which was the centre for the export of Cornish tin and copper to the Greeks and Romans in pre-historic times. Today, the Island and Castle are open to the public every weekday and most weekends during the summer and on a limited basis during the winter. While access to the island is easy at low tide when the granite causeway is opened for pedestrian crossings, there are ferry boat services running at high tide during the summer. Marazion is the oldest chartered town in Cornwall having been granted this status by King Henry III in 1257. The town is named in the Cornish language for its historic Market (now discontinued) - "Marghas Byghan", meaning Small Market - which became corrupted in pronunciation into "Marazion" while, despite appearances in the name, there is no historic connection with Judaism. Today, it is a peaceful small town facing onto one of the most beautiful wide stretches of safe sandy beach in the West Cornwall. There are several quaint narrow streets and interesting shops in the town, but glimpses of the sea around every corner remind the visitor of the town's dramatic neighbour - the island of St Michael's Mount. For those interested in sailing, Marazion is the home of the Mounts Bay Sailing Club, whose boats add colour to the water scene every weekend during the summer. In addition, there are often major National championship races which bring many hundreds of small craft to the town beach for week-long competitions - frequently of a very high international standard. Between Penzance and Marazion lies the Marazion Marsh - an area of water and reed-beds which is a magnet for wild birds, particularly during the Autumn (Fall) migratory period. It is a very popular location with the many BirdWatchers who visit West Cornwall at these times of the year.

I enclose a letter which I received from Marazion April 2002:

Dear Dr Amerasekara,

I am writing on behalf of the Reverend Stephen Bales in answer to your letter of 3 April! 2002 concerning the Reverend Henry Highfield. I have pleasure in quoting from a letter sent by Mrs Betty Crebo who has lived in Marazion for many years as follows:

As a child my family was involved in the Methodist Church! I remember him, grey hair, wearing glasses? always on his bicycle! He lived in the Manse, top of Shop Hill, Marazion. Sadly, I know he was attacked by 2 men, who lived in May Cottages, Higher Fore Street, Marazion. Surnames Eddy and Berriman (Effie Eddy, I'm sure). They did go to prison for two months - but the Reverend Highfield would not give evidence against them! I wish I could help more! I wish you success in your search for more information about Reverend Highfield.

Yours sincerely,

Jennifer J. Browne

Circuit Lay Administrator

The Principal's Pize Day Report - Mr.P.H.Nonis


17th October, 1958

Your Excellency and Mrs. Morley, Rev. Mr. de Silva, ladies and Gentlemen. It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you all here this afternoon at this annual gathering of the school. My first duty is to thank His Excellency and Mrs. Morley for their ready consent to be present with us today. We welcome you, Sir, as a scholar bred in the best traditions of the English Public School System, and as one who has gained high academic and intellectual distinctions during your university career at Oxford. To these distinctions you have added an equally distinguished record in administrative and parliamentary circles. Your work in various spheres has brought you into close contact with several countries in the Commonwealth. Mrs. Morley not only ably seconds you in the discharge of the social obligations connected with your office hut is also well known in the activities of the Red Cross and in various organisations of social work in Colombo. We welcome her no less cordially and thank her for gracing this Prize Giving. The interest you both have taken in the cultural life of Colombo is a source of inspiration to us all . The period covered by this report is a long one than usual. This annual event of the school should normally have taken place in June but had to be put off owing to a state of Emergency in the country and the imposition of a curfew. These were made necessary by certain sad happenings in our midst of' which we have reason to he ashamed. Undesirable things hove shown themselves in our national life: they were there before, perhaps below the surface, and came to the surface about five months ago. During the last two years or more, we have noticed in our notional life a tendency amongst certain people to divide the country by appeals to communal and religious prejudices. Such an attitude is alien to the normal friendly relationships which hove existed between the various races who inhabit this small island, with its correspondingly tiny population.

It is an attitude that is not only contrary to the tenets of all the religious professed by the people but also, politically speaking, most unwise. It should hardly he necessary to remind ourselves that if Ceylon is ever to become a nation in the best sense of the word, all religions, races and communities must stand solidly together. I do not wish to dwell at any length on this subject, which is filling our minds more than any other at the present time, because this is primarily a report on the work of the school for the past year. Communal and religious divisions should not effect our children at school at all, and our efforts must be concentrated on giving them such a type of education as will make such divisions impossible. Wesley College is one of the few schools organised as "three stream schools" which are free to admit children of all races and communities. It is the only one of its kind among the Methodist Boys' schools in the country and has, therefore, a special responsibility.

Another year has passed and again we gather here a group of different communities, different religions, widely different interests but having a common interest in the welfare of our school. Our Old Boys have as usual shown keen interest in the school. The Highfield Memorial Building, which has been completed and ready for opening, is both a monument to their revered teacher and also a gift to their school. Most of the money raised came as personal donations from Old Boys. Staff and pupils have also worked hard during the year in many ways for the Building Fund. Different classes have given gifts, the proceeds of concerts and so on. We still owe money on the building but feel sure that the Old Boys and other well-wishers of Wesley will rise to the occasion and see that the debt is paid. There can be no resting on our oars as long as we owe any money on account of a memorial to the Rev. Henry Highfield, who single-handed, raised money towards this beautiful pile of buildings of which we are justly proud. We would be very much encouraged if at the end of this Prize Giving some generous donors should come forward. to lighten our task

The gift of a building costing nearly Rs. 150,000/- is a gesture of faith on the part of Old Wesleyites, especially at the present time when the whole future of denominational schools is so uncertain, it is clear that Old Boys of Wesley have faith in an. education based on a religious foundation emphasising character as the aim of all true learning. The noble and selfless work of those great men of Wesley who laboured in the past would serve to remind critics of Denominational Schools of the part that private and missionary enterprise has played in providing education for the children of this country. It should also serve as a warning that in a well-organised community education can never be the sole concern of the state. It is, no doubt, the duty of the state to give the lead in providing a proper coordinated system of education. But there are strong arguments in favour of Assisted Schools which alone can achieve that individuality essential in a school community. Education .should not be all of one kind, nor should schools be of one pattern. The tendency of the state will always be towards regimentation in the realm of education.

Judging from the rush to schools each year, it is clear that the present provision for the education of the children of the nation is most inadequate. More schools are needed and it should be the responsibility .of the state to establish them. The better they are, the better shall we be pleased. With this vast problem facing the educational programme of the country it is surprising that certain people should want to destroy the schools that are already rendering service to the nation ! Would it not be better for the state to complete the present system, to fill up gaps, sparing the public money where it can be done without, procuring as much assistance as possible from the public and welcoming as far as possible the cooperation and aid from those who desire to assist.

Before I turn to other matters 1 wish to refer to the passing away of a former Vice-Principal of Wesley, the Rev. Percy T. Cash M.A., B.Sc. Mr. 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. I have also to refer to the death of Mr. C. M. Fonseka, an Old Boy, who served the school as a teacher for 38 years, and retired in 1953. He was a conscientious and loyal teacher.

Reminiscences of Wesley in the Pettah

By Henry Highfield from the OBUA Newsletter Dec 2003

12I was one of four young Missionaries who left London in the British India ‘Golconda” for the East in September 1895.Two went on further for India. R.C. Oliver and I were for Ceylon and so left the ship at Colombo in the early hours of a mid-October day, being met by Rev. T. Moscrop and Mr. S. Passmore.

Mr. Passmore was to initiate me into the work of Wesley College and Mr. Moscrop was Chairman of the Colombo

District and a former Principal of Wesley. I lived with him and Mrs. Moscrop until they left to return into the work at home. I was thus exceptionally fortunate in having two such fine and experienced men to guide me at the start.

Besides, this, when Mr. Passmore took me the next day to Wesley I quickly found that I had two other unusually fine and experienced men on the Staff. Charles Peter Dias joined Wesley in its second year (1876) and continued as Head Master until after my departure in

1925. So too did W.E.Mack, the first assistant; and both, but especially Mr. Dias were of the very greatest help, not at the start only but all along and the School should never forget what it owes to them. Of the premises I had a very different opinion and I think from the very first I was resolved that the School must have a better habitation. It was good for Wesley that she had in Dias a genuine Church of England Christian and in Mack a good representative of the Dutch Reformed Faith. I quickly realised that the school believed in itself and was on its toes to spring forward towards the front and in Redlich and Honter we had two who would give any other school a hard tussle for the first place in scholarship.

Before Mr. Passmore took charge, Mr. Hillard venturing boldly had built the one building that had given the School an Assembly Hall in which all could gather together twice a day and so get to feel their corporate existence. This hall too served for the teaching of four large classes – not an ideal state of things. It is true that Hillard was unable to get it paid for but he wisely pledged the future to make good. So when in 1899 Wesleyan Methodism at Home set out to raise a million guineas from a million Methodists and successfully reached the target, as we would call it, the resolve in my heart on the first day of my seeing the school was

confirmed. As however none of these guineas was to be spent in cancelling debts I had to become a beggar. It was done almost as in a dream during the last six months of 1899 and so eventually the Committee at Home gave me a promise of five times all that we could raise in Ceylon. By the end of 1904 that came to Rs.35,000 and the Committee, though much surprised by the total, stood to their promise and the building facing Base Line Road was erected and opened early in 1907 with the Director of Education, John Harward (previously Principal of Royal College) as chief


Rev. Henry Highfield in Aberystwyth 1926-29
By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

The letter I sent to Rev David Gibson in Aberystwyth 28.5.04

I am Nihal Amerasekera from Sri Lanka. I was educated at Wesley College Colombo Sri Lanka which was built by Rev Henry Highfield a Methodist Missionary from England. On his return home he worked in Aberystwyth in 1926 until 1929. I would be grateful for any information of him and his work in Wales. He is held in high regard at Wesley College and I maintain a website for the school

Thank you


Dr.Nihal D. Amerasekera

The reply

Dear Nihal

Our Circuit archivist Lionel Madden is researching your request and will contact you directly as soon as he finds anything.

Best wishes

David Gibson


Dear Amerasekera

Here is some information about Henry Highfield's time in Aberystwyth. I hope you will find it helpful. I am afraid there is not much information in our archive but I have included what I can find together with something about the church and circuit in his day.

I have a couple of photos of the church which you might like to use. I don't have a scanner but I will ask the Rev David Gibson to send them on to you in the next few days.

With best wishes

(Dr) Lionel Madden

Circuit Archivist

Henry Highfield returned to Britain from Sri Lanka at the age of 60 and shortly after the death of his second wife. He was appointed to the Aberystwyth English Methodist Circuit. He served there as Superintendent Minister from September 1926 to August 1929.

Aberystwyth Methodist Church - Now demolished

Photo: Aberystwyth Methodist Church where Rev Highfield served

1Aberystwyth was an unusual circuit in that it had only one church. Indeed, Wesley Chapel in Queen’s Road was the only English-speaking Methodist church in the whole of the county of Cardiganshire. (There were Welsh-speaking Methodist churches, but these were grouped in a separate Aberystwyth Welsh Circuit.) Although he was the Superintendent of the English Circuit he was in fact the only minister in the circuit and was responsible for only one church. This was a very uncommon situation since British circuits normally contained a group of churches with several ministers.

 The church in Aberystwyth in which he ministered had been built in 1869-70. It was an attractive building in the Gothic style which could seat 450 worshippers. It was used until 1990 when it was demolished to make way for the present building, which is called the St Paul Methodist Centre and which serves the English and Welsh speaking congregations. As minister, he lived in the manse, ‘Epworth’, in North Road. This was a substantial three-storey house which was conveniently located close to the chapel.

The surviving records do not give us much detail about Henry Highfield’s ministry in Aberystwyth. Not surprisingly, as soon as he arrived the Quarterly Meeting agreed that he should take the Foreign Missionary Services in October 1926. He obviously had a particular concern for the welfare of young men and he established a special meeting for them. He also sought to deepen the spiritual life of the church by introducing a regular prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings. These were planned to precede the weekly meetings of the Wesley Guild which were an important part of the social life of the church.

It is clear that he was an efficient minister who was well liked. When he left in 1929 on moving to a circuit in Cornwall ‘numerous expressions appreciative of his work and influence’ were given by members of the Quarterly Meeting. The minister who followed him, the Rev. Frank Edwards, paid a high tribute to the state in which he had left the affairs of the circuit.

When Henry Highfield came to Aberystwyth there were 104 members. By the time he left the number had risen to 109. In her book English Methodist in Aberystwyth Mary Brown notes that during his time the habit of the free church ministers exchanging pulpits became popular in Aberystwyth, and this was a period when the free churches came closer together.

Peter Harold Nonis - A Life of Service By Dr N.D.Amerasekera


To live for a time close to great minds is the best kind of education.--John Buchan

Peter Harold Nonis was born on the 13th of November 1901 in the Southern Town of Matara. His father Rev H.A.Nonis was then the Superintendent Minister in charge of the local Methodist Church. His mother was Emily Nonis. Harold Nonis was the fourth in a family of six. He had a brother and a sister younger to him and 3 older sisters. Harold Nonis’ first teacher was his father until he was enrolled in the fourth standard at Richmond College Galle under the Principalship of Rev W.J.T. Small. At Richmond he fell hopelessly in love with cricket and spent all his waking hours playing the game. When it came to exams he came out on top with the minimum of effort. The WJT Small era was the finest period in the history of that school and his inspired leadership had a lasting impression on the young Harold Nonis. Little else is known of his life at Richmond except he topped the merit list in the Cambridge Junior Examination.

He joined Wesley College in July 1918 and was placed in the 6th Form during the ‘reign’ of Rev. Henry Highfield. There he soon excelled as an all rounder. Harold Nonis was scholar and a fine cricketer and captained the school 1st XI team in 1921. He was a talented left hand batsman and scored an unbeaten century against St. Joseph’s College. Much has been written about his model innings of patience and concentration.

To quote his son Harilal - My father related an interesting story about the century of 103 runs which he scored against St. Joseph’s. Apparently he did not know his score and was stuck on 99 runs for half and hour!!. Several people in the Pavilion were like cats on hot bricks and one person was muttering ‘what is that chap Nonis doing instead of getting his century”. Evidently he very nearly got a heart attack!! Finally my father scored a boundary and was out soon after”. He was recognized as one of the best schoolboy cricketers in 1921 and went on to play for the Combined Colleges team against Trinity College. Rev Highfield inspired him tremendously and his association with the school was a rewarding experience which served as an anchor in his later years. Harold Nonis became one of Highfield’s best students and completed his brilliant school career winning the Hill Medal for being the outstanding scholar in 1920 and also in his final year. He was the Senior Prefect in 1921. After leaving Wesley he played cricket briefly for the SSC

Caricature of Mr PH Nonis drawn by M.B Wickramasinghe of 6th Form (Sc)

a4Harold Nonis graduated with a degree from the London University in Mathematics and Classics. For a brief spell (1921-23) he returned to his roots at Richmond College as a teacher. This was before the days of Teacher Training and in his words “threw himself at the deep end”. Kenneth De Lanerolle recalls being a Form 1 student at Richmond when Harold Nonis became his Class master and Latin teacher. KDeL : “It must have been some charisma in the man which made us take him to our hearts without question, wait on his every word and write to him in the holidays – letters which he never failed to reply”.

Harold Nonis was appointed as a teacher at Wesley in September 1924. This was Henry Highfield’s final year as Principal. Then there was neither a salary scale nor a pension scheme for teachers. Within a week of joining the Staff, Rev.John Dalby, arrived as the new Vice Principal. Harold Nonis: “It was a joy for me to work with him at Wesley during the next 15 years”. Rev Highfield was his mentor and friend and his work ethic had a lasting effect on his life. He recalls “It was an unexpected joy for my family to welcome Mr. Highfield at our flat in London in the spring of 1948. He put me at ease, making me feel that he was no longer my teacher, but a friend, while we chatted late into the night reviving old memories and exchanging stories of Wesley. Once or twice he broke down.” Harold Nonis stuck to his task and became an outstanding teacher of Mathematics, Greek and Latin. His efforts were rewarded when he was appointed Vice Principal in 1930 being the first Ceylonese to hold this post. In 1933 he married Doris Goonewardene and moved into the Vice Principal’s bungalow. There they brought up their sons, Harilal and Prasad and spent 8 happy years. Harilal: My grandfather was eager for a grandson and was hoping that Harold Nonis’ wife will fulfill his dream. My grandfather unfortunately passed away in early January 1935 and two weeks later his grandson Harilal was born on 2nd February in the early hours of the morning. Rev. John Dalby was Principal of Wesley and Harold Nonis was the Vice Principal. On the morning after Harilal was born John Dalby congratulated Harold Nonis at the School Assembly and went on to announce to the boys “early this morning the youngest Wesleyite was born.” This was greeted by loud applause but when John Dalby went onto say he hoped this Wesleyite will go on to Captain the Wesley Cricket Team, like his father, the applause was apparently deafening. This sadly did not happen as the most Harilal could do was to be the Vice Captain of the Kingswood Team

Principal's Bungalow

Living in the hallowed grounds of Wesley, Harold Nonis immersed himself fully in the life of the school, supporting and encouraging sports despite his arduous administrative and teaching duties. The school recognized his commitment and he was promoted to be the Acting Principal in 1938 which he continued for 2 years. One of his outstanding achievements during this period was the purchase of the sports pavilion at Campbell Park from the Tamil Union Cricket Club, for which he will always be remembered. On looking back this was a move of exceptional wisdom as it paved the way for an outright purchase of the grounds when the situation arose.

As a youngster Harilal remembers the Wesley Cricketers coming to the Vice Principal’s bungalow whenever they won an inter school cricket match. They used to have a sing song and his parents invariably joined in. It is a tradition which continued well into the 1960’s and hopefully has survived into the 21st century.

In 1942 he left Wesley to become the Principal of Kingswood College Kandy. Harold Nonis was the first Ceylonese to hold that position since its founder L.E.Blaze. A missionary colleague told him "If you’ve got to live it is best to live in Kandy”. Prof KM De Silva in his many writings pays Harold Nonis the ultimate tribute as being one of the finest educationists of his time. When he was appointed to lead Kingswood the school was in crisis. The Senior staff members like JCA Corea and Dudley De Silva (both became Principals of Royal College Colombo) left Kingswood having lost confidence in the leadership immediately prior to his arrival. The remaining senior teachers rallied round the new principal. Younger enthusiastic graduates were employed to improve academic standards and the school was saved from this spiral of decline.

It was also a time of tremendous upheaval in the country with Japanese bombing of Colombo and Trincomalee. Many of the school buildings in Colombo were commandeered by the British Armed Forces. Wesley was moved to Kittiyakara. Other schools were relocated to safer areas. St Thomas Mt.Lavinia moved to Kandy and it was Harold Nonis who in his generosity agreed to have the Thomians share the Kingswood buildings, despite the turmoil in his own school.

Harilal Nonis (son): Mr S.Thondaman who was at the time a prominently vocal trade union leader spoke to Mr.Nonis and said “the Ceyon Workers Congress (CWC) would be giving full scholarships to 4 of the brightest boys to enter a school like Kingswood as boarders. These scholarships would be on the basis of their performance at an examination and the boys so selected would be straight from the labour lines”. Mr Thonndaman asked if he would take them in to Kingswood. He said he would certainly do so but wanted Mr Thondaman to ensure they not only have the required books but also the school uniform etc. and not feel in any way inferior to any of the other boys. Mr Thondaman readily agreed and the boys entered Kingswood.

After the war Harold Nonis went to England to obtain the Certificate of Education from Cambridge. It was during this period he visited British Public Schools in Rugby, Shrewsbury and Cheltenham. Kingswood benefited from this rich experience. With Independence from British rule came new problems for education. The Missionary schools had to decide whether to join the new Free Education System or remain as Independent fee levying schools. The way ahead was never clear due to the fog of ultranationalism and jingoism that gripped the country. Harold Nonis had the foresight and the courage to take a pragmatic view and join the Free Education System. Prof De Silva writes “ Kingswood was fortunate that it had a man of Nonis’ vision and integrity to handle the transition from the old to the new” On looking back that was an act of genius as the school has marched forward to become a leading educational institution in the country. His reputation as a leading educationist was recognized and was appointed President of the Ceylon Headmasters Conference. He was also invited to serve on the Curriculum Committee appointed by the Minister of Education.

I remember visiting Kingswood in 1955 with a band of Wesleyites performing an operetta in Kandy. We were taken to the Ferens hostel, Randles Hill and the main school. What struck me most was the immaculately clean buildings and the fine discipline of the students. Coming from a Wesleyite of the Oorloff era when discipline was drilled into every one of us this must be taken as a gargantuan compliment. It had a British Public School feel as in Thomas Hughes “Tom Brown School days” minus the cold showers and the inherent harshness.

His Kingswood years are also remembered for his support and enthusiasm for sport in general and cricket in particular. In 1958 the Kingswood produced the schoolboy cricketer of the year – CM Fernando. Now when I read about the thriving cricket and rugby teams of the school I am reminded of Harold Nonis, the person who started this tradition. He continued to teach mathematics and the classics with much dedication. A science and cricket master at Kingswood Mr. BA Thambapillai, fondly reflects “ In academic studies the school improved considerably. As a fitting farewell gift in 1956 the school produced the best A-level results in Kandy”. A great achievement for Harold Nonis and Kingswood which was virtually on its knees in 1942. I once again refer to Prof De Silva – “ During his 15 years at Kingswood PH Nonis has guided the school through the rapids in an era of remarkable changes in education and politics. His record of dedicated service to the school, unmatched since the early years of its existence made him the obvious choice to fill the post of Principal of his old school Wesley when it became vacant in 1957”. To leave Kingswood after an enormously successful period where he was loved and respected, now at the twilight of his career, must have been an extremely difficult decision.

Nonis , our principal just had to go
Wesley demanded, Kingswood dare say no
To lead his old school – back from where he came
As schoolboy, prefect, cricket captain, fame
A name now belongs to Wesley’s fame
Let us confess t’was not hard to let you go
Mr. & Mrs. Nonis fare you well
Our gratitude is more than I can tell

(The above is from the Kingswood Archives 1957)

Harold Nonis returned as Principal of his alma mater bringing with him a wealth of experience. It was a belated home coming to complete the work he started as the Vice Principal and to uphold the rich ideals of its founders. It must have been deeply nostalgic to address the assembly at the great hall and to walk the long corridors at Wesley, once again. Every Head of school since Highfield has lived in the Principals bungalow. I reckon it was awe inspiring to live in this 100 years old building, now a part of Wesley’s rich heritage. I first met Mr.PH Nonis in 1957 as a Form IV student. He also brought with him a quiet dignity and courtesy which pervaded the entire school. It was a time of tremendous change in the country, after independence. Education in general and the Missionary schools in particular suffered immeasurably. It was during his ‘reign’ the decision was taken to run Wesley as a private non-fee levying school, with all the problems it entailed. He was able to assess the risks with great clinical accuracy and so to advise on the most sensible way forward. Drawing from his vast experience this was done with immense skill. Early on we had to sell the ‘family silver’ (the small park) to survive. But survive we did. During these turbulent times he was a rock and an anchor in the tempests and trials in the life of the school. His calm integrity in situations often dominated by powerful politicians, old boys and parents is now a part of the folklore of the school. He was cool in times of strife and remained courageous to the very end.

I remember when in the boarding, he came for dinner with his wife on Thursdays. After dinner sometimes he did a walkabout speaking to the boys, joking and reminiscing. He also improved the quality of the food served and also the quantity, to cater for our growing demands. His short stature was never a hindrance but he used it to his advantage to walk unnoticed the length and breadth of the school at all hours. On some occasions when we were in a raucous mood he dropped in on us at the Biology lab, leaving promptly with a wry knowing smile. He brought with him a culture of quiet diplomacy away from the swish of the cane. He was stern when the situation warranted and maintained a high standard of discipline at Wesley. The Nonis’ years were the most productive and best period of my school career and regret not meeting him after leaving school.

The head of a school is never short of critics. Parents, old boys and well wishers with the best of intentions, point their finger at the Principal. Often the insinuations are misguided and counter productive. Personal communication with those close to Harold Nonis lead me to believe these were handled with due care and consideration. Being a distinguished old boy and a protégé of Highfield he had the right pedigree to stand upto those against him. Then there were the dictates from government and the Methodist hierarchy. His long experience and the genuine sincerity gave him the courage to pursue the course that was right for Wesley. Harold Nonis’ with his quiet diplomacy withstood the bureaucratic and political pressures of his time. He was a firm but kind administrator and it is as a fine leader that I will long remember him.

Many of us, staff, boys, parents and others have first hand experiences to draw on and will not forget the words of reassurance that we have been given, or the time lavished. He brought to all he did a gentle but firm persuasion with a strong moral sense of right and wrong, He also had his priorities clearly defined . He cared about people. If it was within his power to do so he made sure that careers were developed to the benefit of the students and the teachers.. Well being of the students was his prime concern. If there were family problems, these took precedence and rightly so.

Harilal: My father although a strict disciplinarian, had the welfare of the boys at heart. Many were the occasions when I overheard him telling my mother that he had to remind the masters specially those in the boarding, that the boys belong firstly to the parents and then only to us. On one occasion a boarder at Kingswood had played an April fools’ prank on a boarding master and this master was very angry and reported the boy to my father and insisted that he be punished. My father stood firm and said that the master concerned must be able to take a good humoured prank especially on April 1st.

He treated the 6th formers as adults. Its wisdom was plain to see. Many of them were prefects who had been given the task of maintaining law and order. This change in culture at Wesley College was well received and equally well executed. We all felt it was our responsibility to respect and uphold the law. His abiding passion for cricket gave the sport a tremendous boost. It was during this time that LR Goonetilleke who was a 1st XI cricketer was chosen to represent All Ceylon against England. Harold Nonis worked assiduously to complete the Highfield Memorial building in memory of his “guru” whom he respected enormously..

Harold Nonis retired as Principal of Wesley on the 15th of December 1960 after 41 years of service to education. Being the son of a Methodist Manse his life was inextricably linked to Richmond, Kingswood and Wesley. He gave of his best and served them with great distinction. With his genuine enthusiasm he excited and inspired generations of classicists. He gave much to many. As a scholar, sportsman, teacher, Principal and friend he made a lasting impression on us all. He will be remembered for his formidable intellect and the gentle way he tried to convey it to his pupils. His interest in everyone as an individual whether colleague or pupil and his permanent friendliness which he sustained throughout his career was a result of a very deep and real relationship with his Lord. He was a lay preacher and had a deep and unwavering faith.

After retirement he spent a brief spell in England and returned home to live in Nugegoda. He kept in touch with many of his past pupils and took great pride in their achievements. During this time he celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary. Tribute must be paid to Mrs.Doris Nonis for her support for the school in all those years. Harold Nonis was an honoured guest at the many Wesley College Prize givings and old boys celebrations which he enjoyed immensely. Above all he was a family man. He doted on his only grandchild who brought much happiness to his life. Harilal rose to become a Director of Mackwoods Estates and Agencies Ltd and Prasad worked for the Insurance Corporation. The time passed swiftly until his health finally failed.

He retained his phenomenal memory and the pride and love for his school until the very end. Mr. Peter Harold Nonis died in April 1980 at the age of 79. His remains lay in state at the Wesley College Hall when past and present pupils and teachers, from Kingswood and Wesley, paid their respects. The funeral took place at Kanatte on the 12th of April. All who knew him mourned the loss of a dear friend, a dedicated professionaI and a remarkably versatile human being.

Credits and Acknowledgments

I am deeply indebted to Harilal and Nilanthi Nonis for providing the information hitherto unavailable in the public domain. Credits are also due to Prof. KM De Silva and Mr. BA Thambapillai from whose accounts I drew much inspiration.

12th March 2022

It is with great sadness I write this note that Harilal Nonis passed away in May 2013. After an illustrious school career at Kingswood College Kandy he entered the University at Peradeniya where he graduated with a BA degree. He rose up to become a Director of Macwoods Estates and Agencies Ltd. We saw a lot of Harilal when his father PH Nonis was the Principal 1957-60. He spent his retirement in Colombo. His wife Nilanthi Nonis passed away in March 2022. May their Souls Rest in Peace.

We remember Mr. P.H Nonis and also Harilal and Nilanthi Nonis with great affection



Mrs. Christobelle Enid Oorloff By Ajith Samaranayake

The death of Mrs. Orloff is bound to generate feelings of nostalgia among Trinitians who were young in the 1960's when her late husband Mr. C. J. Orloff presided over that institution.

Characteristic of the modesty of the family is that Mr. Orloff was merely described in the obituary notice as 'late of Wesley College and Trinity College.'

'No mention of the fact that he was Principal of these two schools and before that as a card-carrying member of that most brahminical school, the Ceylon Civil Service', where one of his postings was at Hambantota when he occupied the same residence as Leonard Woolf, the writer of the monumental novel of Ceylonese village life. 'The Village in the Jungle.' Mr. Orloff was generally considered to be aloof, even cold, in his conduct but behind that melancholic visage surely pulsed a heart which felt. As Principal of Trinity to which he came from Wesley College, Colombo he was called upon to preside over the school's affairs at a difficult time of transition.

He succeeded Mr. Norman Walters, the last Englishman to be Principal. It was a time of rising nationalism when the school had to adjust to teaching in the mother tongue while seeking to preserve the liberal classical values of education which was seen in the nationalist eye as a preserve of elitism. Being a Burgher would have further queered Mr. Orloff's pitch but his own liberal classical background ensured that he would be able to steer the school through the stormy weather of the times before handing it over to the late E. L. Fernando who was called upon to play the modernising role.

The Orloffs were very much a part of Kandy during these palmy days since Mr. Orloff's two unmarried sisters too lived in the proximity of Trinity College on the road leading to Udawattekelle. In that sense we were neighbours and I remember escorting the Orloffs home as part of a cavalcade (I was 14 years old at the time) on the Principal's retirement. Mrs. Orloff participated with relish in the school's extra-curricular activities particularly those of a musical and dramatic nature. It was only a few months ago that we bade farewell to Mrs. G. Y. Sahayam, the wife of the Vice Principal during Mr. Orloff's tenure. Most of the teachers who gave such distinction to the school during that distant time too are now gone.

Mrs. Orloff survived her husband for more than 20 years and the fact that being a Burgher she continued to live in this troubled country when she could easily have afforded to live abroad is perhaps a testimony to her affection for Sri Lanka. Her death then at a ripe old age comes as a salute to a more decent era in Sri Lanka's social history.



Appreciation - Dr. N.A.B Fernando by Dr. Tilak S.Fernando

6th April 2006

a1The e-mail I received from Mali Fernando in London, the daughter of my old friend Ben, giving the heartbreaking news, virtually benumbed my faculties for a few seconds with shock. Dr.N.A.B (Ben) Fernando had suddenly answered the inevitable call from above on 16 March 2006 while attending a Methodist Church conference in Derbyshire.

Ben Fernando (as he was well known) was a man of substance. In 1983, I met Ben for the first time inside a church hall in Kilburn, North West London, during rehearsals of Dr. Ediriweera Sarathchandra’s play ‘Elova Gihin Melowa Ava’ produced by Namel and Malini Arts. Ben acted the role of the village Headman (Ralahamy) and I happened to be the beggar of the play. The enthusiasm he showed in Sri Lankan culture, amidst his busy schedule in London, prompted me that he was not only a true patriot but also a good stage actor. During the three consecutive shows at the Tricycle Theatre in North West London Ben captured the audience exhibiting his refracted talents in acting by projecting a deep and forceful tone saying, mage nama Kalu Appui ( My name is Kalu Appu) which he adopted especially for the role, from his natural soothing and calm voice.

Ben impressed me as a man of many talents. He proved his intellectual capacity not only by obtaining a basic Sri Lankan degree in Sinhala from Peradeniya University, but by becoming a student of the world throughout his life while choosing a noble career as a teacher from Sri Lanka, which he continued with vigour in England. He expanded his intellectual base further in the UK by obtaining a Master’s Degree from the University of London.

At one point in his life, he seemed ‘marooned’ in thought, and decision-making became an important issue which was going to affect his well-settled lifestyle in the UK. The post of Principal at his alma mater, Wesley College, Colombo had fallen vacant and he was inspired to give his services, as a pay back for the education he received in Sri Lanka. With the requisite qualifications and the vast experience he had for the job, with the backing of his degree in Sinhala and command of the Sinhala language from his preaching performances for Methodist church, he felt quite comfortable at the thought. However, it was, indeed, not a simple decision to make to take lock, stock, barrel, and settle down in Sri Lanka in a completely different working environment after getting used a British model. He knew the implications that lay ahead but was determined ‘to have a go at it’, and finally he did so quite successfully.

He had many a plan in store to develop his alma mater particularly in the areas of sports and drama along with education of course, which he quite successfully achieved during his five-year tenure as Principal of Wesley College. With diverse and conflicting interests and interference from many groups ranging from students, teachers, Methodist Church and particularly the Old Boys, he soon realised he was confronted with an enormously difficult challenge from his own people as opposed to his experience in London school surroundings. At the end of five years, he decided to throw the towel in and get back to London once again to everyone’s disappointment. In a relaxed London atmosphere, he occupied himself again in social work and sharpening his career potential by successfully completing a Philosophy Degree in Education from the University of London, even during his proverbial final lounge in life, to become Dr. N.A.B.Fernando.

Dr. Ben Fernando was a pious man who seemed to have had a link with God during his lifetime. This very factor had made him a preacher for the Methodist Church while in Sri Lanka which he continued in England. One can only assume that God had recognised his services by the very fact that Ben received the final call, unexpectedly, while he was still participating in a Methodist Church conference in Derbyshire dedicating his services to his Lord. His patriotic qualities had no bounds. Having seen the vacuum created by the lack of help and assistance to his fellow Lankans in England from the so-called government institutions who were supposed to extend a helping hand, social worker, Ben Fernando initiated an association to assist his compatriots calling it the Association of Sri Lankans in the UK. As the founder of this Association, he went hammer and tongs to help thousands of Sri Lankans who particularly had problems connected with resident visas, welfare, educational and employment problems.

His resolve to propagate and maintain Sri Lankan traditions and culture made the Association of Sri Lankans in the UK celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year continuously on an annual basis where the young generation of Sri Lankans were made to understand their cultural and traditional values by making them participate, along with their parents, in a replica of activities which normally take place back at home during the festive season - a seemingly aimed operation on a long terms basis now reaping its benefits over forty long years continuously. Ben would have been the most happiest to see this year his knot, The Association of Sri Lankans in the UK, celebrating its 40th anniversary, but it was not to be. Sportsmanship was another quality which had been built into Ben’ character. He had become so used to take every challenge in life with a broad smile. Does one need any more proof then when one looks at his athletic track record where he had completed the thirty odd mile long London Marathon five times? In his last attempt he was over the age of 65 where in Sri Lanka one is written off as a sans pensioner!

Ben had a magnanimous heart. He lived a simple and uncomplicated life, believed very strongly in Sinhala cultural traditions and values with a high degree of commitment to help his fellow beings, especially those who were in a helpless situation in a foreign country when official institutions could not perform. He was not just a Christian by name or birth, but dedicated his services to God by becoming a preacher amidst his other busy schedules in life. The loss of this dear soul, social worker, intellectual, holy preacher, beloved husband, loving and caring father, good friend and most of all this jewel of a man, is only beginning to hit us while we shed a silent tear. The loneliness and vacuum he left in all our hearts will never be filled but the loving memories with one consolation that he has gone back to his creator to be in a better place, a much suitable and comfortable environment to reap all the benefits and grace out of what he had sowed in this life as a kind, compassionate and, most of all as an understanding human being.

Every time I think of Dr.Ben Fernando I cannot possibly escape from a mental frame that enters my mind where I see Ben in a Sarong, up to his knee level, wearing a black coat, a prominent moustache, a neatly fixed half moon comb on his head and emerging with a rough voice waving a black umbrella saying, Mage Name Kalu Appui, which echoes in my ears vividly from Prof. Ediriweera Sarathchandra’s play we rehearsed and acted on stage.

May you rest in peace my good friend? Dr. Tilak S. Fernando,

NAB Fernando a Tribute by Frank Samaraweera

When my old friend Mahes Wijesiri called me from Kandy to give some bad news I could barely believe my ears.. Mahes resides in England but spends a great deal of time In his newly acquired home In Hindagala. He gave me the news that our mutual friend and colleague in the Peradenlya campus.. Nabi had died suddenly of a massive heat attack in Derbyshire In the UK Nabi, better known as Ben Fernando the former principal of Wesley College, Colombo a fitness fanatic although he was 70 years old, He was also a man of sober habits, no smoking and drinking was confined to an occasional glass of wine He had twice participated in the London marathon, and completed the course, Apart from the heart attack that killed him Ben had rarely got ill. In fact his family physician had told him that since he was a marathon runner and trained regularly he was unlikely to get a heart attack.

I first befriended Ben In the Wesley College hostel where we were close friends. We had many common Interests. We were In the same class for some years. We sang In the College choir and took part in school plays. We were also keen member of the Student Christian Movement.

I entered the university in Peradeniya a year before Ben but we lived together In Marrs Hall and continued our close friendship It was on the campus that I really got to, know him. His wife Ira to whom I am distantly related helped to cement our friendship.

Ben is remarkable in many ways. Throughout his life he had clear ambitions and targets which he invariably achieved. Quite early in life he had decided to become a teacher in an era when there were plenty of opportunities for young graduates to secure lucrative appointments in both the public and private sectors, Quite early in their teaching careers Ben and Ira decided to go to UK because they realized that the opportunities for training and career advancement were greater there. Both of them did extremely well as teachers in England and Ira rose to be an inspector of schools, Ben’s crowning achievement was obtaining a doctorate in Education from the University of London at the mature age of 70! No doubt this was also an ambition he wanted to fulfil before he closed his innings.

Several years earlier Ben largely due to the persuasion of friends like me was Instigated to seriously consider returning to Sri Lanka and becoming the principal of Wesley. In those halcyon days I used to visit London often and never failed to spend the day in Ben & Ira’s spacious and sprawling house in South East London, On these visits I used to talk to him frequently about becoming Wesley's next principal. Ultimately it became one of his goals. A vacancy arose when our mutual friend Lou Adhihetty retired prematurely from the position. The post was advertised and Ben applied and was prepared to work for a much lower salary than what he earned In the UK. His only motivation was to serve his alma mater, He also faced competition from a formidable array of applicants. When he went for the Interview he was asked many probing questions, One question was about his western orientation having worked for so many years In England- He replied saying that he had offered Sinhala as a subject for his degree and also preached in Sinhala in the Methodist church in Sri Lanka when he visited Sri Lanka.

And he did a wonderful Job. During his tenure Wesley flourished

In both studies and sports. If he had a problem it was trying to satisfy diverse and conflicting interests of stake holder groups such as students, teachers, old boys, and the Methodist church until he explained it to me I never realized what a difficult challenge this was. Ultimately Nabi was compelled like his predecessor to retire prematurely. We his close friends were very disappointed to see him return to England but he did what was in his best interests as well as that of his family,

Ben Fernando was a wonderful person, a loving husband and father and a loyal and sincere friend - I extend my sincerest sympathy to Ira and her daughters and to Ben I would say well done thou good and faithful servant..

Links to further reading



NAB Fernando, A tribute by Roshi Fernando Saul and Tom Saul

Monday May 22, 2006

The Guardian Newspaper (UK)

Ben Fernando, who has died of a heart attack aged 70, was a Sri Lankan-born teacher and Methodist who spent 30 years working in London. Educated at Wesley College, Colombo, he started his career at his alma mater. In 1965, he and his wife Ira answered the call for teachers to come to Britain; Ben taught geography in inner-city state schools and continued his studies to MA level.

In 1966 he was a founder member of the Association of Sri Lankans in the UK, and he was the Sri Lankan representative to the Immigrants Advisory Service. Often Ben and Ira would invite people into their home for a meal and a counselling chat. They were also widely known for their large Christmas parties.

Ben became a Methodist lay preacher in 1976, and served on numerous church committees. A loving father, he brought up his daughters with a strong social conscience, taking them on marches and demonstrations, and fundraising for charities. One of his personal achievements was completing the London Marathon five times, collecting funds for the British Heart Foundation and a small Methodist church in his father's hometown of Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka.

In 1995, Ben returned to Sri Lanka as principal of Wesley College. Over five years, he transformed the school, elevating standards, raising funds to update the fabric of the buildings and enhancing the qualifications of the staff. He greatly improved the welfare of the pupils, controversially abolishing corporal punishment. Morale rose markedly under his humane guidance.

Returning to the UK in 2000, he wrote his PhD thesis on leadership and continuing professional development of teachers; accepting this final degree in March at London University was the culmination of his own belief in lifelong learning. He died a week later, at a Methodist conference, surrounded by friends.

His love of the old and the young, his sense of humour, his gifts of communication, quiet leadership and unfailing kindness will always be remembered. He is survived by Ira, his daughters Mali, Roshi and Ishani and six grandchildren.

Links to further reading



Rev James Horne Darrell (1896-1906) By Rev Henry Highfield


Transcribed from the Richmond College Magazine

"He lived on the heights and breathed the atmosphere of noble and lofty thoughts. His was a strong faith too: simple, direct and, withal, strongly reasoned. His will power was great. The faculty of rule and mastery was strong in him. But he was not overbearing. He knew the charm of gentleness, and was a man of feeling. "

The above words eloquently sum up the life and character of Rev. J.H. Darrell. They were written by Rev. H. Highfield, a close friend and contemporary of Rev. Darrell, soon after the latter's death.

Rev. James Horne Darrell was born on the 9th of June, 1872, in the West Indies. From earliest years, he displayed brilliance as a student. Receiving his primary education in Barbados, he won a scholarship and left for England, his father's native land. There he entered Cambridge University where he excelled in Mathematics, but eventually became a missionary. Rev Darrell arrived in Sri Lanka in the year 1891 as a young Methodist missionary. He assumed duties as Principal of Richmond College, Galle, on 11th September, 1896, serving until his tragic and untimely death on 12th July, 1906. The services which he rendered to the school and to the development of education in Sri Lanka during these ten years were monumental.

Apart from being an individual of great talent, Rev Darrell also possessed many qualities which made him the ideal principal. He was equally adept at academic work, school administration and control of staff. He was a tireless worker with unbounded energy. The staff readily cooperated with him when they saw his own dedication to duty. He was also a man of great personal charm who won the affection of all with whom he came into contact.

He was instrumental in bringing about many progressive reforms. Responsibility was delegated to the staff and senior students. The Prefect system was introduced where students with qualities of leadership were given a hand in maintaining discipline. The School Cadet Corps was established. New teaching techniques were adopted. Child centred education and regular teacher training were features of his administration. Teachers were coached to sit for the Teachers' Certificate Examination.

In the Cambridge Examination results of 1905, Richmond earned the top position among all assisted schools in the island. Some of the oldest buildings still in existence at Richmond were constructed during Darrell's period. The assembly hall building which came up during that time is still being used as the main hall. This beautiful building and many others built duringthat period were designed by Rev Darrell who also personally directed the construction operations. In the 10 years under Rev Darrell's leadership, Richmond blossomed to be unquestionably one of the best schools in the island in education, sports and discipline. During the 2nd term in 1906, an epidemic of typhoid broke out in the country, and many boys in the hostel contacted the disease. Day and night Darrell nursed and comforted the Children. He knew well the risk he was taking. But being a true man of God he did not care for his own life but thought only of saving the children. He fell victim to the disease and died on Richmond Hill on 12th July, 1906, Darrell's demise at the relatively young age of 34 years was an irreparable loss to the school and to education in Sri Lanka. But in a sense it was a fitting end to a life devoted entirely to the service of others.

Darrell headed Richmond at a crucial period in the history of education in Ceylon. The public school system was in its formative years. Men like Darrell laid the foundations of a secondary school system which even today ranks among the best in the world. Richmond honoured Darrell by naming the College hostel "The Darrell Memorial Boarding House" and the College Library "The Darrell Memorial Library". But such acts can serve no more than as a token of gratitude, considering the magnitude of the services rendered by this great educationist.

A Tribute to Rev Thomas Moscrop


This Tribute is an excerpt from the Wesley College Magazine February 1919 (From the archives collected and once held by Edmund Dissanayake)

We have been asked to contribute an appreciation of the late Rev Thomas Moscrop to this Magazine, and most willingly set about it though doubtful of being able to produce anything satisfactory. One thing we trust to bring out whatever else may escape us that he loved the Ceylon Mission and continued to be interested in it to the very end of his life. This is what he wrote to a friend January 31st, 1900. We are leaving with much regret and with very kindly thoughts of Ceylon.' In another letter, fourteen years later, written from Woodfield, Clive Road, Kenarth. July 14th, 19l4, he concludes: • We read everything that comes to hand about Ceylon with great interest, and have kindly memories of her and her people. There can be no doubt that the Missionary Society in sending him out to Ceylon conferred upon us a great blessing, and we cannot wish for anything better than that men of his stamp may continue to be sent to us.

Whilst performing his duties as a Ceylon Missionary, he threw himself into the work heartily whatever it was. He also viewed Missionary work as a concrete whole throughout the world, and this he was permitted to bring out in his important volume: • A Kingdom without Frontiers.' Enthusiasm is necessary for success in any calling, and in none is it so essential as in that of a Missionary. Robert Spence Hardy in some burning words said this in 1864. He. Said’ Alas what a dead lifeless, dull thing is a Missionary who is not every moment conscious of the burden of souls laid upon him, and does not feel the stupendous importance of the Message entrusted to him to deliver to the unsaved multitudes surrounding him.' This enthusiasm was in Mr. Moscrop, and explains his success in the Mission Field.

Other pens, we trust, will speak at length of his career as the Principal of Wesley College. All that we need say is that the College was vigorously maintained by him when the Principal ship fell on him owing to the sudden and lamented death of the Rev. Samuel Hill. There are many in Colombo and elsewhere who look with gratitude to him as their teacher, and we may be allowed to mention the name of Mr.D. B. Jayatileke as one of his distinguished pupils and pass on.

As a Preacher he was known and appreciated. Here again there was unction, enthusiasm a belief in his message. His preaching shewed careful preparation, and he made very apt and felicitous quotations from the poets and from the books he had read. We particularly recall a sermon on the" Love of God to man,' which he was kind enough to preach again in our hearing at our special request. He said that the beloved disciple found himself unable to define the love of God and so conflated himself by saying that God is love and love is of God.' The theme was a lofty one, and the treatment of it was both reverential and lofty, and the effect on the hearer was deep and abiding. Then just as he had optimistic views as to the Mission of Christianity in the future he bad a tender regard for the history of the Church in the Past. It was with interest for example that he shewed us in the Mission House at Kandy an old account book of Mr. Hardy's going back to the 40's, and so in England when preaching in a circuit where one of the Pioneers-the Rev. William Ault had ministered before entering upon the Ceylon Mission he looked up the old sermon entry book and verified the entries of the. Ceylon Missionary. We instance these as characteristic of the man.

Winifred Bertha Cartman - by Christine Weaver

In Memoriam

Winifred Bertha Cartman - wife of Rev James Cartman passed away on the 10th of January 2009

Photo: Mrs Winfred and Rev James Cartman

Winifred Bertha Cartman was born Winifred Bolland, the 4th of 5 children, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, UK, on 13th March 1912. She had a very happy and comfortable childhood, especially her years at Hyde Grammar School, Burnley, where she excelled at hockey. She was still living at home when her mother died in 1934. Winifred stayed on to look after her father, but she had already met James through both her place of employment and the local Methodist church. Winifred and James were married on 18th August 1937 at the Methodist Church, Stalybridge in Lancashire and almost immediately set off on the start of the great adventure which was to be their life together.

The Old Stalybridge Methodist Church in Lancashire

They sailed for Ceylon where James was to become both a Methodist missionary and Principal of Batticaloa Central College, a Methodist boys’ school in the East of the island. In 1940, Christine was born. In 1942 Winifred and Christine were evacuated back to England following the Japanese invasion of Burma. James stayed on until 1944, and in early 1945, after a short break back in the UK, James and his family returned to Ceylon, when James took up the post of Principal of Wesley College, Colombo. Five very happy years followed, Winifred becoming involved in many aspects of life, particularly with her work with Wesley and with The Red Cross.

After finally leaving Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Winifred and James settled in Kent, with James working at the Ceylon High Commission with responsibility for Sri Lankan students studying in the UK. Winifred particularly enjoyed the many splendid social events connected with this work – a good number being held at Buckingham Palace. In 1958 they moved to Oporto in Portugal for a three year spell, then back to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, then onto Cheltenham and then Herefordshire.

When James retired in 1978 he and Winifred decided to move nearer to their daughter Christine and family, and settled in Crondall, a small village near Farnham in Surrey. Here they both played a very active part in village life, Winifred being President of the Mothers Union for a while, and were happy to be able to see their three Grandchildren: David, Andrew and Kate.

Sadly, James spent the last five years of his life in a nursing home, but Winifred continued living in Crondall and was a wonderful support to him on her frequent visits. James died in January 1998, and almost at once, following a severe fall, Winifred moved into Beacon House Residential home in Fleet where she spent the rest of her life, living comfortably and being very well cared for. During this time she was able to welcome six Great-grandchildren into her life: Matthew, Emma, Elizabeth, Sam, Beatrice and Max.

Although the last few years were not the best ones for her, she was proud to be the longest lived of her family and loved to talk of the old days – especially those in Ceylon. She always said that she had had a wonderful life and we can be thankful that she had a peaceful death.

The Principal's Report, 1957 by Mr. P.H Nonis

Kindly sent to me by Arthur d'With Barbut 25/5/09

Photo - Arthur d'With Barbut - Melbourne, Australia

Before entering upon my Report I have the pleasant duty of thanking you Sir Arthur and you Lady Ranasinha for your ready consent to be present with us as our guests of honour this afternoon. We welcome you, Sir, as ii, scholar bred in the best traditions of one of our Sister schools, one who has gained the highest academic and intellectual distinctions. To these you have added an equally distinguished record in the Public Service and in administrative posts of the highest responsibility. We are also deeply grateful to Lady Ranasinha for graciously consenting to give away the prizes and other awards to their recipients. We welcome you both amongst us and appreciate your public spirit in coming to grace our platform when ordinary life holds engagements and responsibilities of a far graver nature.

I also extend a hearty welcome to all our guests, Parents, Old Boys and friends of Wesley. Your interest and attendance here is a great encouragement to the School. We are glad to welcome the Principals of sister schools and to have them on the platform.

For the first time in these series the prizes on this table have been confined to those won by boys of the Middle and Upper Forms of the School. The Junior School celebrated their great day at a separate Prize-Giving held in March.

Any review of the past year's work must begin with a warm tribute to my immediate predecessor in office, Mr. C. J. Oorloff, who was Principal of this school for over seven years-during a period of more than ordinary difficulty for all denominational schools-with far reaching changes in the educational policy of the country-entry into the scheme of Free Education--changes in the media of instruction, a new language policy, shortage of teachers, increase in numbers and even in public holidays. In spite of all this Mr. Oorloff steered the school with remarkable success. The condition of the school bears witness to his able leadership and personal oversight over curriculum, finance and discipline. Mr. Oorloff left us this April to take up the Principalship of Trinity. He has taken with him another valuable member of the staff in the person of his wife. Mrs. Oorloff identified herself in most activities of the school and particularly in the teaching of English Language and Literature in the Upper School and in the activities of the Dramatic Society. We place on record their services to Wesley and wish them happiness and God's blessing in their work at Trinity College.

I should like in particular to thank Mr. and Mrs. Oorloff for their interest in and their work for the Highfield Memorial Building. In this work the Old Boys' Union with the able assistance of their indefatigable Secretary, Mr. Terence de Zylva has been enthusiastic and helpful in various ways. One Old Boy Mr. R. Rustomjee unsolicited gave us Rs. 10,000/- for erecting a room in memory of Mr. C. P. Dias. It is fitting that, in a memorial to Mr. Highfield, the name of his loyal friend and trusted Colleague should also be remembered. The staff and boys, especially those connected with the Drama Society, worked, hard during the year for the Building Fund and from the proceeds of four performances of the comic Opera "Robin Hood-King of Sherwood", a sum of Rs. 2632/10 was added to the Fund. Work on the second stage of the block commenced on March 15th and great progress has been made so far. We have not at present the money sufficient to pay for it when completed, but we have the faith to believe that by the time the last payment is to be made, the money will be available. We shall need about Rs. 25,000/- more to complete the work. I. appeal to all Old Boys, parents, and friends of Wesley to help us to raise up a memorial worthy of the name of a great Principal and educationist.

Staff:-Our staff this year has been a full one, but there have been several changes. We have just lost our Chaplain, the Rev. H. W. Tattersall, who joined us in January 1956. During his short stay with us, he rendered untiring and loyal service. Apart from the normal duties of a school Chaplain and teacher, he identified himself in the work of the boarding house, the Scout troop and the swimming club. He and his family carry with them our good wishes for a happy future in their new sphere of work.

Many changes of staff have taken place during the year. Having served for eleven 5'ears as Chemistry and Mathematics Master, Mr. D. P. George left to join the Y.M.C.A. in his home country. Mr. S. T. Perera after ten years of service at Wesley went as Headmaster of Christ Church College, Tangalle. Mr. M. T. Rajapakse also after ten years with us has joined the Staff of Training College, Peradeniya, Mr. M. Y. de Alwis left for the U.K. on a scholarship to learn S.C.M. work. Mr. W. B. Jayasinghe B.A. Senior Boarding House Master left last week to join the U. S. Embassy as Librarian. Mrs. I. D. M. Van Twest who left us a few days ago rendered efficient service as the Principal's Secretary. These take with them our gratitude for the work they did here and our good wishes for the future.

We have welcomed during the year the following new colleagues :-Mr. Paul Perera, Trained Teacher; Mr. T. Kiruparajah, a specialist in Physical Education; Mr. D. L. Fernando, B.Sc. (Cey.); Mr. C. Ganesh, B.Sc. (Cey.) Mr. D. V. A. Joseph, B.A. (Lond.) Miss N. de Silva-of the Nursery Department, Mrs. A. Rajendran, and two Old Boys, Mr. D.F. Abeyesekera B.A., and Mr. Ivan Ondaatjee.

A sad happening during the year was the death of one of our boys in school-Devananda Peiris, a promising pupil and an active member of the Choir and of the Drama Society. We extend our sympathy to his parents and brothers.

The staff, as usual has given its services whole-heartedly and unreservedly.

Hours spent in the classroom are by no means either the beginning or the end of a teacher's work. The gratitude of all concerned is due to the staff for their unselfish and careful work during another year.

Our results at the University Preliminary Examination were disappointing and fell below the performance of last year. Three out of five Arts students gained direct admission to Peradeniya. Form the Science class only two gained admission to the University; these two will follow the Medical course. At the G.C.E. Examination held in 1956,51 passed the S.S.C. (2 inthe First Division) and 25 were referred. There were 51 distinctions in individual subjects. The Swabasha medium has this year reached our Form V (S.S.C. Class) and our first year Arts candidates will answer most of their papers in the mother tongue. Unless wiser counsels prevail we should be obliged to extend this scheme to the Sixth Form in 1959. We would like to make it quite clear that it is our wish to cooperate with the government in its policy and shall carry out what is asked of us to the best of our ability. We have however, many causes for apprehension over the proposal and the speed at which we are being asked to adopt it. The dangers of such a step have been emphasized by those who are sincerely interested in the cause of true education, including my predecessors in office. It is our fear that there will certainly follow as a result of this change a general fall in tbe standard of our higher education. We must sound a note of warning to the powers against the danger of sacrificing the quality of education for a political expedient. Dr. Johnson said of a certain countrv, "Their learning is like bread in a beseiged town; every man gets a little; but no one gets a full meal." The same danger is with us today. When educational change is so rapid, it is always necessary to remind ourselves that the heritage of culture and knowledge that we pass on to others must retain its standards and integrity.

School activities under the guidance of the staff continue to flourish While the literary Unions function for the most part during school hours; all other societies conduct their meetings entirely outside official school hours. Some of these are the S.C.M.; the Film Society, Camera Club, Pen Pals' Club. During the year a new society, the Music and Drama Society was inaugurated. This has given fresh impetus to the music and drama of the school. A record player purchased by the school is used for special music programmes in addition to playing at school assembly on Mondays and Fridays. The highlight of the year was the staging of the opera referred to earlier. The Choir sang at the S.C.M. Carol service and contributed to the success of two radio services organised by the N.C.C. Under the auspices of the Sixth Form Union, we held inter-school debates with Methodist, Visakha, Ananda and st. Peter's. Oriental dancing is now an activity in the Junior School. Classes are conducted by Sri Jayana the well known dancer. A study tour of the Jaffna Peninsula was successfully organised by the Geographical Society.

It has been a pleasure to have with us during the year at different times distinguished visitors, especially Dr. William A.Shamer, Executive Secretary of the Asian Pacific Division of the World Brotherhood: H. E. Mr. K. Matsumurk, Minister of Education in Japan in the Hatoyama Cabinet, and Rev. Dr. Maldwyn Edwards, Chairman of the Birmingham Methodist Synod. They brought fresh inspiration to us from the world beyond our little island.

. The Scouts Record a year of activity. Three boys of the Senior troop have qualified for the Queen's Scout Badge, while three have been selected to represent Ceylon at the Jamboree to be held in England; one of these days will lead a patrol. In Rev. H. W. Tattersall the troop had a trained and energetic Scoutmaster.

There is no lack of interest and keenness in the numerous games and other activities for which the school provides opportunity. Judged by the high standard which we in recent years have set for ourselves in cricket, the last season was disappointing.. Our team was composed of several inexperienced players. In the early encounters we fared badly, but finished the season on a more cheerful note. Our thanks are due to Mr. A. V. Fernando, our honorary coach, for his unflagging zeal. We are fortunate to have on the staff two past Captains looking after Junior Cricket and hope they will supply the necessary material for the First Eleven each year.

Our athletes met with a fair measure of success in the A.A.A. Junior Championships, Inter-schools' Group Meet and in the Public Schools' Meet, gaining places in individual as well as team events. Our Captain acquitted himself creditably when he won the sprints double at the Public Schools' Meet.

Classes in swimming continue to be held once a week in the Otters Pool.

Over the past five years we have trained boys for the Royal Life Saving Examination. When the school is in a position to afford a regular coach, it should be possible to extend the scope of this activity and produce swimmers to meet interschool standards.

Reference was made in last year's report to Rugger as being a new activity.

It is fairly easy to start a new activity but it needs sustained effort and determination to carry it through. Rugger is a game which is becoming increasingly popular in schools. Our boys. both Seniors and Juniors, have taken to it avidly and are learning the game under the guidance of two honorary coaches, Messrs. F. Kellar and A. P. Koelmeyer, to whom we are deeply indebted.

A group of boys has been attending classes in Judo at the YMCA. All hAVe reached a fair degree of proficiency. but it is too early to say at this stage

The school provides for Hockey, Soccer, Basket Ball, Volley Ball, Tennis, Badminton and Table Tennis. All these have been maintained during the year with keenness and regularity. I would like to record my appreciation of the services rendered by the several games masters, whose names appear on the programme you have in your hands.

Old Boys:-lt is a pleasure to record the achievements of the Old Boys, but I am afraid my record is far from complete as not all news or successes come to our notice. What information we have received is given in the programme in your hands.

I fear this report is rather sketchy. If there are omissions I can only plead that during eleven months of the year under review I have not been here. I am indebted to the goodwill and hard work of others, to my colleagues on the staff in general and to the Vice-Principal in particular, who has been guiding and helping me in most matters of the school's organization. I take this opportunity of publicly thanking them all. Old boys, parents, and friends have been good to us again in the giving of prizes-and we have some additional ones to' thank this year.

As I conclude my first report as Principal of Wesley I am sensible how much l owe to those who have laboured before as Principals-foremost among whom was my own teacher and Principal-the Rev. Henry Highfield. "Other men laboured and ye are entered into their labours." I need hardly say how honoured I feel in being called upon to take over the headship of my old school - a place to which I owe more than I can express in words. I have taken over a' school with a record of excellent service in the past, so full of promise for the future and in which there is a wonderful opportunity for teachers and pupils, past and present. In the educational system of the country Wesley represents the denominational system. This system has recently had its share of unworthy' criticism and even abuse from a certain section of the public, from whom we might have expected some word of appreciation. The country has been told that the aim of these schools is profit-making, that they have tended to denationalise the people, that they have been responsible for the cleavage between the English educated and the swabasha educated, and someone had even gone to the extent of attributing the high rate of crime to the ideals of education imparted in these schools.

I heartily approve of the government's declared policy to open more schools' and the better they are the better will we be pleased. There are today thousands of children who are not housed in schools at all. The pressure of five year olds in the Kindergarten departments threaten their efficient maintenance. It should be remembered that denominational schools took on the work of education at a period when neither the government nor any other organised body was prepared to do so. The work so undertaken has been of great service to the' nation as a whole. These schools have produced leaders in the state and in almost all the major professions. There may have been mistakes but taken as a whole the record of these schools is impressive.

We are grateful for the many tributes that are paid to the schools we Te-present and for what grateful people have to say about our educational ideals and tone. There is still a very large majority of the public professing different religious faiths who believe in the greatness of the opportunities of the type of school we represent, the state aided school based on a religious foundation. The growth of comradeship in work and play amongst the children of different creeds, classes and communities may yet make it the most valuable national asset we have. And those of us who have the joy and the opportunity of moulding this important system are called upon to keep this ideal of its influence before us.

The Principal's Report: March 11TH, 1911
The following was the report read by the Rev. H. Highfield, Principal, Wesley College :-

Dear Mr. Fairlie, I am very pleased to see you occupying the post of honour at a Wesley College Prize-Giving. It is a post that has been filled by. Governor" and Lieutenant Governors, by a Bishop of Colombo, by Generals and Chief Justices and other dignitaries of the State, but it has never had an occupant more worthy than yourself, showing a genuine Christianity applied to the commercial life of the Colony and ready to spend itself in kind services for the community in a hundred different ways. We are all glad that you have recently been invited to take a place in the Colony’s highest Council and are able there to make your influence felt for all good causes. Our last prize-giving was held on November 27th, 1909, when Mr. Justice Middleton presided and the prizes for 1908 were distributed. My report on that occasion brought the College’s history as far as could be up to date. I, therefore; shall to-day endeavour to carry on the account from that time to this I have, therefore, to report on the examination results published since that date and to give the most recent figures both statistical and financial showing the College's progress or retrogression and to touch on those other parts of our collegiate life that cannot really be tabulated, the moral and spiritual well-being or otherwise of our~ recent history and the new developments we arc 'able to report as having taken place during the period under review.

Our numbers keep up well-the number· on the roll. For the year ending November, 1910, is 596 and the average attendance had then risen from 462 to 493, although the number on the roll in the preceding year was only 7 less than that now reported. Our average attendance was 866 as against 822 for the previous year. If the machinery devised for noting the total daily attendance is steadily and conscientiously worked we should be able, I am sure,' to reach the 90 per cent.

Principal's Bungalow

calIn the Cambridge Local Examinations of December 1909, we passed 11 juniors, 3 of whom secured honours and the same three secured also distinction in one subject each. A. S. Cooray passed in the first class and won his distinction in Latin. E. E.Mack obtained a high place in the second class and A P. Basnayake a place in third class honours and each won the, distinction mark in English. The remaining 8 satisfied the examiners. Some little· improvement in mathematics was shown, but this bran oh of our work still leaves much to be desired.

Thirteen seniors passed, of whom three -- O. E. Goonetilleke, C. E. de Pinto, and T. G. Kannangara-:-secured second-class honours, and one, S. F. Perera, a distinction in shorthand and a respectable pass in Book-keeping. Though, quite young we have taken him on to our staff and he is guiding the studies of those who desire to take up commercial subjects. A class has been formed and gradually this will become an organised department of our curriculum. Whilst believing strongly that school is a place for forming character and drawing out capacity and not a place for applying that capacity to specialised work possessing an immediate monetary value in the various fields of employments I am still, I hope, large-minded enough to see that true education can be given in many different ways, and so whilst Wesley College, under my control, will not abandon the classics it is doing its best, under grave financial disabilities, to broaden its outlook and to offer real help to students whose inclination draws them in directions other than literary.

We have not succeeded in passing any ·of our students through the Intermediate Arts, though we came very near to it this year, one passing in Latin, Greek, English and Pure Mathematics, and failing only in Appliec1 Mathematics. One student--T. O. Dharmaratna passed the London Matric. In January, 1910, and three others secured exemption from that examination,

The school inspection in November· last yielded us very good financial results and the passes in standards I-IV in both branches reached a very high percentage indeed. The College income from fees shows a steady tendency to rise, we reported for the year ending November 30th last,' an income of Rs. 18,471-50. This is about 95 per cent' of the total chargeable during the same period. A slight increase was made in the scale of fees in January 1910, and again in 1911. The graphic representation of the comparative course, upward or downward, of fees and of salaries shows that when I was on furlough last the fees total sank below the salaries total, but there has been an unbroken rise in both since my return in May 1906. - The upward tendency of fees has been maintained during the first three months of the current year and there is no reason why, under the able and. conscientious control of the Acting Principal, there should be any falling off. But the expenditure is bound to increase during my absence for it must be remembered that the College is self-supporting so far only as the local staff is concerned the' Mission giving the services of both Principal and Vice Principal, and consequently when either is on furlough, part at least of his work must be paid for out of College income. In February last we opened our boarding house. We began with one resident pupil and now have on our roll 28. These are all or almost all doing well in class work, and I expect the names of some will appear in. the Prize Lists of the near future. They are enthusiastic cricketers for the most part and there, again, are likely to help the College. The care of the boarders has been under the control of Mr. Cash and I cannot speak too highly of the work, moral and spiritual done amongst them both by Mr. and Mrs. Cash. We have ample accommodation for 60 or 70 and shall be pleased to hear of applications, especially for boys under 12 or 13 years of age.

Photo: Rev P T Cash

The Science Department, under the able care of the Vice Principal, is steadily growing and it will not be long before we are presenting candidates for the Inter-Science. Whilst speaking of Science we much protest emphatically against the narrow limitation to Chemistry and Physics in the Civil Service Examination. Geology and Botany are as truly scientific subjects for a country like Ceylon, they are at least as important and as deserving of encouragement, yet our plea to have the latter inserted among the subjects that can be offered has peen repeatedly refused and the former subject is, I understand, being withdrawn from the list.

We have restarted our College Magazine and the first three numbers of the new series are out and can be seen and bought on the precincts today. We charge only 25 cents a copy and are resolved to keep the magazine going so long as it pays. It is essentially a school magazine and record of Wesley College doings, but in those doings, we are very willing to include news of old boys. Our old boys in England are aware of this; but are those nearer home equally alert '? When they in distant stations read this report, let them take careful note of this part in particular and send in names and subscriptions; 90 cents in stamps will bring them very speedily the first three issues.

It is always difficult to report on the religious work of a College anywhere. In ours I believe there is steady attention to Scripture teaching and our Christian meeting has kept going well. A. specially good feature of its work is that some of the boys have themselves given addresses and that when this is the case the attendance is quite as good as, if not better than, on other occasions. We are very much indebted, however, to those who from without have given us so much earnest and valuable assistance. I turn now to sport our inter-collegiate cricket season in 1910 was as great\a success as were those of the two preceding years. We had not expected this, but the team was under an excellent captain and it’s bowling and fielding proved too much for its opponents. We met the Prince of Wales' College after the limited season was over and lost the. match. The season now nearly closed has been almost as bad as the last was good; the team is much stronger as a batting side, but has nothing like the bowling capacity of last year's anc1 the fielding has been poor'. The under 20 rule, passed several years ago, has been carefully observed by us in both seasons and this prevented us using at least one excellent bowler who, otherwise, would still have been in the College team. I would recommend our cricketers to pay more attention to inter-form cricket and have less to do with outside clubs when the brief season of college cricket is over. Football is, I fear, a mere interlude in the real business of cricket and is not taken up seriously.

To the staff one and all, from the Vice-Principal and Headmaster to the newest recruit, I offer my most hearty and sincere thanks. Their loyal cooperation has rendered possible the work done during the year In our Masters' meeting, which we have tried to hold once it month, we have had spirited discussions and many useful suggestions have been given and are even now being put into operation. 'I confidently call on all the masters to support Mr. Cash with the same loyalty, when in a short time he takes up the work as Acting Principal. The Mission has very generously lent to the College the services of the Rev. H. Binks during the year. Mr. Binks is already known to the College in the class· room, on the cricket field, and as a speaker in the Christian meeting. I believe he will find a, very congenial sphere of work and do yeoman service fm the College.

In referring to the Successes and promotions of old boys I do not apologise for not recording all that, it may appear to some, I should have referred to. The list would be much more interesting if there came from "Old Boys" or their friends up to date. Information to be put in the Magazine. As it is, the "Old Boys" must thank the Head Master' for nearly all the records here given.

Messrs. M. B. Abdul Cader and M.W. H. de Silva are to be heartily congratulated on being the first Wesleyites to pass the London B.A. The former has entered Downing College, Cambridge, and is working hard and hopefully for the Law Tripos.

Dr. E. C. Spaar has shown that he has not forgotten his literary studies and has passed the Inter-Arts of London.

Mr, S. T. Carthigasam has won good honours in Civil Engineering at Cambridge. Mr. Arsekularatne has passed the Barristers' Final. Mr. M. T. S. Oyer is now a fully-fledged Advocate Messrs D. W. Walpolle, A. M. Rupesinghe, C. A. Rodrigo,; D. T. M. Kulletileke, B. O. Pullenayagem and H. E. Abeyratne have passed their Proctors' and Notaries' Finale.

Messrs, W. S. Tirimanne- A. de Silva, H. C. Van Dort and W. F. R. Perera have passed successfully through their Medical College course.

Dr. Pestonjee has been promoted Captain in the C. L. I. ; whilst Major T. G. Jayawardane has been appointed Military Intelligence Officer for Ceylon- a new and important post.

Mr. R. F. Honter- our second Ceylon scholar-is now, we understand, Director of Public Instruction in Sierra Leone; and Dr. Brohier has been confirmed in the post of Colonial Surgeon for the Western Province.

My hearty thanks are given to the donors of the following prizes: Attygala Memorial Reading Prizes, English Essay; Science, Logic, and Chitty Memorial Latin Prizes, also to Messrs. Miller for kindly giving the batting prize this year.

MAP Fernando Principal of Wesley College
A Tribute by Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

I came to know MAP in January 1950 when we were both students in Mr MT Rajapakse’s class in Standard 2. He was a quiet lad and got on with his work without getting into trouble. I cannot ever remember him losing his temper despite many provocations during an arduous 12 year period. His ever present smile got him out of trouble when things didn’t go his way. In form 3 we parted company when he proceeded to study the arts and I, the sciences. When I entered the Medical faculty in 1962 MAP proceeded to University for his Bachelor of Arts degree.

There we lost contact until he became the Principal of Wesley College in the new millennium. I recall the time when a friend informed me of his appointment. I was very pleased for him and the school. I was then living in the UK. Whenever I visited Sri Lanka I made it a point to see him with Sarath Wickramaratne , another of our mutual classmates. Sarath hosted us for dinner at the Golf Course on many occasions when we discussed life, common friends and our teachers. We made it a point not to discuss the unpleasant school politics.

Since the 1960's Wesley and its affiliated organisations have been beset with problems. Due to the disunity in the OBU-Colombo it was disbanded. The Welfare Society was poorly lead and did not support the school adequately. Succesive Principals felt the Methodist Church did not give them support, encouragement or direction. The true state of the finances of the school remained a mystery. It was a turbulent period with the country at war. The needless bureaucracy of the Department of Education was a thorn in the flesh . Only the Mafia could survive in that climate of mistrust. Once these factors are considered we would see the past decade in a different light.

MAP’s tenure as Principal was not without controversy, like all the Principalships since PH Nonis. There were problems at the school but the school had its share of success too. He weathered a period of intense hostility towarsd the end of his reign as he was enveloped in controversy. This exposed the harsh reality of the task ahead. Under a benign and affable exterior, he was a man of some steeliness. MAP I know now is no different from the one I knew nearly 60 years ago, an honest and kind man. He brought to the top job in the school qualities of humanity and care for people at all levels which inspired great loyalty and affection. He was strongly supported by his wife who was also a senior science teacher at Wesley College.

He had a deep love for the school. MAP was headhunted by Shelton Wirasinghe when he was a junior Manager in a Sri Lankan Bank. Later in his career he gave up a lucrative job in Saudi Arabia to become the Principal of his alma mater. He has been associated with the school for well over 60 years as a student, teacher, Vice Principal and then as Principal. Let us remember the good. He belongs to our brotherhood of distinguished old boys.

There was a grand Felicitation Ceremony for his dedication to Wesley College over such a long period. It was held on the 21st of March 2009 at the BMICH organised by the PTA, Welfare Society and the Colombo OBU. The many who attended the event were treated to a fine display of music and dance performances and a tableau depicting the life of MAP Fernando. It was a moving farewell to a much loved educationist. I join the many who were there at his farewell ceremony to say thank you and wish Mr MAP Fernando a long and happy retirement. May God be with him and his family in the years to come.

MAP Fernando - Remembered by Lalith C.R Wijesinghe

MAP and I were in parallel batches, he in the Arts and I in Science during our Sixth Form years at College. In spite of this we were not close friends.

In the late 1960’s we met again as Assistant Teachers at Wesley.Afgher Mohideen who also Joined the tutorial staff at this time,MAP and I became very good friends. Shelton Wirasinha was the Principal during this period. I recall vividly how MAP shunned other career opportunities. He was bent on becoming a Teacher ,to serve his Alma Mater.Our advise and coaxing did not deter him from his resolve.

Our fiendship blossomed and I soon realised that MAP was a quiet, reliable and sincere friend. He was a sobering influence even as a young man. God fearing and steadfast in nature. The fact that he had to take on family responsibility as a growing young man – due to the loss of his Father- moulded him to be a decent, humane person. He retained his high moral values during his whole tenure at Wesley - as a teacher and finally as Principal . Holding such a demanding and challenging position as the Principal of a school such as Wesley will not be devoid of the brickbats he faced from many a quarter. I think MAP has done himself proud by providing this unstinting , loyal and long service to Wesley at her time of need.

My friendship with MAP has been long and continues to this day. I wish him, his wife Ranjani and young family all the very best .

MAP ... as I know him! By Kumar de Silva

My early recollections of MAP Fernando were those of a simple, quiet, soft-spoken, persuasive teacher who was always dressed in white. Forty years later he STILL fits the bill, though of course the white has now extended to his graying hairline.

MAP was my father's friend - both teachers on the staff at College when the legendary Shelton Wirasinha presided over Karlsruhe as the Bard of the Wesley Manor.

Having a father on the staff, I was one of the few privileged students who had meals and tea in the main staffroom. I abandoned this practice in higher grades when it became embarrassing.

My mind goes back to 1972, to a Monday morning assembly in the College Hall with ASW in the chair. We were introduced to a new member ofthe staff - a Miss. Ranjani Vinitha Wijetunge. She was a fair, pretty and rather vivacious young lady who wore an orange pant suit, which was ires a fa mode at thattime. She had just returned from Connecticut in the USA where she had been teaching Science ... and alas ... spoke with a heavy accent. It was incomprehensible to us ten-year aids and baffled us.

A romance subsequently blossomed between MAP and Miss. Wijetunge and was yet barely evident. Even at that time the Wesley College staff was sharply divided in their response. Some were totally forthe liaison while others were vehemently against it. Well ... the young couple came from different religious backgrounds. I remember my father belonging to the former category and giving them all the moral support he could. Defying peer opposition and appreciating peer support, a few years later, MAP and Miss. Wijetunge tied the nuptial knot.

She was our class teacher that year and we planned to give her a "thundering" send-off on the last day of term prior to the Christmas holidays since she was to come back the following year as Mrs. Ranjani Fernando.

Our class room was unfortunately right behind the staff room. We threw caution to the winds and went ahead with our plan. After the reports were distributed and everyone settled down for their respective class parties, out came the two packets of crackers (one each in honour of MAP and RW) which we lit inside a desk.

{Bang-Bang-Bang' went the massive explosion in the still of the late morning. The poor staff members were taken unawares and leapt out of their seats in the adjoining staff room, spilling their food and tea all over themselves. Explosions were not as commonplace at that time as they are today.

Then sank in the reality! Vice Principal Dunstan Fernando walked into class with his face as black as thunder and swishing his cane in hand. Expressionless, he queried the source of the sound. We could not lie since the wretched desk was still emanating smoke. We replied poked faced with pretentious innocence. "Sir, our class teacher is getting married to MAP Sir and we want to celebrate". He glared at us, did a 180 degree turn and walked out. I still bless him for that magnanimous gesture.

RW walked in a few moments later, embarrassed and amused. I bet she was hugely flattered and enjoyed every moment of it although she never admitted it openly. MAP was also amused I believe, but, in his characteristic style, pretended the incident never happened.

My respect for the man increased a hundred fold seven years ago when I opted to remove my Grade 01 son Rahul after the first term. I expected him to be MAD with me and blast me. I knew he was disappointed too. All he said was, lilt is your wish. Do as you wish". Such was the greatness in this man.

As MAP leaves Wesley after a long and memorable innings, College loses yet another member the old vintage and the grand old era .. the era of Felix Premawardene, Haig Karunaratne, Jayantha Premachandra, Basil Mihiripenna, AK Suppiah, Nirmalie Fernando etc to name a few. Farewells are indeed always sad affairs. As one who knew him over 40 years, I wish him the best of health at this stage of his life, great contentment and a happy retirement. The man deserves it !!!

Dr Shanti McLelland- On his appointment as Principal

By Edmund Dissanayake

The 11th of May 2009 was a red letter day in the history of Wesley College, when a new Principal was Inducted. Rev. J. Ebenezer, Manager of the School, referred to the many attributes of Dr. Shanthi Mclelland, besides being an outstanding sportsman, an eminent educationist, his legal background and knowledge of Accountancy, should be of immense help in the task of administration.

Although no invitations had been sent for the induction, several of his former teachers, and former Wesley sportsmen, together with the two loyal Campbell Park groundsmen of yore, Vincent and Charlie, were also present.

Dr. Shanti set a new trend prior to his address, when he asked all his former teachers, former Wesley sportsmen, including the groundsman to speak a few words prior to his address.

In the course of his Address, he stated that he had been in touch with several Wesleyites abroad who had assured him of unstinted support to help the school in various ways. He specifically mentioned Bill Deutrom, Bryan Claessen, Darrel Maye, Keyt de Kretser, Dr. Lou Adhihetty, Brian Mack, Senthil Sinniah, Sextus Taylor etc.

The College Choir and the Band drew several plaudits. The quiet dignity that prevailed throughout was a hallmark of the entire proceedings, which ended with the stentorian rendering of the College song followed by the national Anthem.

As I looked around, in deep contemplation, from the Principal’s Bungalow, in the company of Wesley’s oldest living Life Member, Shelton Peiris, it was with great sadness, that I thanked my mentor, Mahendra, for bringing me to this hallowed school, possibly for the last time!

Rev Henry Highfield's letter to Mr.Oorloff in 1951
Links to further reading

The Speech by Rev Henry Highfield at the Wesley College OBU

Annual Dinner 1912

Mr. Bertram, gentlemen, I thank you, Sir, for· the very hearty way in which you have proposed the toast of ‘Wesley College tonight and for reminding us of John Wesley, the great and good man whose name we bear. Wesley College I suppose really received its name because it is the head College of the Wesleyan Mission in Ceylon, but we are Wesleyans because we follow John Wesley and the College, so opened has this link at any rate with John Wesley. It was opened on the 2nd March, 1874, and the 2nd March was ‘the day on which John Wesley passed away in 1791. And on the death clay of John Wesley we revived in the educational sphere of the East the spirit of our founder. I think I may safely say, Sir, that I am sure that enthusiasm and ardour are to be found in the Wesley College of today. (Applause.) And I am sure that there are many enthusiastic and thoroughly alive students in Wesley College as I hope we shall be showing in the years to come. I believe that Wesley College has done a good work already in Ceylon. (Applause.) I believe its best ,days are yet to come. I hope every institution looks forward to the future with hopefulness and determination to make the future better than the past. However much we may be proud, and rightly proud, of the achievements of those who in the pioneer days gathered around the standard of Wesley we hope that those now associated with the new College will do more, and will go on still further.

Colleges like Wesley in Ceylon stand for an English education under religious influence in education ‘which I am convinced cannot be beaten anywhere, if both these elements are true and vigorous. I believe strongly in the usefulness of strenuous and friendly. rivalry. I hope that my past conduct as Principal of Wesley has proved this to the hilt. (Loud applause,) We have ever striven to be friends with those great Colleges that are our rivals and have so often beaten us ‘and whom we have, occasionally beaten, whether in the scholarship lists or in the cricket field. I hope that the rivalry that there has been between these great Colleges, particularly in Colombo, will go on and continue even if changes may come, about in our educational ‘world. in the immediate future.’ (Applause.) I do not know what is in the mind of the Mayor of Colombo-(laughter)-and what is in the records of the Committee that has’ been sitting for such a Long time. Various rumors have got abroad, and think it seems to be generally expected that considerable changes are going to take place and that ‘over all of us, these Colleges as they now exist, there is to be some higher College into which our senior and most distinguished students will be drafted. (Hear, hear.) I am not going to say whether that will be wholly for good, It will depend very much upon the methods that are used in carrying out such a policy. It will be’ necessary, I hold, at any rate, that there should be some sort of link of continuity between the Colleges that now exist and that will continue to exist, to bind us all together and so make us feel that our interests are all united, that we can all take an enthusiastic part in the well-being and the prosperity of that higher College. All this will need very great care in managing. “But I hope that we may continue to remain the friendly rivals that we have been.

Some have thought because I have pointed to the fact that Government is’ only educating about 3 per cent, is only responsible for about 3 per cent, of the higher education of this Colony, and that something like 72 per cent is in the hands of missionary bodies, Christian missionary bodies, the remaining 25 per cent in the hands of religious bodies, non-Christian, that I have been hinting that it was a very small proportion for Government to be responsible for, and that it was hardly worth its while that it should look after so small a part That has not been my thought at all. I have been glad for the lead that Government has given us. I am one of those who will always confess that ‘as regards results the Royal College as it has been in the past and as it is to-day, is ahead of all the other Colleges, and always will be ahead (Hear, hear.) And whilst I hold that the best education may not be that which secures the most brilliant results in the class lists, I say it must, be accompanied “With a thorough Religious atmosphere in the College, yet I am also very, strongly of opinion that there should be through liberty of conscience and there are some’ who approve, and thoroughly and honestly approve, of an education apart from distinctively religious instruction. I am quite sure, ‘therefore, that the Royal College in the past has been meeting a felt need and I hope that it will continue even in the changed order of things as our friendly rival and the harbour for those who desire their children to be brought up in an atmosphere not distinctly religious, though I hope and I believe I have every confidence in realising that in the past the spirit of the Royal College has been very high, and very noble and that it will continue so in the future, Gentlemen, I want to say one or two words to you as Wesleyites. (Applause.) Some of you are quite young as old boys.

I want you to be vigorous members of this Association. This is not really the toast, but I do want to say here a word and to ask you to stand very loyally by the Association and .show your interest as opportunity offers in the College that gave you your education. (Hear, hear:) Many of you individually are most enthusiastic. I have had many proofs of it, but there does seem to be something lacking in your conjoint enthusiasm and co-operation with us. I do not know where the fault is. If you can show it is in me and if I can alter I shall be very glad to do, but I want to say to-night : Back up your Alma Mater through the Association.. Let that Association be alive as the College is alive today.:’ (Applause.)., And I hope that when from time to time we suffer defeats, .as is only the fate of those who fight, that you will not despair of your. . old school or say that things are going .. to the. dogs .. that they, are not as they were in the old time when you were’ there ... (Laughter.) A last word, Mr. Bertram, and that is to thank you again and to thank all of you who have come as our’ guests to-night, for your presence and your sympathy. I am quite sure, that the toast at these gatherings of the. Sister Colleges means a great deal It does really mean that we; do care. for one another and that we have a real sympathy one with the other. I am very grateful for your presence here to-night. ‘We have not had many Old Boys’ dinners. This is really only the, second function, and that reminds me I have to say one other’ word to the Old Boys’ Association. I want you to remember that I do not think that you were really showing your honour of me when you did not, celebrate your dinner during my absence. I wish this year’s were the third occasion and that you had had a dinner last year, and I hope you will ‘not give up your dinners, because the Principal happens to be on furlough or unable to preside. There is always one capable of taking his place, and it is the College you are really honouring; and I hope, you will never intermit a year in celebrating this function. (Loud and continued applause.)

Meeting Shanti McLelland in London by Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

24th May 2011

Photo: The Editor with Shanti McLleland

It was with great pleasure I accepted an invitation for dinner from the OBU-UK to meet and greet the Principal of Wesley College on the 19th of May 2011. The venue was the Lihiniya, a restaurant in Cricklewood Broadway, London. A place for authentic Sri Lankan food popular among the expat community..

Shanti Mclelland arrived smartly dressed with his retinue of friends and well wishers. After the brief pleasantries we sat down to dinner. Before the food there was an important speech by the Principal with a question and answer session. He outlined the current state of play at the school which was impressive. It is a welcome change from the 30 year spiral of decline which many thought would end in the demise of the school. Shanti took us on a journey to our dismal recent past and diplomatically avoided any critical comments but showed the extent of the decline and the adverse effect it had on the good name of the school, its pupils and teachers. The buildings were in such a poor state of repair there were serious safety concerns.

It was most encouraging to listen to him speak of his vision for the future which will take the school to the upper echelons of education in Sri Lanka. This I believe has been the dream of every Wesleyite since the school began.  After Shanti has taken charge Wesley’s academic results have improved in leaps. We have done exceptionally well in Sports and also the Arts. As he rightly says there is always room for improvement and refinement. He is on the job to make it a satisfying experience for every schoolboy. Shanti is a natural and charismatic leader. With his sporting prowess, debating skills and academic rigour he has the ability to effortlessly dominate a discussion, and he did this with great panache and style.

I was most impressed with the pastoral care given to the students who are less well off.  Shanti has put in place changes to improve the facilities available to those who have learning difficulties. This indeed has brought the school forward into the 21st century. He is determined to reduce the class size to 30 students which is the optimum to allow individual attention, when required.

There is some uncertainty about the future use of Campbell Park which is on a lease to Wesley College. This has been a recurrent problem for many years and the solution sadly seems to be political and without a logical conclusion. At present we hire the grounds at a nominal fee acceptable to the local schools. This has helped us to maintain good relations with our neighbours which hopefully will help us when decisions are taken about the future of Campbell Park.

I spent 6 years of my school life in the boarding. The decline in the number of boarders and the poor state of the boarding house was always a matter of grave concern. Shanti commented that much of the infrastructure has been restored to its former glory and has been updated to a high standard. The number of boarders has been gradually increasing. We were assured he has upgraded the kitchen and improved the woeful standard of hostel food. The toilets and the bathrooms have been modernised and refurbished. It seems we have never had it so good!! The rejuvenation of the boarding gives me such great pleasure and hope.

After 40 years of neglect English has been given its rightful place in the school curriculum. It is a new dictat from the Department of Education which Shanti has been quick to implement giving Wesleyites better opportunities in the wider world. The classes now are streamed not according to the students' mother tongue but their ablity, fast tracking able kids and providing more help for the rest. This is a tried and tested practice in British Public Schools, which I am sure will serve us well. This will also take us further in our path to racial harmony.

I have visited Wesley many times since leaving school.  Once I addressed the Sixth formers in the Great Hall.  I was appalled to see the teachers poorly dressed. Some wore “bush Shirts” and slippers which would have our respected teachers of old turn in their graves. Shanti has introduced a new dress code for teachers. Now the teachers are appropriately dressed. They conduct themselves with dignity and consequently have earned the respect of students and their parents. Shanti in return have given the teachers more privileges to improve their academic status by further study. They now have a stake in the success of the school. It’s as much about modernisation as going back to tradition. Shanti is convinced that the school can be transformed by a mixture of old-fashioned teaching methods and modern technology.

Welfare Society, which had a poor reputation in the past is under the direct management of the Principal.  Its income is now available for the running of the school and for its multitude of important duties and functions. Financial state of the school is healthy. Wesley College is able to balance its books.  Donations and funds from well wishers, parents and old boys are always welcome. The current big project is the new Swimming Pool which I am told is essential for a school like Wesley College to attract students and to survive and thrive in the current climate.

The resurgence of Wesley College is the talk of the town. Even if you aren’t there, you want to be. It is not just nostalgia. Our heritage is precious and priceless. News of our success has trickled down to the public through media coverage and by word of mouth. The sheer numbers of parents willing and waiting to send their children to Wesley College is ample testimony to Shanti McLelland's succesful tenure as Principal of Wesley College.

Shanti McLelland has established himself in the public eye and the next year will prove vital in creating momentum and a sense of direction. He has built a persona and now there is a sense of what his leadership offered. The session ended on a happy note of euphoria. As I walked out of Lihinya that night I was quietly confident of a successful outcome for Wesley.

I give Shanti my very best wishes for a long and rewarding time as the Principal of Wesley College.

Links to further reading

Dr McLelland - An Educator Par Excellence

7th April 2012

By Hari Parameswaran

He is brilliant and dynamic. If one has to describe the current principal of Wesley College, Colombo, I could not think of any expression other than the one above. In fact, I have been thinking of a title for my first article for some time now and I repeatedly came up with the above theme. So, here is my take on the ongoing transformation that is taking place under the stewardship of Dr. Shanti McLelland.

Some background information

Photo: Hari V. Parameswaran with his wife Dr. Rashmi Venkateswaran, Son Amaresh and Daughter Nikhila

Anyone who has been following Wesley's existence in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) would agree on one thing: that she has been very fortunate to have had excellent principals over the last 138 years. These incredible stewards steered Wesley during tough, rough and good times and had unwavering loyalty towards Wesley. This commitment has brought glory and respect to Wesley, and also produced some of the finest scholars in all spheres of life in Sri Lanka and abroad, in fields such as education, sports, culture, politics and more. From this list of distinguished principals, Wesley's current principal, Dr. Shanti McLelland stands out as a very special person worthy of mention and praise.

Why I chose to visit Wesley now?

I have only been back to Wesley once since I left the College in 1980. Upon graduation, I got a job at Maharaja's and worked there for a few years until I left Sri Lanka to pursue further studies in the USA. I have to thank another Wesleyite, Krishorkumar (Sam), who was instrumental in laying the groundwork for my studies in USA. After I received my MBA from Suffolk University, Boston, I settled down in North America. Although I was always a very proud Wesleyite, I did not remain in contact with the College or its alumni as there were some "issues" (for lack of a better politically correct expression) that made me desire to remain aloof. The situation remained unchanged until I came across an "Avatar" who appeared to transform Wesley. Although it was not intended that way, I could not help but go with my inner feelings. My renewed desire to visit Wesley came to fruition in November 2011 when I visited Sri Lanka.

One of my daily rituals is to read Wesley College-related articles written by fellow Wesleyites on the Wesley College website. I not only enjoy them but view them as a "walk down memory lane". One person whose name kept coming to my mind was that of Dr. McLelland, affectionately known as "Shanti". He wrote many articles and I was very intrigued and impressed with his loyalty and affiliation towards his alma mater, Wesley. I came to know Shanti in person when I attended the Wesley College Alumni meeting that was held in Toronto in January 2011. I was so happy to see and meet him in person. What I saw and heard there convinced me that "here is the man destined by the Gods to be an avatar". He would be the one to revamp and transform Wesley back to her glorious past times when Wesley produced eminent professionals, including Rhodes Scholars, Test Cricketers, and National badminton and Hockey players (Dr. McLelland himself was a former Sri Lanka Hockey Player). That meeting was attended by a small but strong and loyal group of old Wesleyites. I was so proud to be there, hearing everything from the man who has been the centre of all the beautiful things that have been happening at Wesley.

Memories of my lifetime still lingering on…….

Although my visit lasted a little less than 3 days, I brought back lots of beautiful evergreen memories that would last with me forever. Dr. McLelland took the time to brief me on all developments and guided me around the College campus, pointing out each and every new development that had been taking place. The bathrooms, urinals (much talked about during my time at Wesley), hostel and kitchen facilities have been transformed to be on par with Western standards. The prefects' guild is back to its former professional look. Wesley College's magnificent facade has not lost even an inch of its former grandeur. The swimming pool was in the process completion, TRULY A DREAM COME TRUE. The idea of a pool for Wesley had been floating around for a long time and the credit for making it a reality goes to Shanti and his strong leadership, coupled with the aid of the dynamic personalities in the Wesley College Pool Project Committee, http://www.wesleyobu.lk/wesleypool/. The classrooms are in good condition but there is still the need for new desks and chairs for the students. I also had the privilege of addressing the Assembly, and that brought back many beautiful memories. It was a speech that I gave from my heart. There was nothing to prepare because I was sharing beautiful moments and experiences from my life. I was quite emotional when everyone stood up to give me a standing ovation. The assembly ended with the college song and the Sri Lankan national anthem. I also had an opportunity to meet Mr. Jothipala Samaraweera, Wesley's Table Tennis Coach. Mr. Samaraweera and my uncle, Mr. P. V. Gopalakrishnan, played together on the Sri Lankan National Table Tennis team. He took the time to meet with me at the Principal's bungalow. Another brilliant teacher during my time at Wesley, Mr. Haig Karunaratne, was there with his usual flair, doing some teaching for members of the staff guild and I got an opportunity to greet him. Dr. McLelland also asked me to be present at several meetings, including the Welfare Association and Swimming Pool Development Committee meetings, and I had the privilege of meeting personalities such as Mr. Raja Sinnathurai, Farveez Mahroof and others.

Shanti ! down to earth, open-minded and a no-nonsense personality….

My friend Mr. Subramaniam, who was kind enough to receive me at the Colombo airport and who without any hesitation took me around to different places in his car, told me even before he met Shanti, that he is the most talked-about personality among the principals of leading colleges in Sri Lanka. When he met Shanti, he could not believe his professionalism and open-door welcoming policy. He kept on telling me how simple and easy-going Shanti was and he was very impressed with his engaging style. I also had the privilege of meeting one of the better known senior prefects of my time, Mr. Patrick Edema.

A good host who made me feel at home……

Mr. Sivalingam, who has been part of the Wesley's loyal support staff, made sure that I was extremely comfortable. Between the Principal and Mr. Sivalingam, I was treated royally and they both extended the best possible hospitality. I really have to thank both of them for their kindness to me and my friend Subramanian. The two nights I was there, Shanti and I shared

our experiences at Wesley and his vision to make Wesley the best and most sought after college in Sri Lanka. I am proud to say that I spent more than 12 years at this great institution of learning.

Why Wesley?.....

When I was in India with my parents, I asked them why they chose Wesley over other leading colleges in Colombo; this was their response.

"We know that we could have put you in any college in Colombo. We had a choice between Royal, St. Joseph's and St. Benedict's. We wanted you to go to a place not just for the education, but for the whole experience. We wanted your experience to mould you into a well-disciplined and nurtured person who would be a good citizen of the world. Wesley was the place we wanted you to go and so we met with Mr Shelton Wirasinha (Principal of Wesley at that time) and asked him to admit you to Wesley."

Between my brother Ramachandran Parameswaran (Ram), my cousin Venkata Giri Raman (Girish) and myself we spent 36 wonderful years at Wesley. We talk about Wesley all the time. All three of us have represented Wesley in table tennis and I also captained the team in 1977-78. Both my brother (Ram) and my cousin (Girish) have won Wesley colours for table tennis. I still meet Mr. Mervyn Gunanayagam (Wesleyite and former Ruggerite) frequently for coffee in Ottawa and our conversation always bring back the good old memories of Wesley. Where do we go from here?

In order to stay at the top, Wesley needs the help and support of old boys and well-wishers. We have the most dynamic Principal in Dr. Shanti McLelland, who has sacrificed so much by leaving everything he had in Canada to lead Wesley's march towards continued success.



May God bless Wesley College !

Ora et Labora

Hari Venkat Parameswaran ASc.(USA), BSc.BA(USA), MBA(USA) Chartered Manager(Canada)

Fellow of Institute of Professional Financial Managers(UK)

Hari is a Financial Advisor, attached to the Government of Canada and he lives in Ottawa, Canada with his family. Hari was at Wesley from 1966-1980 in the Tamil medium, first NCGE batch

Links to further reading

Principal's Report - Prize Giving 2012 by Dr Shanti McLelland

“An education system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life” …… Mark Twain

The Chief Guest, Prof. Sudath Kalingamudali, Members of the Governing Board, Welfare Society, Parent Teacher Association, Old Boys Union, Past Teachers, and Well Wishers. On behalf of the staff and students of Wesley College, I extend a warm welcome to you all to our Annual Prize Giving of the 138th Anniversary, especially to our Chief Guest Prof. Sudath Kalingamudali..

Professor Kalingamudali, we thank you for accepting our invitation and honouring us with your presence today. We thank all of the other distinguished guests who have accepted our invitation to grace this occasion. We thank all parents for their presence today. Honoured guests, your presence are an encouragement to all our Award winners who will walk up to the stage this evening.

I wish to share a few hallmarks of your illustrious career as an example, especially for the young and curious minds. Professor Sudath Kalingamudali was a student at Wesley from 1968 to 1981 and qualified to proceed for university education. Currently, Dr. Kalingamudali is a Professor at  the Department of Physics, University of Kelaniya joining the university in 2007.   In his path to the prestigious position, he initially, he passed the National Cetificate in Electrical Engineering while completing a certificate course in Modern Languages specializing in French and Technical English Examination at University of Kelaniya. Professor Kalingamudali excelled at the BSc (Special) Degree program gaining a First Class Honours to pass out from the same university in 1990. The Dissertation titled “Fabrication and characterization of p-CuxS/n-Cu2O junction diode”.   He quickly finished the PhD program at the Department of Electronic & Electrial Engineering at the University of Sheffield passing out in 1994. Thesis title “Leakage effects in AIGaAs/GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistors”. 

In his illustrious career, in 2010/11 he served as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Electrical and computer Engineering, Louisiana State University, USA on a Fulbright Fellowship.  Previously he was the Head of the Department of Physics, University of Kelaniya and attached to the university of Kelaniya from 1997 onwards.  In 2002, he had the distinction of being selected for a Senior Fulbright Fellowship and served as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University, USA. 

Wesley College has embarked on an exciting new journey that would give teachers, students, and parents a better environment to impart, receive, and celebrate success at examinations and extra-curricular activities. Students enjoy the freedom and study in a kind environment without heavy corporate punishment. Now we follow a no punishment no tolerance policy to maintain discipline. We have teamed to help students who need counseling and financial assistance. We reach out to parents to help them in time of need. At Wesley, with the help of parents, old boys and teachers we believe in helping students who are less fortunate as well those with learning disabilities to excel. 

In 2010, our GCE (Ordinary Level) results showed an extraordinary improvement from the 69% in 2009 to 93%.  English Language pass rate surpassed expectations with 97% success, along with 86% success rate mathematics. Comparatively, the results were significantly the same in 2011. One student obtained distinctions in all subjects and 10 students obtained 8 distinctions. At the GCE Advanced Level Examination in 2011, Eighty-three of our Students qualified to enter University and 18 were called for University Entry. 

Last year we introduced the monthly tests, first term exams and more focused parents meeting supported by formative monthly assessments, subject seminars by experts in the field, learning to learn programs and motivational meetings. Records show that Teacher-Student ratios are more favourable than in the previous years.  

In the field of sports Wesley excelled in hockey to become unofficial champions with an exampalry record throught the year. Four players were selected to the Invitation tournament in Bangkok, Thailand. In  soccer we did extremely well beating some of the more fancied teams. The Rugby team fared well in the Inter School “A” division league championships. We have significantly done better than last year in Cricket, Table Tennis, Badminton, Tennis, and Athletics. Our Juniors did well in Table Tennis to be ranked number one. We continue perform well in Basket Ball, Chess, and Aesthetics studies.

After starting the work on the swimming pool development project, swimming, is becoming a preferred sport with the help of qualified and dedicated coaches. Our boys have consistently performed excellently well in Art, Music, and Dancing in all three media, specializing in Eastern, Western and Karantic sections. Our Hewisi Band and the Brass Bands, junior and senior were invited by many schools and organizations due to their high standard of performance.  We are proud of our College Band and College Choir who emerged Second at the Winter Carols Competition.  The school debating team excelled at the Inter-school debating championships and took the initiative to train many other schools to upgrade their standards. Our team captain was selected to participate at the World debating championships in South Africa. The Drama group did well at the Shakespeare Drama Competition.  Three of the debaters participated at the prestigious Asian Championships in Philippines. The Junior Speech-craft program for the development of public speaking skills in English proved to be a total success. The Partnership with Rotrac Club of Colombo North was a successful venture helping all students in the primary school to develop speech and language skills in English.

As in the past, at the “Proud to be a Wesleyite” event, a select number of Past and Present Wesleyites was given the privilege of experiencing the rich tradition of Wesley in the past 138 years guided by the connotation of our motto “Ora et Labora”.  Wesley College has now introduced a totally refreshing experience of teaching and learning at Karlsruhe. Wesley is continuing to provide new opportunities in “Mart or Hall”, on the playing fields of Campbell Park, inside the hallowed halls of Wesley and the Cartman Library, and even at the “Park in The City” environment of Wesley’s lush green sports grounds. The magnificent hostel buildings decked with Burma Teak and high ceilings with polished timber, along with state of the art washrooms upgraded having a distinctive modern appeal and contemporary outlook to promote holistic and healthy life styles. These teaching and learning opportunities give hope and promise to those who love and cherish the rich traditions of Wesley. Wesley College gives the teachers and students the assurance of a total “Teaching, Learning, and Performing” experience at the Double Blue!

Today, at the 138th Annual Prize Giving, Wesleyites who have been persistent, determined and consistently desire to exceed academic achievement will be awarded the converted “Hill Medal” and the class and special prizes honoured by the Wesley Community through the “Scholarships and Awards Trust Fund”. Wesley boys who perform on stage and electrify the audiences, outperform their opponents in debating and public speaking contests, as well as students who excel in Mart or Hall, or in Art, Dance, Music, and Drama will proudly don the “College Colours”. The winners of “College Colours” will have the honour of displaying Wesley’s iconic crest of twelve shells and the rugged cross. The modern pedagogy of tutorial staff of Wesley will promote a proud sense of excellence, efficiency and loyalty with a kinder and warmer smile replacing the unpleasant “Corporate Punishment” of the past decades.

The effectiveness, efficiency, elegance and grace of the Double Blue will be accentuated and traditions will be preserved by hundreds of empathetic teachers and illustrious students at Wesley who will be “Ready when the Call shall Sound” to endure this transformation in the 138th year of Wesley’s tradition for excellence in education. The Wesley students discipline is at its best surpassing all other schools portraying the “Best of Men of Grit”. The Double Blue colour palette with the elegant turquoise light blue blended with iridescent shade of dark blue splashed in the centre on the robust “College Crest” glorifying the vision of “Rev. John Wesley” the founder of Methodism in 1814, and of “Rev. D. H. Pereira” the founder of Wesley College in 1874.

Echoing the sentiments of Rev. Henry Higfield Principal (1895-1925), Colleges like Wesley stand for an English education under religious influence, which we are convinced cannot be beaten anywhere, if both these elements are true and vigorous. At Wesley we believe strongly in the usefulness of strenuous and friendly rivalry. Now, with new strategies and sweeping changes Wesley is certainly back to basics and to our traditional focus. We are changing the teaching and learning experience in a new-dimensional manner and stretching the boundaries of excellence in teaching and learning. Wesley College will continue this journey of new discovery with comfortable classrooms, better teaching and learning facilities have been upgraded to give a completely new look and feel to the experience of learning at Wesley College, which aims to be one of the best in the region.

At this moment, I wish to refresh the memories of all those who are interested in the success of Wesley, the words of former Principal, Mr. A.S. Wirasingha on 15th January 1962. “This is the moment of rededication in my life. It is my hope and prayer that this school will be allowed to function by the state in an atmosphere of freedom. Education does not end with the gaining of jobs; it is much more than that. Education is the training and discipline of the entire person”.

Going forward after 138 years, innovative changes at Wesley are geared to combine to evoke Wesley’s time-tested values to reminisce the nostalgia of a bygone era and the tradition of excellence in education, yet portraying a vibrant school with a proud but humble brand identity. Indeed … we are changing the way we teach, learn and play! Undeniably the aim of the holistic education at Wesley is to churn out great citizens who could be outstanding leaders in their chosen fields.

“Ora et Labora”

The Appointment of a new Principal in 2009

By Dr. Nihal D Amerasekera

The appointment of a new Principal is a momentous event in the history of the school. Dr Shanti McLelland is an old boy of Wesley College from the Oorloff-Nonis-Wirasinha era and was a keen natural sportsman excelling in Hockey and Athletics. He was resident in Toronto, Canada before Joining the school as its Principal in May 2009. He has strong links with the past teachers and Old Boys which will be a great asset in dealing with the issues ahead. When he takes on a job, anyone who knows Dr McLelland will be aware that he means business. His fortitude, dogged determination and vigorous enthusiasm is infectious.It is impressive seeing in action so much of the affection generated by old boys, for the benefit of the school, since his appointment. May his task ahead be rewarding. We wish him a long and happy time at Wesley. After three years - 2012: Shanti and his wife left a comfortable life in Toronto to become the Principal of Wesley College. There was much to be done to bring it back to its former glory. He is a free-thinking, independent-minded man and and his background is in Business and Education. Resourceful, resolute and fearless Dr McLelland was the ideal choice for the task. He has grasped with both hands the opportunity of helping to restore the school's pride and fortunes and have succeeded in driving forward his own reforms in his own inimitable style. He is unflappable and exudes cool, quiet authority. Dr. McLelland has a remarkable memory for names and faces, an excellent head for figures and always does his own homework rather than accept briefings. He has a tremendous work ethic working late into the evenings on weekdays and weekends. This has helped him enormously to get on top of the work load. He has insisted on the primacy of the customer ie. the student and his parents. He cares passionately about student welfare. The improved results at Public Examinations and the success in sports are a tribute to his hard work and ability and also that of his dedicated staff. The school buildings and the grounds now look pristine.

Principal's Bungalow

Addendum: The new swimming pool has brought the institution into the 21st Century. Our reputation and standing as a school has enhanced beyond measure. Once again Wesley College is in the forefront of education in the island of Sri Lanka. Dr McLelland's tireless efforts and honesty of purpose reflects his affection for his alma mater. His pluck, persistence and reforms have paid off and his reputation for competence remains intact. May his Midas touch dazzle us for many more years to come.

Links to further reading

Dr. Shanti McLelland A Principal with a Mission 

11th April 2014

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera

I have been made aware that Dr Shanti McLelland will be leaving Wesley College in mid April 2014 handing over the school to an interim Principal, Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, prior to the accession of  Mr. Ben Manickam as the new Principal in September this year. They are both distinguished old boys and I wish them well.

Dr. McLelland’s appointment as Principal was a Godsend when Wesley was in a 30 year spiral of decline and when everything we held dear about the school had evaporated. I never thought Wesley could be revived in my lifetime. Shanti had the wisdom, courage and the audacity to bring about change. It just couldn't have been possible being Mr. Nice Guy. Effective leadership, good housekeeping and excellent financial management have been the key to his success.  Shanti has done a marvellous job. No one else could have done this in such a short time despite relentless pressure from within and without. The interference was most divisive and destructive. It merely diverted the resources and the energy away from where it was needed most. There have been allegations of intimidation and infiltration by a handful of teachers and Old Boys. These actions did nothing to deviate Dr McLelland from his resolve to help the school. We cannot have anyone undermining the Principal's authority.

Now is not the time for recrimination but for reconciliation for the greater good of Wesley College. It must be remembered that without the help of Old Boys Wesley would not have survived the strictures placed on it by successive governments. The Old Boys Union has been a tremendous help to the school since its very inception. The worldwide brotherhood of Wesleyites is an inseparable and integral part of the School. The school song and the school crest are a part of every Wesleyite since schooldays. We wear the Crest with pride and sing the song at every occasion when we gather together. That is the loyalty and strength of feeling for Wesley we all have and cherish.

I remember Shanti at school in the 1950’s, very much junior to myself.  Even in those days he was a tough, tenacious ‘warrior’. He was brash an energetic and diverted his energy to Hockey and Athletics with great distinction representing the school. His mother was a teacher at school and they had strong connections with Wesley since its very early days being a close relative of HJVI Ekanayake, the composer of the lyrics of our school song.  These strong connections affirmed his attachment to Wesley and he was motivated by a sense of duty.  After leaving school Shanti worked as a journalist before emigrating to Toronto with his parents to continue his studies.  He was ever passionate about Wesley and remained a prolific writer to the Double Blue International website to which he penned his memories of his beloved school. I am grateful for his support.

When Dr. McLelland took over, the school buildings were in a sorry state with broken windows, paint peeling off walls and leaking roofs. The classrooms and its furniture were in total disrepair and dilapidation. The worst was the boarding which was uninhabitable. It had holes in the floorboards large enough for a leg to go through. Now the buildings and furniture look pristine and the boarding and its dormitories have been restored to its former glory.  The school premises look clean and tidy and the gardens are in bloom again

There had been a gradual but significant and unacceptable decline in our academic and sporting achievements since the mid 20th Century. Our standing as a school belonging to the “Ivy League” was being questioned by the public and Old Boys. In 2014 our academic results and sporting achievements have improved tremendously and is comparable to that of Royal, Trinity and St Thomas’.  Beating Royal at cricket and winning against Trinity at Rugby are victories to savour.  Those who have attended the many functions at Wesley College will appreciate the Music of the Bands, the Choir and also the high standard of Drama and the Arts at school.  Tremendous strides have been made to improve the teaching and training of students in Information Technology. All this could not have come about without the hard work of students and teachers ably lead by Dr. McLelland. We appreciate his labour and total commitment.

As Principal of Wesley I met up with Dr McLelland several times both in London and in Colombo. At the dinners with the OBU-UK there have always been lively discussions and he as always showed a steely resolve to do what was best for the school. His cool deliberation was a joy to witness. We met last at the Grand Reunion in Colombo in September 2012 when he carried out his duties to support the event with great dignity. He conveyed to us his passion to improve the status of the school. We saw for ourselves how much has been achieved.

One of his greatest triumphs was to sort out the financial mess at school and put into place proper accounting procedures. Being a man of painstaking probity he dealt admirably with the corrupt practices, improper deals and moral evasions so common in that environment.

Not many believed we could collect the funds to build a new Swimming Pool. Good account keeping, generous donations from Old Boys and well wishers provided the funds.  That enthusiasm from the top was vital to catalyse other potential funders, especially big business and private philanthropists, who were enticed to step in and fill the gap.  Although the Pool took away valuable space he made certain the school grounds retained its character as far as possible despite the pressures of modernisation. Dr. McLelland conveyed a genuine, brimming sense of enthusiasm for the project.  The whole process was managed by the Principal with a handful of trusted friends of the school. We appreciate his passion, zeal and expertise.

Being a Principal of any school is a high pressure job. It helped that he was a workaholic. Dr McLelland ploughed his considerable energy into the management of the school. His daily routine of long working hours and total commitment will be a hard act to follow.

It is hard to please all those who love Wesley - all the time. Be it a friend or foe he was always ready to engage in lively debate. He did not seek controversy but, when it found him, he was not afraid to confront it. He was at his best when up against it. His ability to speak fluently and persuasively without any fear on important topics stood him in good stead.  Although normally more subtle in expressing his opinion his occasional robust and direct manner was not to everyone's liking. His reluctance to use euphemistic language is a culture alien to the Sri Lankan psyche and temperament. There are also bonuses to being bold - you do what has to be done. When disagreements surfaced he was unfailingly meticulous in his preparation of documents for his defence.  His clarity of thought and remarkable memory stood out.

The restrictive atmosphere formed by the Department of Education, Methodist Church, parents, teachers and old boys form a combustible volatile mixture. They have their own strong opinions, likes and dislikes. But it is the Principal who finally carries the can and that is where the buck stops. We are all human and have our failings.  Hubris is a flaw that runs in people who have been successful. We can ignore the rhetoric and consider the tangible results. Given the scale of the task he undertook we should consider the full picture and judge the Principal by his achievements during his full 5 year tenure. The turnaround has been comprehensive.

In the school's long and distinguished history there have been many upheavals.

  • The first was when the school was in Dam Street, Pettah. As Colombo expanded it engulfed and smothered the school and it fell upon Rev Henry Highfield to beg and borrow to build a new school.
  • The second was during World War II when the school had to be evacuated to Kittyakkara with tremendous hardships to students and teachers. This time it was Rev James Cartman who successfully managed the situation and returned Wesley to its former glory.
  • The third was immediately after Independence from British Rule in the 1950's when a wave of ultranationalism swept across the country. The government stopped the State Grant to Missionary Schools. Mr. Cedric Oorloff and Mr PH Nonis steered the school through those difficult times.
  • The fourth was the 30 year decline due to poor management and leadership when Dr McLelland stepped in to revive Wesley. We regard Rev. Henry Highfield as the 'pater familias' of Wesley College. If he was alive today he would pat Dr.McLelland on his broad shoulders to say " well done my good and loyal student". I would personally consider Dr McLelland as one of the finest Principals we have had knowing the unselfish personal sacrifice and the risks he had taken to manage the school. His successful tenure is comparable to what was achieved by our great Principals - Rev Cartman, Mr CJ Oorlof and Mr. PH Nonis. Meanwhile Rev Henry Highfield will always remain as the Titan amongst our former Principals.

Dr. McLelland is a Christian with a deeply held faith and supported religious activities at school. When the topic came up he reminded parents, teachers and students that this was a Christian School belonging to the Methodist Church. At the same time, he was keen to distance himself from intolerance of any kind. He believed fervently in religious, ethnic and cultural integration.

He is regarded with great affection by parents, teachers and students past and present. To him, education was his sacred mission thrust upon him by circumstance, rather than a career. He embraced the challenge with both arms. In recognition of his achievements the Old Boys Union, Old Wesleyites Sports Club and Welfare Society joined hands to say Farewell to Dr.Shanti McLelland and his wife Sriani  with a Dinner held on the 7th of April in the Principal’s Lawn.

On a personal level I have no words in my vocabulary inclusive enough to express my heartfelt thanks to Shanti and Sriani McLelland.  They left a comfortable life in Toronto, Canada to revive a failing school. All through those 5 years as Principal his loyalty and diligence shone through. Dr Mclelland is a consummate professional. Let us be under no illusion, he enjoyed his work and his prestigious position at Wesley enormously. He can now look back on his Principalship with pride and the mischievousness and nonsense in Karlsruhe Hill with a shrug and a twinkle in his eye. It is now mission accomplished and I hope they both will take comfort from the task well done as they return home to Canada.

To many he will remain a legend and an inspiration.

Let us now hope Wesley can navigate the treacherous seas ahead amidst the man made hurricanes and tornadoes and the friendly fire.

This is a difficult time for the school, students and staff. I hope the Old Boys and OBU's worldwide will give their support, fully, to the new management. May God Bless Wesley College and help it to survive the rigours ahead.

Long live our beloved School.

Whither bound Wesley College - Post Dr. McLelland?

By Senthil Sinniah

20th April 2014

Like many old boys, within the Wesley College Fraternity  I often wonder what the future holds for our beloved school. Will Wesley College continue to march forwards to remain in the “Ivy League” of schools or will it return to the bad old ways. Can we build on the wonderful legacy left behind by Dr. McLlelland?

Dr. McLlelland was much junior to me at school in the 1950’s. When his appointment was confirmed, I recall speaking with a former Principal the late Dr Lou Adhihetty  I asked him if he knew Shanthi. Dr. Adihetty promptly replied "Yes, I do remember him” and said “Shanthi is a fighter. He will never take a step back and will never give in to anyone. Maybe, Wesley needs someone with these qualities."  Events have proved him right.  These prophetic words by Dr Lou Adhihetty will remain in our thoughts for many years to come.

When Dr. McLlelland assumed office the school was in a state of deep decline.  It was made worse, by a small group of old boys and teachers in Colombo who opposed  Dr. McLlelland. They did this at every turn most unfairly. This opposition was based on inuendo, rumour and false allegations. Throughout, his tenure, Dr. McLlelland had to deal with this ‘enemy within.’  Divine providence gave him the strength and resolve to overcome this opposition.  He turned around the fortunes of our great school by his hard work, diligence, courage and sound leadership.

Dr. McLelland transformed the school during his tenure as Principal. He had the help and assistance of the Wesley College Community who supported him throughout his term of office.

To enumerate some of the improvements and achievements:--

  • A modern swimming pool---a languishing dream---has become a reality.
  • The Hostel Dining Hall has been elegantly renovated and redecorated.
  • The Hostel and the dormitories have been renovated  and refurbished.
  • State-of-the-art washrooms have been installed to replace the old toilets which were a disgrace.
  • The Cartman Library has been refined and remodelled for the 21st Century
  • Three Computer Labs.---with over 50 networked computers have been installed.
  • Wesley's academic standards reached a new high in 2013, with outstanding 'O' and 'A' level results.

What of the future and where do we go from here?

All responsible Old Boys, should support the interim Principal---Rev. Ebenezer Joseph. It is imperative the support extends to the new Principal, Mr. Ben Manickam, when he takes control in September, 2014. They both, must be given a chance to prove themselves and this takes time.

  • Old Boys and the OBU should not undermine the Principals authority. The Principal should be allowed to manage the school independently without meddlesome interference.
  • The OBU should be an independent body with no remit to manage the activities of the school.
  • President of the OBU Colombo and the Principal should decide when they should meet to discuss issues pertaining to the school.
  • The Financial management of the school should lie with the Principal who is answerable to the Methodist Synod
  • All extra curricular activities of the school should be under the total control of the Principal.
  • All support staff should be directly employed by the Principal and no one else.
  • The Principal must have a greater say in the appointment of Teaching Staff
  • The Methodist Church should support the Principal at all times.
  • Never again must any Principal have to put up with what Dr. McLlelland had to face-culminating in a Court case .  It was a thoughtless act by two individuals. One of the accusations was that the Principal’s CV was incorrect. Surely, this should have been challenged in 2009 at the time of his appointment rather than when he was ready to leave in 2013. We expect Old Wesleyites to behave with more decorum and dignity.
  • The Buck stops with the Principal and he is answerable to the Department of Education, the Public at large and the Parents. Hence he should be allowed to lead without harassment.

Fare thee well, Shanthi, you have turned round a failing school, which in itself is a marvellous achievement. Wesley College is now setting the standards, for other schools to follow. Every great Principal has a good lady beside him . Thank you, Sriani, for the sacrifices you have made, on behalf of Shanthi and your family. May you both enjoy a happy and healthy retirement back in Toronto.

A six year old student handed a card to Dr. McLlelland (at his bungalow) ----prior to his departure. The card read --- " A DREAM CAME TRUE."       

"We all had a dream, you made it a reality!  Congratulations and "THANK YOU." ---- and so say I.

Links to further reading

Rev Ebenezer Joseph's visit to Sydney, Australia by Nizar Sappideen

Inserted 14th May 2015

Photo L to R: Mrs. Surathi Sappideen(Nizar's wife), Mrs. Joseph, Nizar, Rev. Joseph's daughter, Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, Rev. Joseph's son and John Buultjens.

Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, who was acting Principal of Wesley from April 2014 up to end March 2015, visited Sydney on a speaking engagement on reconciliation in Sri Lanka. He had a very tight schedule, but I was able to coax him to meet a few members of the Wesley OBA Committee in NSW, to discuss matters relating to Wesley. On Sunday, 26th April 2015, we caught up with him and his family. We had lunch at a restaurant and was able to obtain first hand information on matters relating to College. Rev. Ebenezer was very frank with his answers. He was a bit disappointed that Ben Manickam had not taken up the position of Principal as yet. The past year Rev. Ebenezer, was under immense pressure to devote his time to the Methodist Church and Wesley. This he said, was a difficult task.

An year has passed and now the board of control at Wesley have advertised the position of Principal. What a waste of time!! During the transition period since Shanti left, Rev. Ebenezer was able to enlist the support of the Old Boys to establish systems in place so that the incoming permanent Principal will have a smooth run. Wesley and the past pupils are grateful to him for his contribution. I attach a photo for your website.

Mr. Ben Manickam - Principal 2015-2016

Mr Manickam has assumed duties as the Principal of Wesley College. He was inducted to his new post by the President of the Methodist Church & the Manager of Wesley College, Rev. Asiri Perera. The ceremony took place at the College Hall. He is a distinguished old boy of the school. On behalf of the Worldwide brotherhood of Wesleyites I wish Mr Manickam a long and rewarding stay at Wesley College.

Ben Manickam was recently inducted by the Most Revd. Asiri Perera, President of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka and Manager of the School as the 22nd Principal of Wesley College Colombo in a solemn ceremony in the College Hall, in the presence of dignitaries from the Methodist Church, old and present boys, parents, teachers and well-wishers. A second generation Wesleyite, Manickam, joins a long line of celebrated principals from Rev. Samuel. Wilkin in 1874 to charter the destiny of his Alma Mater to greater heights.

Speaking on the occasion Manickam said, “It is truly an honor, a privilege and a humbling experience that the custodianship of Wesley has been entrusted to me. On this momentous and historic occasion both in the history of Wesley and in my personal life, I am aware of the sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. It is my vision to build on the work done by those who have gone before us and to enable Wesley to reach new heights and attain her God given potential”. Outlining his road map for his Alma Mater the new Principal added, “For Wesley to reach her fullest potential, three aspects need to be in place – Synergy, Stewardship and Renewed Passion.

Expanding on Synergy, Manickam noted that individuals of the Wesley community must come together in a spirit of synergy to create a whole which is far greater and far superior than the sum of their individual efforts. Quoting world-renowned violinist Yitzak Pearlman’s famous line “it is my duty to make music with what remains”, Manickam went on to explain that Stewardship was all about making the best use of what was available. “At Wesley we may not have all what we desire as yet. But stewardship is about optimising what we possess at present. The new Principal also called upon the Wesley community to serve with “Renewed Passion. He commented that in an organisation as vast and complex as Wesley, it is quite possible to harbour hurts and misunderstandings due to mis-aligned or unmet expectations. Drawing on Norman Cousin’s famous quote “the greatest tragedy of our lives is not death, but what we allow to die within us while we yet live”, the new Principal urged the Wesley community to lay the past behind, rekindle our spirits and serve Wesley with renewed passion.

A former Principal of the Lanka Bible College and Seminary, Peradeniya for over 20 years, Ben Manickam comes to Wesley with a proven track record of initiating and sustaining organisational growth and development. Manickam was also Director of the Centre for Graduate Studies and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya for the MBA and MSc Programs.

Mr. A.S Wirasinha - Principal 1962-1983

Arthur Shelton Wirasinha (1923 - 1985)

Kindly sent to me by Murad Fahmy

Mr. Arthur Shelton Wirasinha B.A. (Lond.) MA (Ed), Cert. Ed. (B'ham), was born in the Kumbalwella Viilage on 24th November 1923. He joined Richmond in 1927 and finished his schooling in 1941 having won the coveted Darell Medal which is the highest academic award for a student at Richmond. He then entered the University of Ceylon in 1942 and did his BA and passed out with an upper second class honours.

Mr. Wirasinha was a chorister, a debator, a dramatist, a scout, an athlete, a musician, a cricketer and a scholar. His ambition was to be a teacher and his first teaching assignment was at St. Anthony's School, Rakwana. Whilst at Rakwana he contracted Malaria and had to leave for health reasons. He then taught at St. Peter's College, Bambalapitiya for a short period. In 1947 Mr. E. R. de Silva the incumbent Principal of Richmond hand picked Mr. Wirasinha as the Vice Principal. Coming back to his alma mater as her Vice Principal was something Mr. Wirasinha relished.

Mr. Wirasinha won a scholarship in 1952 and proceeded to the Birmingham University to do his MA (Ed) and won the George Cadbury Prize for the Best Student of the Year and the postgraduate Diploma in Educational Administration. Having completed his postgraduate studies he returned to Richmond in 1954 and continued to serve as her Vice Principal until 1957, when on retirement of Mr. E. R. de Silva the Mission elevated him to the position of Principal. He served in this capacity until 1961 and left the College after the take over of schools by the government and was appointed the principal of Wesley College, Colombo. Mr. Wirasinha married Gladys Manel Duniwila (? - 2007) of Kandy, an accomplished pianist in her own right and had a daughter Dushi.

Arthur Shelton Wirasinha passed away on the 13th November 1985. A tribute paid to him by the late Kenneth de Lanerolle, who was principal in 1984 is worth recalling...."This man of such vitality, such wit, charm and compassion has gone, leaving a void in many places where he was needed and loved. He was committed to Truth, Beauty and Goodness..."

A Message from the Principal - Mr.Avanka Fernando
8th December 2019
To the Old Boys' Union of Wesley College - World wide!

Dear Friends,

Greetings from your Alma-Mater!

I have great pleasure in being touch with you through this e-mail which will give you an overall view of the College, at a glance.

The place where you were moulded into what you are today, still stands forth, equipping many generations who have been placed in its care. The sole expectation of the College is that these young men who are still passing through the corridors of Wesley College will one day become matured men who would be great leaders and serve the society in a significant manner while being embedded with rich values.

Wesley has been continuously striving towards providing quality education to its students, and has taken all possible initiatives to achieve this goal. Being in line with the vision of the College which is ‘To be the premier Christian secondary educational institute and to provide men of stature and integrity to be leaders in the technologically advancing environment.’, and realizing the overwhelming power of the virtual world which is moving towards computer generated sphere, we envisaged a plan on providing an excellent foundation in IT so that it’s students become more independent and all set to face the competitive world.

In our journey of producing young men of calibre, Wesley College has leaped great heights by the grace of God and the genuine concern and partnership of few of the Old Boys Unions who have voluntarily extended their support whenever a need arose.

As an initial step of our journey towards equipping the Wesley Community (both teachers and students), Smart boards / Interactive boards were introduced to a few classes. On realizing the level of enthusiasm of the children and the interest of the academic staff, we felt the need to install a Smart Board in each class. At present more than 30 of our classrooms are equipped with Smart Boards including the Senior Computer lab, Resource rooms, Conference room and all the A/L Science classes.

Our deepest gratitude goes out to the OBU in Sri Lanka, UK, Qatar, the various batches and individuals, for partnering with us in this project. We are certain that this initiative would provide students with an enriched learning experience by projecting visual elements.

Another significant phase of partnership was when the OBU decided to organize the ‘Double Blue Classics’ – an evening of Music with renowned artists, in order to raise funds for the Smart Board Project.

Among the innumerable support we have received and continue to receive from the OBU, I wish to highlight a few which include the wooden furniture project. The old furniture which was being used for many years have now been replaced with new furniture. At present both the A/L and O/L sections have been fully furnished, and steps are taken to furnish the classes in the Grade 8 & 9 section & also one classroom each from the Primary Schools at both Havelock Town & Tampola.

The need for a proper reading / resource room for our Primary School at Havelock Town has been existing for quite some time. With nearly 800 number of primary students who have been entrusted to our care to provide an appropriate environment which is conducive to learning, giving them the facility to learn and grow is purely ours. My gratitude to the President of the OBU Sri Lanka and many other Old boys who went the extra mile to contribute books and other materials towards the Reading / Resource room which has a new look with books to read and bean bags to relax while reading.

Another step in the sphere of development was the refurbishing / renovation of the Chemistry Lab. Once again it is the faithful old boys who came up and extended their voluntary support to make this a reality.

The next phase was the Sick Room project. With nearly 2,100 boys in Borella, a sick room was a ‘most needed’ part in the College. It was a delight to see so many faces walking into the College with donations of beds, other equipment / furniture & medicine. At times though I was not present in College they ensured that everything was put in its place and that the room was in a proper condition with a nurse to assist.

Development has no borders when it is commenced and I am able to witness it at my own Alma-Mater. It was just the walls which were to be painted and some patch up work to be done but at present the entire College has taken on a new look with fences separating the paths, direction boards, and the stone embedded front wall which are admired and appreciated by our own old boys and the parents as well. It must be mentioned that this was done simply by an individual but with the immense support we received from the Old Boys by means of donations and ideas. Our gratitude to the ones who have assisted the College in their own areas of expertise such as the support we received from dialog for sending instant SMS, the LED Television, Career guidance and including Internet related assistance.

Cement and wooden seats have been placed at several areas giving the children to enjoy an open classroom – of course when the weather is perfect.

A Green House has been put up at both Borella and Havelock Town, as an initiative of the Science Union, giving an atmosphere to learn while observing.

Washrooms at the Havelock town Primary school have been totally renovated with new fittings the students were allowed to use them this term.

Wesley College not only develops its own facilities but rather, goes out to assist the other less privileged, in our own capacity. Once again the Old boys have reached out and set an exemplary example in being blessed by giving. The Hiniduma Thavalama School was assisted with some new agricultural equipment, books and stationery items after their school was affected by the heavy floods, Tables and chairs items which were in good condition, Exercise and stationery items have been given out to some schools, assisted the Prison Fellowship with a donation of exercise books and some gift packs for about 150 deserving children. Recently the Sinhala Literary Union decided to celebrate the children’s day with a difference and invited the students from the Duluwita Primary School in Mathugama, to spend their day at Wesley. The students who had very less access to a Colombo school, were brought to Wesley by the College Bus and were taken on a tour around the city of Colombo after which they had a fellowship lunch at Wesley. The kids were given gifts of Books, School bags and stationery items and in addition the OBU in Colombo donated a Computer to this well deserving school.

In our journey of completing 150 years (in a few years’ time), we will not only be focusing on developing our facilities but will also extend a helping hand to the deserving community in our own capacity, and thereby create an awareness and among the society, while teaching our children values that will last lifelong. We are confident that the OBU will stand by us in this endeavour too.

I attach herewith the Sports report which was released at the Colours nite, with a summary of the activities held in the recent past.

Future Plans

Our plans for the future of the College are clear and simple. We hope to focus more on Education. This would also include the development of Academic staff, and draw a strong structure in our education system with the necessary changes that are required the most.

Upgrading of facilities and renovation will continue since each step will be taken gradually and steadily.

Expansion in the areas of Sports and other extra - curricular activities and even on the variety of subjects.


I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to the members of the OBU, for their depth of understanding on the need to integrate technology into the educational system at Wesley and their initiative to raise funds and support their Alma Mater so that the College may provide the students and IT enriched learning experience.

Apart from the introduction to the Information Technology, the college also hopes to develop the spheres of Culture, Education, Infrastructure, Sports, Development of Academic Staff & projects, in the years to come.

As the College strives to achieve the goals which have been set forth, I wish to call upon the Old Boys' Union around the globe to extend their support in whatever possible way towards the development of our College.

Best Regards
Avanka Fernando
Wesley College
Colombo 9

A Principal Photographer - Mr.Avanka Fernando
From the Sunday Times of 29th January 2023 - By Shannon Salgadoe
29th January 2023

It is always a nice feeling to hear of a Sri Lankan whose achievements bring recognition to the country. In this case it is the principal of Wesley College, Colombo. Avanka Fernando, who in addition to steering one of the country’s oldest boys’ schools is a wildlife photographer, who, in the past two years has received international recognition for his work.

Avanka became interested in photography during his volunteer days with the Ceylon Bible Society and soon developed a passion for it. A nature lover since his younger days, he credits his uncle as being instrumental in nurturing his interest in wildlife and wildlife photography as he usually took Avanka along on his trips to the country’s national parks.

An old boy of Wesley College, Avanka started his career as an educationist following the completion of his Master’s Degree and in 2016, at the young age of 29, took over as principal of his alma mater. He is supportive of his charges developing a passion for photography and gives some of his time and expertise to the school’s photography club on their field visits to places like the Sinharaja rainforest.

It is not just the students who have the opportunity to develop their skills, but also the staff, who have their own photography club. While the school has had a few competitions so far, next year’s looks to be the biggest as it is in commemoration of a significant milestone for the school – Wesley’s landmark anniversary of 150 years. The competition being planned will give all students and teachers the opportunity to take part.

His passion is not easy to balance with his heavy work responsibilities but he tries to visit the national parks and wetlands whenever time permits, sometimes leaving home as early as 3 a.m. to get to Yala or Wilpattu, travelling back later that same day. If time is tight, he visits areas in Colombo such as the Beddagana and Diyasaru wetland parks to photograph one of his favourite subjects – birds. Sri Lanka, he says, is a trove of hidden treasure that is not valued or managed properly. “It’s a hidden treasure, especially when it comes to wildlife.

Unfortunately, many Sri Lankans don’t know it and even our leaders don’t value it. Ours is probably the only country where you can see a whale, an elephant, and a leopard on the same day.”

While sighting a leopard is at the top of every amateur or professional photographer’s list, he says most other animals go unphotographed due to the sole focus being placed on leopards.

A tip he has picked up over the years is to avoid the national parks on weekends because of the throng of local and foreign tourists who all have the same idea. He goes only on weekdays and has sometimes been fortunate to be the only person in the park as was the case back in February 2022 visiting Mannar on a Monday. Waiting for two and a half hours, I was the only photographer. I had about 5000 or more flamingoes right in front of me, about 50 metres away.”

The Nikon D7200 and D750 are his top choices when it comes to cameras with lenses also by the same brand. While not confining himself to any particular style, Avanka likes to the challenge of trying to get a unique perspective through the use of angles and framing. Black and white images give contrast and flavour he says and he is partial to macro photography because of the amount of detail captured which otherwise goes unnoticed by the naked eye.

Initially hesitant, he began sending in his work to different competitions during the long COVID lockdowns and in the past two years has had the gratifying response of receiving awards and commendations, notably winning third place in the Macro category in Wild Lens Magazine’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2022, and receiving commendations in the MonoVisions Black and White Photography Awards 2022, and most recently, the Monochrome Photography Awards last November. “Now, I really want to focus on high-end competitions. My dream is to one day see the name of our country appearing in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which is like the Oscars of wildlife photography,” he says.

From Avanka Fernando's website on photography

I’m a wildlife photographer born & based in Sri Lanka and spent my childhood in different parts of the country, due to my parents’ commitment. I had the privilege of living in different parts of the country until I was settled in my home town Katunayake. I started my nursery education in Kandy with grade one at Kingswood College Kandy, Sri Lanka and thereafter shifted to Wesley College Colombo, Sri Lanka, where I completed my entire school career. I completed my Bachelors’ Degree in Sciences and Completed my Master Degree in Education Leadership .

Nature is part of my life and I do love spending time with the nature. My photography career started in the year 2006 when I started capturing images of flowers from the Nikon digital camera for power point presentations which gave me the interest on nature photography. Thereafter, I started capturing images with a digital point shoot camera and later I bought a Fujifilm HX 30 Digital camera. My wildlife tours started in 2012 when I was taken to Yala National park by my uncle, Nirmal Fernando who was & is my biggest inspiration in Wildlife Photography. Thereafter, I continued to capture images on animals whenever time permitted. Later I started using my first Nikon DSLR camera, Nikon D3200 and later shifted to D7200 & D750 with Nikon. After buying my first telephoto zoom lens (Sigma 150-500mm), I shifted to Nikon gear with NIKKOR 500mm, 70-200mm, 105mm Macro & 16-35mm wide angle. I have been involved in wildlife photography for the past 9-10 years but I was able to invest more time and commitment from around 2016 onwards.

Over the past year, I was able to take part in many international competitions and was able to be among winners many times. Highlighting few,

1. 3rd place under Mammals category at the Wild lens Wildlife photographer of the year 2020

2. 3rd Place under Nature & Wildlife category at the Mono vision Black and white Photography awards 2021.

3. Honorable Mention under Nature & Wildlife at the Monochrome awards 2020

4. Highly commended at the International Fine Art Photography awards(FAPA) 2021

5. Honorable mention at the Vienna International Photo Award 2021

6. Honorable mention at the International photography awards (IPA) 2021

7. Many awards from international salons and circuits.

Capturing the beauty of flora and fauna in Sri Lanka is one of my favourite hobbies. Over the past years I was able to capture may species across the country such as Big cats, Mammals, birds and insects. Through this website, you will see the different aspects of Nature & Wildlife photography.

Enjoy photography and Experience the difference..!













Copyright © 2015 Dr Nihal D Amerasekera