Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

S S Perera

S.S. (Chandra) Perera an icon of Royal College
By Bernie Wijesekera - Sunday Times Nov 19 2006

On a somewhat chilly evening last week, I made a slow trek despite intermittent showers to meet S.S. Perera yet another icon of Royal College.

S.S. Perera, Better known as Chandra, to his friends, he now leads a quiet life with his wife at Clifford Avenue, in a fast changing environment. Unheard and unsung, the octogenarian spends much of his leisure time playing with his grand-daughter, Maydini. She keeps her Appachi alive. Watching Tv childrens programmes (cartoons) is a source of mental relaxation for Chandra. Perera has had a cherished history at Royal College.

His father, G.G. Perera, played cricket for Royal From 1908-12 excelling on and off the field. Endowed with a rich cultural heritage his maternal aunt (Loku amma) married Simon Hewavitarne, brother of legendary Anagarika Dharmapala.When I stepped into his abode he was in the company of another diehard old Royalist.

Chandra still regularly attends Royal College Old Boys Union, meetings. One of its oldest members, he is also one of its most vociferous. His latest project is the Royal College Archives and its future. A proprietory-planter by profession, Chandra had an abiding interest in printed material, published records and statistics. His collections pertaining to the history of Royal College is probably unique, something that can only be treasured, not measured. No wonder the Stately school picked him to write and record the history of Royal College to coincide with the 150 years of Royal College.

Chandra joined Royal in 1932. He played a match or two for Royal in 1941, in a team studded with stars under O.W. Wambeck's captaincy. He jocularly recalls that year saying he was more often carrying the drinks than playing. In 1942, under Gamini Salgado, he was virtually a scorer. An early start to his life-long interest in keeping records.

His first love was cricket. Be it at Royal or for Sri Lanka, Chandra has earned world acclaim for his rare collection. A local Wisden, Chandra's services have been retained by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL),Universities and Clubs. He played cricket for Panadura SC and did much to uplift its image in its formative years. Later, as he began his planting career at Weligama, Chandra became Matara SC's representative for the BCCSL. He believes in that old adage "Humility at all levels". This, he says, is what was taught to him by his parents, and the then masters at Royal. "Discipline. No nonsense. No excuses", that's his credo, something on the wane today even at school level.

Q: What kind of school was Royal College during your time?
A: Royal College was a secular school open to all races and religions. It is so even today.

Q: Who were your contemporaries ?
A: Late Elmo St. De Bruin (who passed away in the West Indies). He played cricket at College. Later, he became cricket and athletics master-in-charge. Gamini Salgado. He's another well-known planter. He later coached Royal cricket.

Q: You have an amazing collection of books and records of the History of Royal College.
A: Yes. I continued the good work of my father. He had a fine memory.

Q: How long did it take you to write the History of Royal College 1835-1985?
A: 12 years. I am thankful to the Sri Lanka Archives, The Colombo Museum Library and the Library Services Board. The Royal College Union assisted me. It was not a money making book. I spent much of my time and energy to make it a reality. The book is dedicated to our pioneer principals, whose love and devotion laid the foundation to make Royal College what it is today.

Q: The Janashakthi Book of Sri Lanka cricket. That's another achievement of yours. It has gained World recognition.
A: To this I owe a debt of gratitude to the Old Thomians and Sri Lanka Cricket, and to Chandra Schaffter and his son Prakash..

Q; You took to politics as well?
A: Well, yes, I contested the Weligama seat in 1970, and got caught to a landslide.

Q: And your planting days from 1944-72.
A: In Hallala Estate, Weligama. I was the Chairman of the village committee for many years. It was aCommunist Party stronghold. We were never paid a salary unlike today.

Q: Who was your cricketing idol?
A: Sir Donald Bradman. Despite his exploits he still led a humble life, until his last breath. Among the Sri Lankan cricketers late Sargo S. Jayawickrema.

A proud product of Royal, Sargo, had a rural upbringing and showed simplicity at all levels has to be admired. His name has to be treasured, be it at Royal, SSC or Sri Lanka.


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