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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sixty Not Out

The '59 Group

The years 2007-2008 usher in a great event in the lives of 246 young men, 33 of whom started their primary education, at the ages of 5 or 6 in Class 1C in the English Medium at Royal Primary School, in 1953, under the watchful eyes of Ms Croning. All of them, born in the years 1947-48, will be sliding swiftly into their sleazy sixties in the years 2007-2008.

Of the young band of 33 at RPS, in 1953, 8 moved on to greener pastures in Australia, the UK and other schools in Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, in 1959. Five of them, Wilhelm Koch, Jezley Hussain, Ramlal Gunewardene, Aubrey Willis, and Iqbal Najumudeen, have left us behind and moved on to the other side, where they say, the grass is greener and water so pure and the sun shines bright all day and night.

Those who moved overseas, in the early sixties, are Alwyn Anthonisz, Cedric Ernst, Dallas Grenier, Rodney Vanderwall, Allan Ebert, Brian Lieversz, Philip Stork (all to Australia) and Aubrey Willis (UK).

The remaining gang of 25 were joined by a band of another 221 mischievous rascals from the Sinhalese and Tamil medium Class at RPS, and also from a variety of other Primary Schools in Sri Lanka, having successfully gained admission to Royal College at the annual entrance examination held by the Ministry of Education, in 1959.

This Group is now referred to as the ’59 Group of old boys at Royal College.

Looking back over sixty years one reminisces some of the greatest events, people, achievements, and accolades that were enjoyed in the true spirit of Royal during those halcyon years from 1953 until the end of the secondary school phase in 1966.

Life’s gentle phase into the era of regular BP checks, fasting blood sugar, HDL & LDL cholesterol levels, ECG’s, EEG’s, eating greens, taking walks, exercise, and even prayer, has now begun, on a very serious note. Imagine 221 pot bellied ruffians walking hand in hand along Galle Face Green, on a warm summers evening, chattering away about old times? Many have given up brushing their hair in the steps of Yul Brynner, while others have chosen to rid themselves of that nuisance of a razor, for good, displaying grandiose pates and swiveling beards that would make a Mullah blush. Then there are those who enjoy driving their grandkids to school and back amidst the bustle and grime of the newly designed one way streets of Colombo.

Higher Education, Research, Professions, Business, Marriage, Children, Family, and even Grand Kids, in many cases, have overtaken their lives at such a pace that there is very little time left for frivolous pastimes and baudy songs, anymore. However, one may get a glimpse of some of the blokes shaking a leg in the Mustangs Tent at the Royal Thomian in March, or even at one of the Bradby legs in August.

Of those who came together at Royal College in Form 1, in 1959, the following have passed away to the other side. Major Nizam Jaimon, Rohan Perera, C J L Wijeratne, J Sachithananthan, P Chandrakanthan, Naveen Rajapakse, R Rajaratnam, and Sarath Ambepitiya. Sarath, who was a Judge of the High Court in Colombo was gunned down mercilessly by a raging gangster over a legal case involving drugs and the underworld.

Amongst the active participants of the ’59 Group, who have stayed in touch and close contact, meeting at various annual get-togethers regularly, since leaving school, are Nihal Canagasabey, Mazher Fazleali, Ajit Dias, Joy de Livera, Charitha Ratwatte, Fazli Sameer, Ranjan Madanayake, Edward Hapuarachchi, P Manchanayake, Sunil Wimaladharma, J Kudahety, S Skandakumar, Nanda Palihakkara, Upul Kulasinghe (Scotland), D R Pulleperuma, M B M Naizer, Roy de Silva, L C C de Silva, U C Jayasinghe, Lakshman Kiriella, Niki Kumarage (UK), M Subasinghe, Firoz Nilam (USA), Dr MJM Peroos (UK), Dr P N Gunaratne, Sharji Aziez, Akram Dawood, Gamini de Silva, and a few others.

Many are those who have left the shores of Sri Lanka to seek greener pastures in foreign lands while some have ventured out on higher studies, employment and business. Australia has seen a massive influx of the large number of Burgher’s within the Group since the late 1950’s.

Charitha Ratwatte and Lakshman Kiriella embarked into politics some years ago, with Charitha, who went on to do law at the University of Colombo, holding the prestigious position of Secretary to the Treasury in the last UNP Government. He has since opted out to concentrate on his job and family. Lakshman, originally with the PA Government has crossed over to the UNP, amongst the multitude of criss-crosses going on these days, and has become a very vociferous member of parliament in recent times.

Of the professionals who excelled in the medical fields are Professor Rizvi Sheriff in Sri Lanka, Dr Parakrama Chandrasome in USA, Dr Peroos in UK, Dr Devakumar, Dr S V Devendra, Dr L V K de Silva, Dr Chandrasekera, Dr Abeywardena, Dr Allan Ebert in Australia, Dr K A Gunawardena, Dr Jaffer, Dr DCP Karunaratne, Dr Ponnambalam, Dr L P Samaranayake, Dr S Sambandan in the UK, Dr M Satchithanandan in the UK, Dr Senerath Yapa, Dr Thambapillai, Dr Mousie Thurairatnam, Dr Tiruchelvam, Dr Velupillai. Dr Git Wickremasinghe is involved in cancer research related to Lukaemia the UK.

Of those who ventured into law, Dr Ratnapala is currently lecturing at a University in Australia. The tragic death, at the hands of a killer, of Judge Sarath Ambepitiya in Colombo is mourned by one and all Royalists and others. Others are S Sivasubramaniam, D S Piyasena, T K Gurusinghe, Lakshman Kiriella & Charitha Ratwatte.

Amongst the academics, DSDJ Abeysekera is currently working with an NGO as Professor of Sociology, while SJ Bahar, W Mallawaratchchi, and the late J Satchithananthan, are lecturers in Universities.

Those who ventured, seriously, into the IT profession and are still banging away at the bits and bytes, are Vipula Godamune now in Australia, LAK Waranasuiriya, and Fazli Sameer, presently employed in Saudi Arabia.

Some of the businessmen within the gang are M B M Naizar, Mazher Fazleali, Ajit Dias, Edward Hapuarachchi, Shibly Mohideen, and the late Iqbal Najumudeen.

Graham Koch, formerly attached to the Hilton Hotel in Colombo and the Intercontinental Hotels in Colombo, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sydney and China is presently Resident Manager of Hotel Sofitel of the Accor Group in Chongqing. China. He is one of those who joined the Grandpa club in recent times when his son was blessed with twins in Australia.

Many have ventured into Finance, Marketing and Business Management of whom the following names come to mind. Ajith Dias, Ranjan Madanayake, Nanda Palihakkara, SM Abeygunawardena, Nihal Abeysena, Sunil K Abeyasinghe, C Abeywockrema, Sunil Andradi, M Balakumaran, Bamunawela, Nihal Canagasabey, Akram Dawood, YKH de Silva, P Dias, KPG Fernando, NM Fernando, PSJ Gomes, SC Gooneratne, UC Jayasinghe, Jayantha Kudahetty, BSP Mendis, MBM Naizer, GSC Perera, Jeremy Perera, KAR Perera, PV Perera, the late Naveen D Rajapakse, MPV Ratnayake, Rohantha Samarajeewa, Kirthi Seneviratne, S Skandakumar, HPN Soysa, KM Totamune, Anthony Walpola, CJ Weerasuriya, DBJ Wickremaratne, Ravindra Wickramaratna, Sunil Wimaladharma, & MT Yaseen.

The other known members of the grandfather club within the Group are Shibly Mohideen, Fazli Sameer, Edward Hapuarachchi, S T Aziez, Mohamed Hassim aka Dathee, and the late Iqbal Najumudeen.

May the remaining members of the ‘59-Group be blessed with comfort, convenience, health, peace of mind, tranquility and prosperity for the rest of their time on the planet!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include Dr C.G. Weeramantry as Vice president of the World Court, Hague, Supreme Court Judge, Doctor of laws Monash University(Melbourne) and the honours he received recently, in SL and Sweden.
You can get in touch with him at his home, or Office at 5/1 Roland Towers, off Alfred House Avenue, Bambalapitiya, Tel No 2555028.
Nihal de Zoysa

1:01 PM  
Blogger citizen said...


4:52 PM  
Blogger RC59Group said...

Yes, he is.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Dallas Grenier worked at my school in Sydney in the early 1970s. Makes sense, as there wouldn't have been two blokes with the same name working in Sydney at the time and both from Sri Lanka (I believe Dallas used to describe himself as Ceylonese). The boys all liked him. We used to smoke in an area under the floor of the room he worked in, and I'm sure he knew ... but turned a blind eye, and on one occasion I know of, even provided an alibi to a boy who'd got into trouble. Interesting that I cam upon this post whilst looking for references to another Grenier ... an actor, but recognosed Dallas's name from decades back. Hope he's still around and doing well, and life's been kind to him.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hon. Palitha Manchanayake is also residing in Sydney Australia. Has memory that of an elephant.

5:36 PM  

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