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, March 25, 2007

The best batch in the best school

One of the best batches of the best school!
Sunday Times Mar 25 2007:

Royal College is undisputably the best school in the island. All parents clamour to get their children into Royal, but not all of them are lucky enough. Everyone thinks of other public schools as second best. Royal and S. Thomas (Mt. Lavinia), are the most prestigious, like Eton and Harrow of England.

Royal was founded in 1855 by the then British colonial government, mainly for the education of the sons of the Britishers, under the principalship of Dr. Barcroft Boake, a product of Oxford University. Though the school was initially called the Colombo Academy, it came to be known later as Royal College. On the panels of the College Hall are the names of those who distinguished themselves in the field of intellect.

Also, in the College Hall hang the portraits of those who rendered yeoman service to our country. Some amongst them are C.A. Lorenz KC, the Acting Queen’s Advocate, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Acting Attorney General and his brother Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam of the Ceylon Civil Service, Dr. C.A. Hewavitharne and his sibling Anagarika Dharmapala. Of the politicians of recent times were two heads of state - Sir John Kotalawala and President J.R. Jayawardene, while H. Sri Nissanka Q.C., a well known criminal lawyer and one of the founders of the SLEP. Their portraits also adorn the Hall.

About 75 years ago, 96 boys entered Royal College. They came to be called the 49 Group. According to statistics, it is perhaps the best batch that Royal turned out in recent times. It is said that 32 of them became medical doctors, most of them consultants, while nine entered the legal profession, 2 of them becoming President’s Counsel, 2 others becoming Judges of the Supreme Court, three entered the Ceylon Civil Service and 18 became Engineers.

It is estimated that about 60% of this Group became professionals, but while in school, each one of them fought for the last place in class! But when they commenced their respective disciplines, they shone over the products of other schools.

Some surgeons of the 49 Group are, Ranjit de Silva – who captained Royal at cricket, Priya Samarasinghe, Geoff Vanden Driesen, Gamini Goonethilake and S.R. Ratnapala, whilst some of the well known physicians are, Henry Rajaratnam, J.B. Pieris, Gamini Jayakuru and Brendon Gooneratne, the latter distinguishing himself in Australia. His wife, Yasmin Gooneratne, a Professor of English in Australia, has several publications to her credit.

Another wife of a member of the 49 Group is Professor Lalitha Mendis, who reached the pinnacle of the medical profession. She was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and the Director of the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine. She is the wife of the late Dr. Lalith Mendis.

The other physicians are, Danilo de Kretser, Tissa Cooray (W.H.O.), N.T. de Silva (UK), H.S. Karunasekera (UK), Leslie Muthukuda (UK), Dan Perimpanayagam, Yasa Rajapakse (UK), Disampathy Subasinghe (UK), V. Dharmapalan (New Zealand), and the late R.S.B. Wickremasinge – who was the Director of the M.R.I.

Of those who took to Law, are two well-known President’s Counsel Jayantha Gunasekera (former Secretary of the Bar Association) and Chula de Silva. Two other lawyers S.W.B. Wadugodapitiya and P. Edussuriya ended up as Judges of the Supreme Court, whilst A. Balachandran worked in the U.N. T.K.N. Thilakan (District Judge) and Kumar Ponnambalam both died a few years ago. Alavi Mohamed, a Barrister also died recently, M.N.B. Peiris is a civil lawyer, in Colombo.

Harsha Wickremasinghe, D.G.P. Seneviratne and Dr. B.S. Wijeweera entered the prestigious Ceylon Civil Service.

Of the engineers that come to mind are Professor C.L.V. Jayathilake (a Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya), Dr Susantha Goonethilake, S.C. Amarasinghe (former GM of the Electricity Board), Dr Sri Bhavan Sri Skandarajah, H.S.B. Abeysundara (Chemical Engineer), L.H. Meegama, C. Ramachandran and Bandula Yatawara.

Perhaps the cleverest of them all was Chelvanayagam Vaseeharan, a Maths prodigy, who was to be appointed Professor of Mathematics.

In this class, were two leading businessmen, namely the Cambridge educated Upali Wijewardene of the Upali Group, and, Lal Jayasundera, Chairman of Hayleys. Ratna Sivaratnam headed another conglomerate – Aitken Spence, whilst K. Manikkavasagar was a Director of Glaxo. Arjuna Hulugalle and Upatissa Attygalle are successful businessmen.
V.H. Nanayakkara and P.H.J.S. Ariyapala both Bachelors of Science, joined the staff of Royal College.

There was one member of the 49 Group who distinguished himself as a clever investigator in the Police Force. If he had not joined the Police, surely he would have been on other side of the Law!

That was none other than Rahulu Silva. It is reported that he was charged in several cases of violence. In all these cases he was successfully defended gratis, by his classmate Jayantha Gunasekera, a well known criminal lawyer.

There is the very talented artist/architect Laki Senanayake, a partner of Geoffrey Bawa, whilst A.A. Wijetunga and K. Sivapragasam became Senior Assessors in the Inland Revenue Dept. K.L. Gooneratne is a talented architect.

Late Bimal Padameperuma functioned as Chairman Engineering Corp, and D.C. Wimalasena was Chairman, Petroleum Corp.

T.D.S.A. Dissanayake, a prolific writer, first served in the U.N. Later he was our Ambassador in Indonesia. There were two members of this Group to whom life was a ball! They were Aru Sellamuttu and Ranjit Kiriella. Nimalasiri Fonseka, a bright spark in school, lives the life of a squire in England.

Lionel Almeida and the late Tyrrel Muttiah took to planting, and were ruggerites. W.K.N. de Silva is a proprietary planter. Bobby Perera, was one time Director of Quickshaws. Mahinda Gunasekera who is permanently domiciled in Canada, does much for our country by countering false propaganda.

These classmates are a very close knit family, though half of them live overseas… The 49 Group, depleted as it is, gets together during the Royal-Thomian cricket encounter and the Bradby Shield. Sometimes they meet more often, to welcome members coming home from abroad, for some reason or another.

It is at such gatherings that they reminisce about their schooldays, some wild and some even wilder! Only the pleasantest memories remain, and old yarns are told and retold, with salt and pepper added too!

Masters then came to teach, in full suit (coat and tie, mind you), and some driving their own cars. They instilled in this impressionable group of youngsters all that Royal stood for; so much so that even today, they instinctively take the acceptable course of action in any matter.

The feeling of brotherly love is strong in the 49 Group. A few years ago, with great emotion and bonhomie the 50th anniversary of the Group was celebrated for 3 days in a luxury hotel in the South. Almost all the members (from here and abroad) attended this occasion. On the last night of this grand get-together, the College Song was sung lustily, with a tear in the eye. Apart from being top achievers in their respective disciplines, they had “Learnt of books and learnt of men and learnt to play the Game.” Here’s hoping that the 49 Group will meet for many more years, to reminisce and rejoice, over a meal that cheers!

By D.S.Sivapragasam, Canada.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mr DDR Nanayakkara passes away

Rohan Udugampola and Mr DDR Nanayakkara in Australia 22/11/2006

NANAYAKKARA - D.D.R. DON DHARMAPALA RAJAWASALA (Retired Deputy Principal of Royal College Colombo), darling husband of the late Dharma, dearly beloved father of Sanath, dearly beloved father-in-law of Maya, loving grandfather of Shanil & Khrista and Amil & Sharvana, loving great grandfather of Eilidh, expired in Sydney on 21.03.07. Funeral will be held today, (Saturday) 24.03.07 at Northern Suburb Cemetery, North Ryde, Sydney. 27, Macquarie Rd, Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia. DN Sat Mar 24 2007-03-24

Email notification from Australia received today, Tue Mar 24, 2007

From: A Samaraweera
Date: Mar 21, 2007

Death of Mr. D.D.R Nanayakkara

Mr D.D.R Nanayakkara passed away this evening ( 21March 2007) In Sydney. He underwent a heart by-pass operation last Tuesday and did not recover. Funeral arrangements have not been decided yet.
He lived with his only son Sanath (1957 Group at Royal) here in Australia .
Sanath's contact details are
Tel: 61-2-9402 7742
Mobile -61-0402 445 072
Address : 27, Macquarie Rd, Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia

Nalin Karunatilake
They gave their yesterdays for our tomorrows!
May he rest in Peace!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dr John Wilson

Dr. John Wilson's royal gesture
Richard Dwight Daily News Wed Mar 7 2007

CRICKET: As the open clear blue skies and bright sunny weather herald, yet another Royal - Thomian cricket encounter, young and old, staunch and true, together with those who departed after learning and, those who left without learning, will converge in large numbers along with many others, to witness the 'Battle of the Blues' and partake as well, in the festivities that centre around the event.

And so we step aside to nod in an acclamation, and congratulate these two leading colleges on this their remarkable unbroken partnership of 128 years. Organising a traditional match of this magnitude and nature is by no means easy.

On the contrary it could prove to be exacting, exciting and an exhausting ordeal. But if in the end you achieve a measure of success, that it could be both a rewarding as well as a satisfying experience.

The organisers responsible for these encounters through the years, must therefore be highly commended for their sincerity of purpose, loyalty and devotion, It is undoubtedly because of their untiring efforts that these encounters year in and year out remain to be a source of delight to many, and are eagerly looked forward to by one and all, and have now come to be regarded as an enjoyable social event in the calendar of Sri Lanka.
These encounters in their wake have produced men of great eminence, who in their time have made a tremendous impact on the life of this country; some even guiding the destinies of is as well.

Perhaps these men may have learnt a thing or two on the playing fields of Reid Avenue and Mount Lavinia.

Quite naturally therefore our minds these days will travel through the corridors of time, it will may be, pause for a while in a classroom, stray into the library and lab, amble about in the lobbies, compound and grounds and relive with nostalgic emotion those glorious days in school.
As for me, I would for the benefit of the young wish to recall to memory, the 'Golden Jubilee' match of 1929. I pick this match because of a significant incident which took place even before the game itself began. N. Kandiah was the captain of Royal for the 49th encounter in 1928, and in the fitness of things it was John Wilson's turn to captain Royal in 1929.

The year 1929 was an important one for both colleges since it was the half way mark to the 'Royal-Thomian Centenary'.

This being so Royal was keen on Kandiah continuing as skipper, confronted therefore with this embarrassingly delicate situation, it was left to the master-in-charge, L.V. Gooneratne to make Royal's intention known to Wilson.

Having patiently listened to his master, Wilson with a calm reassuring voice replied "Sir if it is for the sake of the school, I am even prepared to forego my place in the team, quite apart from captaining the side".

It was indeed a grand and noble gesture worthy of emulation. The result of this match pales into oblivion in the light of this deed. For deeds such as this, in a sense, has life, to influence and inspire others to greater heights. Wilson's act was devoid of malice or rancour and it had to eventually in this course of time bear fruit.

It did so when in 1964, to the immense joy and satisfaction of Wilson, his son 'Shaw was appointed captain of the team. The late Dr. John R. Wilson, apart from being a cricketer, also boxed and played hockey for Royal. He was the eldest amongst four distinguished brothers, all of whom attended Royal College.

The late Rev. Dr. David K. Wilson, a clergyman was fine cricketer and athlete, who on one afternoon in the public schools meet broke 4 records. Dr. Daniel Wilson the only surviving brother was a quarter miler, and an orthopaedic surgeon, now very much retired in California.
Dr. Benjmin Wilson, the youngest an athlete and cricketer, practise medicine in the UK, until his death. All four Wilson brothers, true to their Biblical names, were devout christians to be men of virtue, given to sober, disciplined ways, with honesty and integrity as their watchwords.
Dr. John Wilson a name synonymous with Tuberculosis, did much to control and restrict the scourge of TB, which at one stage was threatening to get out of hand.

We did ask him some years ago to elaborate on his achievements in the field of medicine - Typical of the man he modestly said "Good wine needs no bush", that was plain and simple Dr. John Rasiah Wilson a proud product of Royal College. If there be at least one student, who on reading this, will strive to emulate such men, then this article would certainly have served its purpose.

"It is not for the sake of a ribbon coat nor for the selfish hope of a season's fame, but his captain's hand on his shoulder smote, play up, play up, and play the game."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

1947 Group Celebrate 60 at GFH

60th anniversary of the Royal College 1947 Group

It was such a privilege to witness a school class reunion last Saturday the 17th February 2007, in the gracious setting of the Palm Lounge at the Galle Face Hotel, when boys from the 1947 class at Royal College were welcomed back from near and afar, for their 60th Anniversary. A surprise bag of goodies with the 47 logo on it, welcomed all who graced the occasion.

The College colours - blue and gold - featured with festive balloons, pretty floral baskets, school banners of outstanding design and in the blue and gold spotlights, an ice sculpture of the number "47" (wow!!!). These and many other decorative touches were unmistakably a labour of love by the reunion Committee, their wives and some of the Hotel staff.

A wonder evening unfolded. Often with hands on hearts the old school boys became young again, with all the excitement of 11 and 12 year olds! Recollections of good friends, - dramatic, funny, sentimental and sad stories.

Heads together, as though the passage of time hadn't existed, with expressions of admiration for others, tales of masters and school boy mischief and memories of sports, the arts and sciences. Then pausing in silence, to mark the passing of 33 of their dear school friends, with invited relatives and widows in attendance. Monies were contributed generously to a Benevolent Fund for the needs of some of the less fortunate "Fortyseveners".

The "Fortyseveners" together with the two Guests of Honour dutifully lined up for the 60th Anniversary Group photograph and many cameras flashed throughout the evening.

Evening activities included the presentation of special individual Awards as well as commemorative awards to all in the Group, in the form of a beautifully crafted and engraved timepieces - may be to remind them of the next get-together!

All received a treasured Souvenir publication - an essential reference to pick up and pursue again and again, and on which a Souvenir 'draw' was conducted for three valuabel prizes. Ah, what fun with a "Guess the Guru" quiz! - Masterly portraiture (by another talented classmate) of a line up of old masters (Gurus!) with some pretty wild guesses and nicknames flying around the room.

This brought back memories of their beloved teachers who helped to make the boys what they are today. A spread of 32 items laid out for the Buffet Dinner was enjoyed by all present, after which the merriment continued, when fine voices lifted the school song into the evening air.

All were touched by this wonderful occasion, with good music throughout the night stirring the "47 Group" present with many old favourites. In particular the 'baila' drew all together in body and spirit.

It was momentous to think that all these Classmates were born around 1935, when Royal College was celebrating its Centenary (1835 - 1935). The College motto - "Disce aut Discede" (Learn or Depart) signified this very special reunion evening. Perhaps the "47 Group" motto in reply would be - "We did and came back"!! - Because of the great affection for their old school - Royal.

Dr. Merl de Silva and wife Anne Simpson from Tasmania.
Daily News Tue Mar 6 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This was Cricket!

When Channa Gunasekera recalled Chellaraj to the crease
Sunday Observer Mar 4 2007

CRICKET: The Royal-Thomian cricket match is usually a fiercely fought-out encounter with no quarter asked and none given. Both teams go into this encounter as if their whole life depends on the outcome of this match which has now gone in stature from the usually two-day game in the fifties to the three-day game now.

The 128th annual encounter will be played on March 8, 9 and 10 at the SSC grounds. However, though much prominence is attached to this game, sportsmanship of the highest order prevailed in this encounter long before any of the present day lot of cricketers were born.

The year was 1949 and the venue for the match was the then Colombo Oval, now re-named P. Saravavanamuttu Stadium.

Royal who won the toss on that Friday - March 18 to be exact, made rapid progress with their batsmen striking it rich and collecting runs in an easy manner against a not too hot S. Thomas' attack. Scoring over a run - a - minute, the Royalists mustered 242. As this was a two-day game, Royal's score was considered good. Gamini Goonesena top-scored with 58, T. Vairavanathan made 39, V. K. Gunasekera 28, S. D. N. Hapugalle 42, Capt. C. H. Gunasekera 24.
S. Thomas' had quite a formidable task on their shoulders when they went in to start their innings at 4.40 p.m. The Thomian wickets started to fall in rapid succession - the first went for 11 runs, the second at 41 and the third at 45. Skipper P. T. Shanti Kumar made 55, G. V. Tissera 30, C. Wignarajah 5 for 35 and Gamini Goonesene 3 for 64.

Thomian C. Chellaraj came to the wicket, but things didn't change dramatically for the Thomians as runs came slowly against a tight Royal attack. At 56, Thomian Chellaraj was run out - a correct decision given by the umpire and Chellaraj was walking towards the pavilion. However, Royal skipper C. H. Gunasekera thought otherwise and called him back, as Gunasekera felt that Chellaraj inadvertently bumped into a Royal fielder standing close to the wicket. P. T. Shanti Kumar made 55 and Chellaraj 4 and the pair added 81 for the fourth wicket in the first innings.
This was probably a historic occasion, the first of its kind at this level of cricket, but Gunasekera had no hesitation in his decision and though some of the Royal supporters stood aghast at the Royal skipper's decision, there was no change of mind. The gesture nearly cost Royal the match, but it was a fine show of sportsmanship.

After the early Thomian debacle in the first innings, the fourth wicket in the first innings fell on Saturday at 126 and the innings finally ended at 225.

'Games the Thing'

The Ceylon Observer of March 20th had an editorial on the incident, titled "The Game's the Thing". It went on to say" "The Royalist captain's gesture last Friday in calling a Thomian batsman back to the wicket after he had been run out on the umpire's ruling, was true to the best traditions of cricket. The captain had good reason to believe that the batsman had unfortunately been obstructed. The incident must have warmed the hearts of all sportsmen at the Oval that day and particularly the old boys of the two schools engaged in "Playing the game, and the game's the thing."

It mattered little if the batsman would have made good use of the second chance and piled on a score that would have blasted the hopes of a Royal victory.

It was not the runs gained or chances lost that counted - the spirit of sportsmanship and the honour of the school were the decisive factors.

Viewed on this platform, the Royalist captain's gesture was more eye-catching than a flawless century or some brilliant catches.

The late S. P. Foenander, writing under his pen-name "Onlooker" on the same incident said: "The incident at the Oval stressed the importance of cricket and all sports as a potent factor in the moral training of boys and men. There will be general agreement with this view."

After the Thomians made 225, thereby giving Royal a lead of 17 runs on the first innings. The Royalists made 101 in the second innings which left the Thomians to make 119 runs for victory in around 65 minutes. Schaffer took 6 for 27 in the second innings while Chellaraj tool 3 wickets in the first innings and second innings.

There was drama in the closing stages of the match. Gamini Goonasena who afterwards went on to play was Cambridge University, was the bowler called on by Royal to send down the last over.
S. Thomas' were 113 for 4 with six balls left and six runs to make. Tension ran high on the grounds, as the Thomians' chances of victory drew near.

Then came the last ball there were 4 runs needed, but thomian batsman Shanti Kumar could get only a single and Thomians had to be content with a draw as they finally made 116 for 4 wickets. K. C. Perera made 47 and Ronnie Weerakon 36 and the Thomians fell short of their target by 3 runs.

This was probably an action and tension-packed match played to the highest traditions of the game