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, September 30, 2007

Ajith Perera


We take this opportunity to write about on e of the bravest Royalist around – Ajith. C.S.Perera, Ajith, who had his entire primary & secondary education at Royal, completed his B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Colombo. He went on to specialize in all aspect of modern quality Assurance techniques & systems. He was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (London) and Institute of Chemistry (Ceylon) at the young age of 35.

Ajith had a second string to his bow and contributed towards Cricket, in particular the upliftment of the Umpiring fraternity. A former 1st class, international panel and senior Umpire, he counts over 17 years in active umpiring – in Sri Lanka & England.

To the best of our knowledge he is the only Royalist to date to have been selected to the panel of the test match umpires and the first & only Lankan to date (22.06.1996)

To gain the three achievements of full member Umpire, Full Score Member & Qualified Senior Training of the Association of the Cricket Umpires & Scorers England.

Unfortunately, fate dealt a cruel hand to ajith striking him down the prime of his youth, On the eve of his first International match at the R.Premadasa stadium the touring New Zealand team in November 1992, a huge tree crashed in to his moving car killing his driver and injuring Ajith’s spinal cord. Resulting from this, he remains paraplegic, with restricted life on a Wheel Chair.

But Ajith still smiles. Amidst all his woes. He tries his best for Sri Lankan Cricket. Good luck, Ajith & much Strength to your elbow!!!

Extracted information from ROYAL COLLEGE UNION – BULLETIN – JULY/AUGUST 1996

Lorensz Pereira


This article about one of our greatest all-round sportsman. Lorenz Pereira, is also by The Royal Scribe. We thank the prodigious Royal Scribe for his contribution. May the inspiration of the Muse and the hand of Warne keep guiding The Royal Scribe?

It was the mad month of march in 1958- this writer had graduated to college from RPS and was witnessing his first fully fledge Royal – Thomian at the wanathamulla Oval. Perfect LAR “Athula Perera” was the chief leader and was chanting “Come on Lollo”

And we joined in the chorus “Bowl him out” Yes, it was Royal Skipper E.L. Pereira bowling to thomian captain Mavis Pereir and Louise Tissera seated side-by-side and spurring their offspring impressing on one and all , the goodwill and camaraderie, which prevailed in the days of yore! Both Skippers compiled stylish half-centuries thus gratifying their fond Mamas!

Lorenz Pereira the eldest of three sons (Leg Spinner Brina and Roly poly Allen being the other two) sired by Old Royalist Prof. E.O.E Pereira, was the head Prefect at Royal having won colures at 4 sports – Cricket, tennis, Athletics and Rugger whilst captaining in the first two! Due to his excellent application to study and play he was nominated as the Dornhorst Scholar in 1959 – The Highest a student at Royal could aspire for. Even though not captaining School at Rugger, he went to on to captain Sri Lanka against All England & British Lion International sides, During an era where Rugger was dominated by Europeans in the country, ELP penetrated the very bastion of Europeanism – The CCC & CH & FC – to play and captain both teams at cricket & Ruggerand that too as the first Sri Lankan to do so! This ace sportmen who in 1959 was chosen as the ‘Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year” then moved to Cambridge University and while reading for his master Degree became a team-mate of two future England captains – Tony Lewis and Mike Brearely, A little bird tells me, that Lorenz considers the days at Cambridge as free and wild, where he was able to run riot imbibing every facet of a privileged life-style within a stimulating and glorious student environment!!!!

Since 20 years ELP who presently city planner with the Victorian Government, has been domiciled in Aussieland and considered as quite a “curry” expert with a penchant for Red Wine! With a passion and addiction for the game of tennis which Lorenz is engulfed with, it seems talent is flowing down within the family for niece Shalini Pereira is Sri Lanka’s No 1 Woman Seed at this moment of time (1995). As a City Planner in Victoria he as responsible in introducing the concept of a retractable roof for the now internationally acclaimed national Tennis centers in Victoria could Sri Lanka benefit in similar fashion?

Naturally Lorenz is proud of the enormous encouragement resource-wise and affection-wise, given by his Parents which have had the Biggest impact upon his life.

The school mates at Royal, with whom he had and endless summer, having fun and playing games, are considered as the dearest and most precious friends. This crack

Three-quarter and versatile playmaker at rugby of yester-year, has also two strong ambitions simmering within – to coach Royal at Rugby with concept developed up on the Australian rules of Football and Rugby league , which he feels will radically change

The way Rugby is played presently. His second ambition is to set a major Recreation Facility in Sri lanka.

A Classic product of Royal E.L. Pereira who excelled in Study and sports and who could possibibly be tagged as the “best All round Royalist of the Century” (did I hear someone call it an under statement?) has some very and dynamic advise for the young Royalists i.e.,

Acquire a keen interest in something which becomes a driving passion in your

Life and get out there and innovate and never give up due to initial


Floreat, Lorenz – Floreat!


Extracted from OLD ROYALIST’S UK NEWS LETTER Number 12 October 1995



Mr. L.D.H. Peiris , Director of Education, Nuwara Eliya, assumed duties as principal of Royal college August 1972. It was during his tenure of office that the College became a one session school and the Ordinary level Tamil Commerce stream and Advance level Agriculture and commerce Courses were introduce. He re-vitalized the P.T.A and with

Its help and that of the Royal College Union completely renovated and refurbished the Main Hall.

He also introduce the grade 6 admission test, expanded the Hostel considerably and introduced the teaching of modern languages such as French, German & Japanese and also Pali to the students of Grade 6 , 7 and 8 Implementing the amalgamation of the former Royal junior and Royal College in 1978, which brought the school population to over 7,000, was a Herculean task to which he easily proved equal. He was interested

In improving all aspects of school life and the examination results and victories in sports and games during his time are ample testimony to the success of his period of stewardship often referred to as Golden Age of Royal. He retired in December 1980 leaving behind an indelible hallmark as an educationist and administrator. He passed away in August 1995.

As tribute to a grate principal, A group of Old Royalist have endowed a new prize titled the L.D.H.Peiris Memorial prize to be awarded for general knowledge on Royal College and its history.

Mr. B. Suriarachchi

Mr. b. Suriarachchi served As Chief Education officer in the out station and then as principal Of Rahula College, Matara, and Richmond College, Galle, before assuming duties as principal of Royal college in January 1987. his tenure of office was a very successful one marked by innumerable victories in our manifold field of sports and

Games while our results at the G.C.E (O/L) and Advance Level examinations took a distinctly steep upward trend. Throughout his period as principal, he was most acceptable to entire school community extending to the Old Boys and parents despite

Being very firm when the need arose. It was manifestly clear that his first priority

Was the welfare of the College as a whole towards which he spared neither his efforts

And time nor even himself. He successfully weathered the storm of the insurrection with its attendant student unrest in the late 80’ and brought the College out of the doldrums to continue its progress to grater heights of all-round achievement. He will

Certainly be remembered with affection and respect by all who knew him as principal of Royal College from which post he retired in November 1994. he has now taken over as principal of Serendib international School in Colombo and Royal’s loss has become their gain.

D.S.WICREMASINGHE 1952-1995 – Sri Lank Air force Win Commander

Sidantha or D.S as he known to many died on sat April 29 in the course of duty serving in the Sri Lanka Air force. He was the younger brother of Hector (P.H), also a well known Royalist. Sidantha will be missed by all who knew him

Although a man outstanding ability in his career, on the sports field and in the class room, sidantha was above all able to relate warmly and genuinely to every body he met. The starting point was whatever common experience that he shared with the person he was never arrogant.

Sidanth joined College from Royal Primary school in 1963 and left in 1971. After he left Royal, Sidantha qualifed as an Aeronautical Engineer and joined the Sri Lanka Air Force where he rose to the Rank of Wing Commander.

Sidantha leaves behind his wife Anoma And his Children Dakshitha & Nadiska aged 12 & 14.


Leaving college in 1962, the youngest of the five sons of mathematics and Physics teacher, M. M. Kulasekeram Sahadevan qualified and worked in London as an accountant. At his last farewell on July 7, 1995 at Ruisilip Crematorium were gathered, besides his family and kinsfolk, friends, colleagues and Royalists.

They gave their lives for Sri Lanka

Commemoration of War Dead

The following committee was appointed to recognize the contribution made by old Royalist who have laid down their lives in the current conflict. (this committee appointed in 1996

Dr. Ranjith Attapattu – Chairman

Lt. Col Harin Malwatte – Convenor

Mr.Nihal Senevirathna

Mr.Tryphone Mirando

Maj. Gen C.H.Fernando

A commemoration ceremony attended by representative of the Armed Forces and the police and the next of kin of the deceased was held at the Navarangalhala on the 21st of May 1996.

The Royalist commemorated were:

SL ARMY Rank Name

Maj. General W.I.V.K.M.Wimalartne
Major W.D.M.FERNANDO (Milroy)
Major W.A.N.L.Jayathilake
Major W.A.N.L.Jayathilake
Major D.M.N.Rajapakse (OUR BATCH)
Major M.A.A.G.Mallawaarachchi
Major B.P.D.Wijesinghe
Major Gayan Ranasinghe
Lieut. H. Osman
Lieut. A.M.M.N.M.De Silva
Lieut. D.B.Jayasekera
Lieut. V.P.A.Senaratna


Lt. Cdr S.Gunasekera (KIA)

Lt Anura Nanayakkara
Lt. M.S.Senanayake (MIA)
Lt. H.A.J.H.Wijewardena (MIA) (our batch)


GP Capt. D.S.Wickramasinghe

GP Capt. S.N.B.Gunathilake
WG CDR Ian Fernando
WG CDR H.P.Karunarathna
WG CDR K.A.J.P.Kahadawala
WG CDR K.G.Perera
WG.CDR R.P.Kulathunga
Fly officer N.R.Fernando


ASP D.N.Gunasekera
IP Maduranga Perera

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Upul Kulasinghe

Kulasinghe inventions to the rescue of fuel crisis

By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune

Colombo, 25 September, ( Dr A N S Kulasinghe, a scientist par excellence who invented the Pre-stressed Concrete technology his name is also synonymous with alternate energy sources.Upul KulasingheUpul Kulasinghe

Unfortunately, Sri Lanka failed to optimize the great potential this intellectual had for the benefit of the country and he died recently as an unsung hero, as it happened to many other such intellectuals in this country which could be attributed to the political skullduggery.

Today there are only talkers, but no workers; specially in the political arena and in the case of oil crisis the politicians are there only to jack-up the prices when oil prices go up in the world market.

It all happened when the first great oil crisis occurred in the 1970s where unlike today, the government strived to take remedial measures and one such measure was to cut down the six day work schedule practiced in the country, to five days, in a bid to reduce that day’s traveling to conserve fuel.

Dr Kulasinghe determined to help the country in its hour of need to find alternate sources of energy, the ‘concrete man’ turned into a man trying to find alternate sources of energy. He tried on wood-gasification, experimented on using water and coconut oil as fuel on motor vehicles, Dendro power generation system and various other experiments, some of which have been practiced elsewhere in the world.

But very few or nobody took much notice of the valiant attempts of this single man. Meanwhile Dr Kulasinghe obtained worldwide patent for many of his inventions. Before his death, Dr Kulasinghe got his son Upul E Kulasinghe to pledge that Upul Kulasinghe would continue all the work initiated by his father.

Though the outside would has thought that Dr Kulasinghe was idle and dormant on his energy saving experiments and projects, father and son Kulasinghe duo has been for more than 20 years unobserved and silently, experimented on energy saving technology, and now the son is in possession of a unique technology FS 77 Fuel Saver, that is patented world over and extensive trials have now been made on the technology. Kulasingha's power generatorKulasingha's power generator

Meanwhile Kulasinghe is finalizing the agreements with the BOI to launch the project in Sri Lanka. As a prelude to the launch, trials are conducted on the roads in Colombo with vehicles fitted with the FS 77.

The FS 77 Fuel Saver, though sophisticated is a small unit fixed to the engine and instead of the fuel going straight to the engine for combustion, small quantities of fuel (either petrel or diesel) is released to the fuel saver unit and inside the unit the fuel is converted into gas and the gas would then go to the engine for combustion.

The FS 77 technology tested in the UK and has proved extremely successful and the UK Company which tested the versatility of FS 77 immediately approached Kulasinghe to buy the technology.

The test runs have proved that a maximum of 48 percent fuel saving could be obtained by fixing FS 77 and working on a minimum average of 35 percent fuel saving, at this moment of great fuel crisis the FS 77 would be considered as something coming from Heaven.

The most important feature of this FS 77 technology is that it could be used for any engine that works on internal combustion and a rough estimate of fuel saving for Sri Lanka per annum, if this technology is deployed would be around US $ 350 million. If this technology is picked up by other countries, Sri Lanka would be richer by that amount while fuel saving in the world would be immense.

Upul Kulasinghe had his studies at Royal College and moved to UK for his engineering degree and obtained his engineering degree from the Glasgow University. He also has obtained another engineering degree from the UK Open University.

He was to return to Sri Lanka in 1971 but due the escalation of insurrection he was advised to stay back in the UK for another few years. While in the UK Kulasinghe joined the National Engineering Laboratory in Scotland and moved to off-shore Oil industry in the UK until he returned to Sri Lanka in 1979.

Upul Kulasinghe said “Since 1981 my father and I were grappling with the FS 77 technology that we invented to take off the ground but we had to test, re-test experiment and to be successful through serious trial and error, it took more than 25 years”. He said “But the long and arduous journey to success is worthwhile and I am happy that I am able to release this technology first in my Motherland”.

He said that if this technology is picked up by the other parts of the world, it would be a ‘shot in the arm’ for the present oil crisis.

He said that the method is using ‘organic catalyst’ that obviously improves the performance of fuel and the efficiency saves fuel. The system not only saves 35 percent of fuel on any engine that uses FS 77, but also would be a great beneficiary to the environment as then all those vehicle which use FS 77 Fuel Saver, the emissions would be as of a gas engine, though the machines use fuel (petrel or diesel). Unlike LPG Gas converted vehicles, FS 77 Fuel Saver technology users need not carry a ‘bomb’ – the gas cylinder in the vehicle.

In fact Kulasinghe has fixed FS 77 into several vehicles and now they are running smoothly. He also runs a power plant fitted with FS 77 obtaining maximum fuel efficiency.

In the conversion process, a certain heat has to be maintained and to stabilize the head in the unit, certain electronics are inserted

The FS 77 Fuel Saver unit is very small and it could be easily fixed to motor vehicle engines and cost wise, the cost of installation of FS 77 would be similar to that of converting fuel vehicles to gas.

Some of the major projects that Dr Kulasinghe has started, almost finalized and obtained international patents, are to be implemented by Upul Kulasinghe, while of course the concrete and low cost housing business is being continued in their estate at Batagama, Ja-Ela.

Out of these projects, another very important and urgent project is on garbage, another favourite area of Dr Kulasinghe. Upul Kulasinghe is having a novel project to solve the garbage menace in his sleeves and immediately after his launch on FS 77 he would get on with his solution on garbage.

Sri Lanka has been enmeshed in disastrous political drudgery, which compelled to ignore most important economic and national issues. There are so many highly talented innovative minded Sri Lankan intellectuals, working in other parts of the world, but the situation of the country today, discourages them to come to Sri Lanka and work for their ‘Motherland’

Even with all these difficulties some of our own intellectuals and entrepreneurs have come to Sri Lanka and have started their own establishments. They are doing very well and some of these entrepreneurs have caused the imports on the products that they specialize to be stopped and also have started exporting.

Most of them who ventured to serve their ‘Motherland’ leaving lucrative position in abroad have complained that various state agencies have been the stumbling block in starting their enterprises. Some of them have pointedly indicated that there were instances of expecting bribes and commissions to allow permission to commence such enterprises.

Dr A N S Kulasinghe is a classic example of this bureaucratic lethargy, political bungling and the ignorance of the great contributions these innovative talents could make to the country. It is true that some of his findings and innovations took roots not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the world. But his talents and great innovations that have won many international accolades would have been put to use that would have benefited the country overall.

The country has to accept that Dr A N S Kulasinghe was not only a great scientist but also a great visionary as he was able to obtain a solemn pledge from his son Upul Kulasinghe to carry his flame throughout the country and throughout the world.

- Asian Tribune -


A Great Hero. Yes, there

A Great Hero.
Yes, there many more other "Yodhayas" throughout the World, prevented from operating in Sri Lanka due to two reasons:
1)Corrupt Beaurocracy
2)Worker with little initiative or innate incentive

The former will require an uncorrupt Government in power to clear.
Both will require grass roots level education and action by people. Who will do the latter? Certainly not the Beghoff foundation.

A Non Government Organisation operating from Sri Lanka is required to seek investors among expatriates to help enterpreneurs such as Dr. Kulasingha and the Micro corporation.

In addition to these think small (distributed) projects, think-big projects should be sponsored by the GOSL itself. An example would be utilising the parabolic mirror (solar) technology developed in the US (Arizona dessert) which is used to heat water to produce steam which drives turbines. There is plenty of sea water around Sri Lanka to establish such huge plants without causing Green House problems. In one stroke you would produce salt, fresh water and electricity. In addition electricity could be used to split water into Oxygen and Hydrogen (electrolysis) and to store them in liquified form. These could be used as rocket fuel and exported to India and Hydrogen may be used in Hydrogen Cars under development. Further GOSL should sponsor a subsidy scheme to bring the Australian solar panel technology to Sri Lanka and to encourage every roof to have a solar panel in order to contribute to households and the National Grid. The difficulty posed by advocates of Nuclear energy (and against solar and wind) is that Solar cannot operate at night. I seem to recall high school level knowledge about things called fly wheels which store energy intended for the electricity grid. Furthermore, partnership between Solar and wind would ensure round the clock energy supply.

If you are to pay some attention to that great old man Sir Arthur C Clarke then just south of Sri Lanka is an Ocean Chasm which provides a huge thermal differential representing the potential to produce energy.

hambanthota would be the ideal location to commence such think-big projects. Such projects require a great deal of investment but will reap great benefits when the oil runs out in ten years. They should be commenced hand in hand with innovations such Dr. Kulasinghe's so that Sri Lanka and the World can reap the benefits. Surely, expatriate investors would be willing to invest in a trustworthy "trust" which could help innovators as well as establish think-big industries?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bevill St. Elmo de Bruin

Mr. Bevill St. Elmo de Bruin, affectionately known as 'Mister Dibbs', was English and Mathematics master and also athletics and cricket coach at Royal College, Colombo for 18 years till 1960. He subsequently joined Cornwall College, Montego Bay, Jamaica in the West Indies where he taught for a further 35 years. Both Royal and Cornwall Colleges had the same school motto- 'disce aut discede'.

He passed away at the age of 79 years on 19 July 2003 in Montego Bay, and the Jamaican observer carried the following:" He gained Cornwall College exceptional examination results in mathematics. His influence at the institution exceeded the boundaries of mathematics classes, as for several years he coached cricket, athletics, table-tennis and rifle-shooting teams."

In 1999, Jamaica honoured him with the order of distinction for his outstanding contribution in the field of education. "He used to assist many students with lunch money, books, school fees and clothes", a teacher who worked with him in Cornwall College said. "Many of them took him as their father".

Dr. Brendon Guneratne writes: "Mr. De Bruin was one of the finest men I had met in my lifetime — so generous, soft spoken and cultured, unattached to material things, super teacher, athletics and cricket coach. erudite, well-read and extremely modest, he illuminated our lives and along with Prof. E. O. E. Pereira and Dr. D. B. Gunasekera, were the heroes of my school days at Royal.

"He was the human being I knew who was closest to being a saint. It was our very great fortune that we all met and knew a truly great man who walked this earth during our own lifetime."

SUNDAY ISLAND - Aug 10 2003

Thank you ‘Mr. Dibbs’ for your guidance

Thank you for the excellent story that appeared in the your on-line Observer of July 26 re the memorial service for the late Bevill de Bruin, veteran Cornwall College teacher.

As your very well-written article noted, Mr. de Bruin was like a father to many of his students. With tears in my eyes, I would like to disclose a personal example of Mr. de Bruin’s father-like acts to me, while I was a student in his Additional Mathematics (Add Math) class at CC. I was in the fifth form, a poor little country boy, riding the bus from Lottery to Montego Bay everyday, happily surviving on the money that my dear grandmother could afford to spend to send me to the venerable CC, aided by a full scholarship.

One day in class, Mr. de Bruin noticed that I was crying silently, trying not to make anyone see me crying. He took me aside and asked what was wrong and I told him that I had a terrible toothache. He asked me to see him after class and I did. ‘Mr. Dibbs’ gave me an envelope and a slip of paper with an address where I should go to see Dentist Begg in downtown MoBay. I discovered, on arriving at the dentist’s office, that the envelope contained the cash payment for the dentist to extract my aching tooth. It was the greatest relief from pain that I ever had, even up until now, and I want to take this opportunity to say: "Thank you, ‘Mr. Dibbs’."

Because of such care and compassion from Mr. Dibbs and owing to his wisdom and stabilising influence, I have made it a kind of annual custom, for the past several years, to visit CC to see ‘Mr. Dibbs’, aided by my friend Ronald Chin, another veteran CC teacher. Now, I will miss the pleasure of his presence and the reassurance of his wisdom. I loved ‘Mr. Dibbs’ dearly, as many other CC old boys certainly did, even though ‘Mr. Dibbs’ gave me one of only two canings that I got on the behind while attending CC.

Mr. de Bruin was a loving disciplinarian and a teacher par excellence. He could draw a near-perfect circle on the chalkboard without a compass and could solve a quadratic equation in seconds. He took time painstakingly to help us understand how to solve Add Math problems involving differentiation and integration, skills that I would learn nowhere else, and would later teach to others.

His cricketing and table tennis skills were dazzling, and he was the epitome of humility. Yet, perhaps, his greatest gift was the largeness of his heart.

Sleep on, "Mr. Dibbs", and take your rest, after a job well done. The lives you have touched at CC and elsewhere will be your rich legacy and lasting gift to humanity. We, your many academic children, mourn your loss and cherish your memory. May your soul rest in peace.

Rev Mervin Stoddart
P O Box 150953
Altamonte Springs, FL 32715

Era ends as ‘Mr. Dibbs’ laid to rest

Mel Cooke

Freelance Writer


The skies wept and the breeze howled for Bevill St. Elmo deBruin on Monday afternoon.
Simple speech, soaring song, anecdotes and reflection were punctuated by driving rain and dust-swirling wind, as the elements joined in giving thanks for the life of the revered Mathematics teacher of 40 years at Cornwall College, Montego Bay, St. James, at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in the city.

The physical representation of a life that lasted from August 28, 1923, to July 19, 2003, was as uncluttered as the man who lived it - a picture with a smile tugging at his lips topped off a wooden stand, with three plaques from the many awards he had earned above the insignia of the Order of Jamaica (OJ), simple wreaths adding a touch of colour.

However, the sentiments expressed about the man everyone called Mr. Dibbs were of far greater substance and much more lasting than any elaborate edifices that could have been set up in his honour.

The tributes came before a gathering sprinkled liberally with maroon and gold Cornwall College ties and dotted with a T-shirt or two; composed of people who rolled up in late-model vehicles and an amputee who tramped along on metal crutches; spanning grizzled and balding men to boys whose voices have not yet broken the squeak of pre-pubescence; from overseas and ‘Gully’, adjoining one border of Cornwall College.

Mr. Dibbs’ influence on teachers and students, men and boys alike, was tremendous.
"I want you to know that Mr. deBruin did not only influence students, he influenced principals. When I came to Cornwall there was a little controversy and he guided me. He was a senior man and I appreciated it," Noel Monteith, who took up leadership at Cornwall in September 1986 said.

"I met a man, a real man, a man whose memories time will not erase," he said.
A former student gave the perspective of small, scared child leaving home for the first time, when he was "delivered into the hands of Mr. Mac the Art teacher and a tall man who peered down at me. And I thought, "this is another bad idea from the parents".
"I remember when my box of food was being raided, I asked ‘who is that’. They said ‘that is Mr. Dibbs, the great Maths teacher’."

"As small boys, he was very kind to us at the beginning of term. During the break between first and second prep, he took us into the small room in Harrison House - all of us crammed in there - and he would give us sodas and tell us stories."

"He was the picture of elegance, as long as it was black pants and white shirts rolled up at the sleeves," he said, to chuckles of agreement from the gathering. "His role in transforming boys into men into legendary. He was the best teacher I ever had and the best teacher an 11 year-old boy could ever want."

Mr. Dibbs’ influence went way past the perfect circles and 45 degree angles he would draw freehand on the blackboard, as he also coached cricket, rifle-shooting and, above all, "taught us boys to be kind".

"Before the reverse swinger was invented, Mr. Dibbs taught me the outside swinger," one man said.

Past principal of Cornwall College, JAW Crick, brought Mr. Dibbs’ crack rifle shooting and personal quirks together. "I remember when the range was closed down and the rifles were being turned over to the police, we had two Winchester rifles we had just bought. He was reluctant to part with them. Occasionally he would go down to the police station on a Saturday morning, to see how they were being treated," Mr. Crick said, to chuckles from the gathering.
"Some of us will remember him for his quick wit. Some will remember him for his generosity to those in need. But all will remember his sense of justice and his high integrity," Mr. Crick said.
Mr. Crick gave a somewhat surprising bit of information, saying "Mr. deBruin told me that he drifted into teaching with no great resolve to make it his life’s work. I am sure that all of us here at Cornwall College are glad he drifted to us," the former principal said.

That drift to the school on the hill beside the sea was across oceans and continents, as Mr.

DeBruin was born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

A niece, Tessa deBruin, represented his family and read the first lesson. Current principal Croswell Taylor read an Epistle.

Once he had drifted to Orange Street, Montego Bay, though, Mr. Dibbs would not be dislodged easily and one former student recalled that it took Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 to dislodge him from the by then shambles of his beloved Harrison House, where he had been housemaster, which now houses the UWI’s MoBay Campus.

And, as Mr. Monteith said, "for Mr. deBruin teaching was not a profession, it was an opportunity to serve and he served in any capacity asked. He never pretended learning was easy, or that it came without hard work".

As one former student put it, "in everything he explained he made it as simple as anyone could want. His was a simple life, a life of service, for which he expected no reward".
It was left to Noel Monteith to put the final, simple touch on the final farewell for a man who lived his live simply well, simply and well.

"On every funeral programme there is a date of birth and a date of death, with a dash in between. The dash represents how you lived your life. I believe that all of us will be called on one day, to account for how we lived our dash. I know that thousands of us can testify that Mr. deBruin lived his dash very well," he said.

Just before Cornwall College Old Boy AJ Brown sang
The World’s Greatest, the dark skies broke into tears and, by the time he was well into the song the wind was making small dust tornadoes in the Holy Trinity courtyard.

When the Rt. Rev. The Hon. Dr. Neville De Souza delivered the sermon, his words competed with the power of nature as Mr. Bevill St. Elmo deBruin, a man who lived a long, valuable and indelible dash, was ushered home.

And for legendary Mathematics teacher, "gentle giant, benefactor and confidante", a "stickler for standards of morality, good manners and decency", it was a dash that meant no minuses.

A gentleman par excellence
Bevil St. Elmo De Bruin
Sunday Times Oct 26 2003

One chapter of our life has been closed forever with the passing away of B. St. E. de Bruin, O.D. (Officer of Distinction) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, West Indies, on July 19, this year. Should he have lived, he would have quietly had his candlelit dinner in his master's room at Cornwall College to celebrate his 80th birthday on August 28.

Bevil St. Elmo de Bruin came to London in the early 1960s. My husband, who had been his student, and I had the good fortune of meeting him when he was occupying the room next to Prof. and Mrs. E.O.E. Pereira's flat in Ealing. He had been a great admirer of my father-in-law, the late M.M. Kulasekaram, former Vice Principal of Royal College and was very happy to meet my husband.

From then onwards, a great friendship developed. My husband always kept his master posted on the Royal-Thomian scores and the results of Bradby Shield rugger matches.
Mr. Bruin in return would always send us the latest on motor racing which was my husband's favourite sport having known Graf and Grafin von Trips personally, the parents of Wolfgang von Trips who crashed in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1961.Mr. Bruin left for Cornwall College, Montego Bay, in 1962 after a short teaching spell in London. Later in the summer of 1965 he returned to London on a month's holiday and stayed with us.

It was one of the most memorable periods of our life. During that month, old Royalists who were living in England and who had heard that Mr. Bruin was in London came to see him and reminisce about their school days. They spent time with their old master drinking Jamaican rum and relishing Sri Lankan food. Our son who was taking his first footsteps had Uncle Bruin saying, "Come Putha", almost falling over in his eagerness to run to Mr. Bruin's outstretched arms. Often Mr. Bruin would carry our son perched on his shoulders, having a grandstand view, while walking around London.

Mr. Bruin never failed to keep in touch with us up to his last few months.He was able to write on any subject - be it a very descriptive train journey from Kingston to Mo-Bay, cricket, Jamaican politics - he had a large repertoire. He wrote on the thousands who perished in the 9/11 Twin Tower disaster and also gave exact figures on the victims of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When the Jamaican government conferred on him the honour of Officer of Distinction, he sent us the newspaper clippings where past students of Cornwall College had written in with such admiration of their master. When Mr. Bruin was offered the Headmastership of Cornwall College he graciously declined to accept it saying that he preferred to live in his single room. His keynotes were simplicity and generosity.

When I was expecting our second baby, my husband who did not have a very good job said to me that I would have to go into a government hospital to deliver the baby.I happened to mention this to Mr. Bruin and he simply wrote back to us asking me to please book into a private nursing home, and enclosing a cheque for £100. Here was a gentleman par excellence. His magnanimous act will never be erased from our minds until memory fades.

Royal lost an excellent and dedicated master; it was Cornwall's gain. I am sure he loved Mo-Bay and Cornwall as he got the respect he richly deserved for his dedication to his pupils. But he was also very much for Sri Lanka as well. Until we meet again - may his soul rest in peace!

My literature teacher - God, how proud I am!

By Carl Muller

Jamaica marked Heroes' Night on October 8 last year. Governor General Sir Howard Cooke was there, and everywhere in the island, hearts surgedfor one tall, lanky man, one Sri Lankan who stood before Sir Howard toreceive the insignia, the Order of Distinction.Call him Elmo de Bruin, or "Bruno" as so many Royalists knew him. Callhim Bevil de Bruin, O.D. now. For 37 years, he has been Jamaica's mostrevered teacher. The island's North Coast Times has described him as"one of the best Mathematics teachers Jamaican classrooms have ever seenhas given 37 years of excellence to Cornwall, and thousands of boys willnever be the same again".

We Royalists called him "Bruno" and he was friend, mentor and God. How proud I am, for in the fifties he was my English Literature teacher andhe gave me (shoved into me, I should say) all the glory and art oflanguage. Humbly, I can say, I am because he is.He was teaching at Royal even after I left, carrying my own cloud ofindiscipline with me, but I also carried away a precious part of him. Wehave been in touch, of course, but nothing delighted me more than thiswonderful news. Our "Bruno" is today a national hero. Jamaica has bowed to him. The outpourings, the sentiments were so many that the North Coast Times brought out a special supplement. This is a sampling.

>>>>Coast Times brought out a special supplement.

This is a sampling.>>>>>>>>

Errol Sheppey, Managing Director of Medifar in Montego Bay -

Bevil, you're such an example of kindness in so many things that you do - you go out of your way to help others and give them encouragement too - you listen with real understanding and show people you care for them so - you're such an example of kindness - such a wonderful person to know. I will always remain indebted to you.

Patrick A. Chin of Peat Marwick, Kingston -

Congratulations on your inclusion in the list of national honorees and awards in recognition of your long and exemplary service in the field of education. All Cornwallians are proud of your achievements and I am especially grateful to have been touched by your humble spirit, care and guidance over the years. May God bless and help you to continue your good work.

Such a well-loved man. To Jamaica he was affectionately, "Mr. Dibbs" and this is how three partners of an engineering firm in Montego Bay came to say: "Great math teachers produce Engineers for decades. Thank you, Mr. Dibbs."

As at Royal, "Bruno" was an allrounder at Cornwall College. He was always an ardent spokesman and athlete. I am told that he is, in Cornwall, a coach at cricket, hurdles, plays a mean game of tennis, coaches for the triple jump, pole vault, rifle shooting and table tennis.

He wasalways an ardent spokesman and athlete. I am told that he is, in Cornwall, a coach at cricket, hurdles, plays a mean game of tennis,coaches for the triple jump, pole vault, rifle shooting and tabletennis.

As a math teacher he is legendary. Writing in the North Coast Times,Horace Chang says, "Bruno" gained for Cornwall College outstandingresults in Mathematics and Pure and Applied Maths and because of him,Cornwall remained one of the few schools to offer further Mathematics at"A" Levels.Some time ago, Brendon Gooneratne told us of our "Bruno's" life atCornwall. Brendon called him "the saint of Montego Bay" and what elsecan you call a man who exhausted his salary providing for his needystudents? Some could hardly afford a lunch; others had difficultyfinding their examination fees. It was "Bruno" who eased their way.Cornwall is quick to recognize the great disciplinarian too. A teacher,Larry Simpson says: "In 1985, when I first met him, I could not fathomhow so simple looking a man could be so stern!" And he recalled: "

At an Old Boys reunion in 1996 the comment was that if you went to Cornwalland weren't taught by Mr. Dibbs, you are not a full-fledgedCornwallian."And yes, he uses the cane. One old boy said: "If the Principal wasn'tthere and Mr. de Bruin was to do the caning, man, you trembled for it.Nobody wanted to be caned by him." And yet, as all will say, his barkwas worse than the bite of his cane. "If you stepped out of line and Mr.De Bruin had to talk to you, you left feeling crushed." Yes, it hasalways been "learn or depart". That is Royal's motto - "Disce aut Discede" and, would you believe it, Cornwall's motto too.

To our "Bruno" it must have been quite like coming home. Another "Royal" where so many"Mullers" needed to have their heads put straight and taught how to steptrue.I still remember his springing step, the way he always had the topbutton of his shirt undone, the easy way he moved and his voice, socontrolled even when displeased. Not that he made no show of emotion.He brought that into his teaching and, to me, it made English Literatureso very special.And now, the race is run and one marvellous man may, for all I know,look over his shoulder and think: "Oh nonsense, it's never over. Not forme." Which is the "Bruno" so many Royalists have known and honoured. Hewill never say: "I'm done."God, how proud I am to think that for two years of my life he taught metoo. Just two years..... and it has lasted a lifetime.

Monday memorial service for 'Mr Dibbs'
Observer ReporterSaturday, July 26, 2003

WESTERN BUREAU -- The memorial service for the late Bevill de Bruin, the former Cornwall College vice-principal who served the institution for more than 35 years, will be held at the Holy Trinity Church in Montego Bay on Monday.

The former educator, affectionately called "Mr Dibbs" ,died on July 19 at the Cornwall Regional Hospital after a brief illness. He was 79.

"Mr Dibbs" teaching career began at the all-boy school on January 1, 1962, shortly after he arrived in the island from Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

Before long, he established himself as a mathematics teacher, gaining Cornwall College exceptional examination results in that subject. His influence at the institution however far exceeded the boundaries of mathematics classes, as for several years he coached cricket, athletics, table-tennis and rifle shooting teams.

A former Rhodes scholar, de Bruin was honoured with the Order of Distinction in 1999 for his outstanding contribution in the field of education. He retired from teaching at Cornwall College about five years ago, but he continued to give private lessons at home.

"He used to assist many students with lunch money, books, school fees and clothes," a teacher who worked with him at Cornwall College said. "Many of them (students) took him as their father."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy 80th Birthday Viji

Viji Weerasinghe

– a birthday tribute to a great teacher and a concerned human being

The very mention of the name will surely warm the hearts of the many who know him. Come September 17 2007 Mr.Viji Weerasinghe, very affectionately "Duckie" to all of us of an earlier generation, will be reaching a memorable milestone of four score years. During a career and an inalienable association with his Alma Mater, Royal, that spanned well-nigh sixty years he had been a teacher, benevolent administrator, confidante, an invaluable friend and adviser and above all a very concerned human being.

He joined Royal College in 1939 in the First Form after having spent a formative six years at what was then known as the Royal Preparatory School, run as a part of the Government Training College , under the care of that renowned educationalist H.S. Perera. In a recent conversation with me he recalled the 'test' he had to face to enter the Royal Preparatory School back in 1933. Inter alia, he was asked by an examiner to pick up an apple placed at a distance. Quick to respond to this 'command' not only did he pick it up but he also ate it for good measure!

Bradby era

Surely the streak of enthusiasm and entrepreneurship would have tilted the scale in his favour, which eventually got him to Royal College in 1939 and thence onto a remarkable journey. At College he belonged to the Bradby era though he spent the last two years (1946-1947) as a student at that 'Noble Pile' under another great principal J C A Corea. From January 1950 onwards it has been virtually an unbroken partnership with Royal, barring a few months of study leave in 1956. Between 1948 and 1949 he gained valuable experience honing his skills as a teacher at St John's College Nugegoda, while preparing for examinations.

In 1950, Mr.Corea, who always had an eye for picking potential requested him, (through another respected Master at Royal, Mr. Cameron "Bappa" Samarasinghe), to stand in for V.O. de Alwis Gunawardena, affectionately known as "Kotiya", who was a teacher at Royal during his time. So what began as a temporary teaching assignment at Royal turned into a long and joyful journey!

We were, indeed, extremely fortunate that he joined the staff at Royal. For it is an undisputed fact that he was a teacher par excellence. Those of us who were taught by him remember him with great affection, particularly those Latin and English Literature classes he taught with such characteristic élan. He had the remarkable ability to bring a certain infectious vivacity to the subjects he taught which made us eagerly await his lessons. Invariably, these lessons were interspersed with such exciting anecdotes that facilitated the ready assimilation of what he taught. He gave us a solid foundation in these subjects for us to build on. I would specially recall with gratitude the early lessons in Latin he gave which evoked such interest in me, more than sufficient to persuade me to continue to read Western Classics.

Having spent a long time as a teacher, and being a man of men and matters, he was able to move onto to hold the seats of Section Head and then as Deputy Principal with ease and acceptance. One of his greatest attributes was his ability to easily relate not only to his young charges but also to the many others with whom he interacted. He had a deep understanding of human nature sufficient to reach out to people with a genuine concern for them. Being a Latin scholar he believed in the adage – Homo sum; humani a me nihil alienum puto. – I am human. Therefore, I think nothing human alien to me. It was this same understanding that helped him to serve a succession of Principals at Royal with equanimity and equal acceptance and to provide them with solid advice, especially at times of impending crisis. I am personally aware of how with characteristic tact he had been able to persuade them onto the right path, as it were, when required. Whenever, he smelt impending disaster to the hallowed well-being of his school such as tinkering with her time-tested traditions he put his institutional memory and persuasive powers to good use to steer them and the ship to clear and cleaner waters. He continues to hold this place of confidence to this date.

Remarkable memory

His remarkable memory also served to endear himself to many. There wasn't a single student, who went through him, whose name he couldn't remember. There has been many an occasion when his pupils have actually shed tears of joy when he was able to recall their names and associated escapades, after many decades. On one such occasion he was met by one of them down Railway Avenue, Nugegoda , who politely asked his respected teacher whether he could remember him. The teacher's immediate response was to address the pupil personally by name after more than twenty years. The result was an endearing, albeit somewhat embarrassing, embrace by the pupil of the teacher on the centre of the road in recognition of the great care demonstrated by the latter. One of the secrets of remembering people is to care and Viji Weerasinghe really cared for his pupils, each and every one of them with concern oozing from every pore. This same ability to associate the name with the face also helped him at least on one occasion to detect an 'imposter' who tried to make friends with him in order establish a false identity with the school.

On one of my recent visits to see him at his residence in Nugegoda, he was relating his joyful days as a student and as a teacher. He was able to recall the names of his classmates who entered College in 1939, (along with mini-biographies of all of them to boot, and their current whereabouts)- not to mention some scrapes and escapades they had got into. Like any other schoolboy he too had many scrapes and escapades to relate and relish, some of them so delightfully identical with the scrapes and escapades of our times or thereafter -a reason why he was able to understand student behavior better than many others would.

Viji Weerasinghe was a man of great humour as well, who could diffuse a situation with a pithy remark or humorous turn of phrase. In fact, he preferred to use these as an instrument of discipline rather than resort to corporal chastisement. He used to tell us in class that if we do not do our home work dire consequences will follow. It is not a threat; he used to insist, but a promise. These dire consequences never followed because we saw to it that we did the needful in time. Once a pupil came whistling into class soon after the lunch interval only to be asked whether he had had bird seed for lunch! The remark was far more effective than six of the best with the cane.

Remarkable dedication

Giving well-nigh sixty years of his life to an Instititution with a remarkable dedication and commitment has been a rewarding experience for him. Once he told me in no uncertain terms that he would not have bartered that experience for anything. What is more rewarding than this, he asked me, with a satiated glint in his eye. He had simply refused to leave the staff of Royal in the face of many other, perhaps more lucrative opportunities offered to him - once as the secretary to the Arts Council, for which he was eminently suited for he was not only a man of literature but also of music and the arts as well, then as a DRO and as an Assistant Commissioner of Marketing.

Had he taken up any of these positions surely he would have carved for himself a profitable career and shone in one and all of them. Even a more lucrative teaching assignment abroad could not lure him from the call of dedicating himself to his Alma Mater. Nor could an offer of a local position in management on 'you name your price' terms. He simply brushed all these opportunities aside to heed the call of his Alma Mater, jealously guarding the bridge, as it were, to repay the debt he owed and to keep the fame of his dear old school inviolate: the school that nurtured him ,and, indeed, all of us, to Man's Estate.

It was Royal's great good fortune that Mr. Corea took that sagacious decision to invite Mr Viji Weerasinghe to join the staff of Royal way backing in 1950 and what an eventful and wonderful journey it has been for him , for his school and for all of us.

Over the years he had grown like a massive oak tree whose endearing branches had given, and still continues to give, that essential shade and comfort to many a Royalist, young and old, from near and afar, exuding a certain vibrancy and fragrance of rectitude, dignity and integrity- values he endevoured to instill in all of us.

For the relentless and dedicated service he has rendered with such loving care to his Alma Mater, he will not only remain one of the more distinguished old boys, more distinguished than most, but also one of her noblest sons. Generations of Royalists, young and old, from all walks of life, all over the world will bow their heads in deep respect and gratitude for all what he has done and continues to do for them and for his school. A Right Royal salute to you, Sir, Magister Carissimus, on your 80th Birthday! May you be blessed with good health and contentment in the years to come.



The Icon of Royal
By M. Rizan Nazeer

Mr. Vijitha (Viji) Weerasinghe, an icon of Royal College who has maintained his links with the school for an astonishing period of 74 years as a student, teacher and employee of the Royal College Union post-retirement celebrates his 80th birthday on September 17. Thousands of old Royalists who have known and loved Viji, once known as Ducky to his students, will join in celebrating this landmark occasion.

Viji Weerasinghe joined the kindergarten of the Royal Preparatory School as a 5-year old in 1933 and then Royal College proper in the first form in 1939 when Mr. H.A. Wijesinghe was Acting Principal.

From those early days in 1933, his progression through the school to which he returned as a teacher and retired as Deputy Principal, continuing post-retirement at the RCU, has been in the view of all who know him to be invaluable and outstanding.

"It's hardly an imaginable record and the thought of it ever being broken seems most unlikely if not impossible," an old student said.

Viji learnt of books and learnt of men at Royal, engaging in the fun and frolic that boys of his age have indulged in over generations. All these obviously moulded him to be the great teacher he was, able with an unmatched understanding of the schoolboy's mischievous tendencies. He had an innate talent to deal with them humanely while at all times retaining his charges' respect and affection.


Weerasinghe's greatness as a teacher has stood at test of time. English literature and Latin were subjects which he excelled in teaching and nobody who was in those classes will ever forget them. His pupils are in many walks of life, both humble and exalted, and they keep coming back to their old teacher for the pleasure of his company and also sometimes to clear a doubt they might have on any and everything.

I was fortunate to be in his English and Latin classes and I recall with much nostalgia the poems he read out and passages of great works in English. His reading aloud, with the right inflection of voice, capturing the drama in what he read was an unforgettable experience. He did justice to the substance and the explanations that followed complemented the spark he lit by his manner of delivery. Literature came alive in his classroom and I was not alone in resenting the bell signaling the period was over.

Those classes will remain in the hearts and minds of his students wherever they are just like those daffodils in William Wordsworth's immortal poem.

A student of Viji who is now an English newspaper editor freely admits that the only Shakespeare he knows is what he was made to memorize by Viji as `punishment' for some small transgression. "You will curse me now but might bless me later," Ducky would say marking out a passage of Shakespeare to memorize. Not for him those traditional 100 lines proclaiming that "I will not make a noise in class." In fact, nobody ever made a noise in his class.


Tirelessly he would direct his students with wisdom acquired through years of experience. He would comfort the stricken, encourage the striver and never throw even the most unwanted boy out of class. He was a breath of fresh air in the classroom and a tower of strength to all who came to him. A significant feature in Viji is his ability to shoulder any responsibility with great acceptance and treat all with equanimity with sympathy.

Nobody has ever known Viji to lose his temper. His memory was remarkably prodigious and he never forgot the name of any of his students despite literally thousands passing through his hands. Years after they had left school, he would surprise them by addressing them by name and recalling special anecdotes of their schooldays long be forgotten by all but the participants! That's what made him special. Each of us was his personal concern and Royal College was literally in his blood.

On rare occasions when he found it hard to find the right word in English, his sense of humour and his knowledge of Latin came to the fore. He would quote the appropriate phrase in Latin, translating into English for the uninitiated that included most of us!

Principals and teachers down the ages sought him out for advice in all matters needing another opinion. His advice was invaluable. Who but Viji knew so well Royal's long traditions and the emerging trends of the times.

So we see this man with an unwavering vision who carved a mission for himself within the portals of our school, ever alert to the changing fortunes of the Royal College, steering her through troubled waters to a safe haven.

Mr. Weerasinghe, Sir, I am especially grateful to you for moulding me. There was a time of great sadness in my life when I lost my mother. I was a very small person and I felt the void acutely. Sir, you took me under your wing, comforted me and took me through those difficult days, instilling in me many noble thoughts and telling me to "seek to strive and to find" and also serve our school.

In fact the position I occupy in life and the office I hold in the Old Boys Union are the culmination of many lessons and ideas that you imparted to me. I have, and will continue to hand them down to as many Royalists and others whenever the occasion presents itself. Thus, in a way, I will be handing down the torch that was lit in eighteen hundred and thirty five, it's flame ever growing, ever glowing, a beacon flare from the dome of The Royal College, for the entire world to see.

Mr. Weerasinghe carries this torch resolutely and as the saying goes

"A teacher affects eternity. You never know where his influence ends."

You are that teacher, Sir,

Happy Birthday to you. May the powers that look over us strengthen your hand, the hand that reaches out to all of us.

(The writer is the Hony. Secretary of the Royal College Union)

[Sunday Island - Sep 16 2007]

To sir with love

by Maj Gen (Dr) Tilak JAYAWEERA (rtd)

GREAT TEACHER: “What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches” This quotation of Karl Menninger stimulated me to pen a note to appreciate this great teacher, who has rendered yeoman service to us Royalists for more than five decades.

It is said that a good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others and that is exactly what Vijitha Weerasinghe has being doing almost his entire professional life, as teaching remains the profession that teaches all other professions. It is our wish that this candle should go on for decades.

I walked into Weerasinghe’s room, fully equipped with an exhaust fan a safety precaution, to prevent the visitors from getting choked on the 11th of September to seek permission, to write about him to the media on his eightieth birthday that falls today, only to be flatly refused.

When I explained, my desire to write about him, which was not only as a mark of respect and to wish him well on his eightieth birthday but also to make it an opportunity to make the world know, “what a noble profession teaching was” and its sad plight today, when we hear teachers holding students to ransom, following the foot path of learned medical men like us, who are famous for holding patients to ransom at the drop of a hat, when we hear of teachers brutally assaulting students and are refereed to as brutes, my request was granted conditionally.

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it, is fast becoming a lost tradition, as the age old saying goes “Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson, the present is tense and the past was perfect”, and so it was.

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.

There were teachers and teachers at Royal but Viji Weerasinghe was unique; this uniqueness is explained adequately by William A Ward’s famous quotation: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires. Need I say more? He was; he is and he will be an inspiration to all of us hopefully for a long, long time. In a nutshell he is an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity.

My first acquaintance with this great teacher was way back in 1961 as a student in his Upper V Latin Class. Two things I remember, one was everybody except yours truly, got distinctions and the other was his famous saying, Da mihi basia mille, meaning “Give me thousand kisses” If you tell this to Weerasinghe today, I bet my last copper he will go on, Da mihi basia mille; deinde centum; dein mille altera; deinde centum.

The subjects he taught us were English Literature and Latin. In those good old days Mr Viji Weerasinghe was a robust young man, who was referred affectionately by a nick name which I am forbidden to tell, for reasons best known to him. Mr. Weerasinghe had a pleasing personality and was one who never lost his temper and kept his cool as far as I can remember except for one occasion.

In the Latin class for some stupid thing I did, which I can’t remember, Mr Weerasinghe did hammer me first by hand and then by Virgil Aeneid the Latin text.We used to get slapped virtually by every master at college not because teachers were bad but we were.

This was routine. How ever you might probably be hearing for the first time, an incident where Mr Viji Weerasinghe has hit a student. This is true. I happen to be the only student Weerasinghe had hit in his entire teaching career. This paid rich dividends later.

It was in 1982 that I went to meet Mr Weerasinghe when he was the Deputy Principal to seek his advice to get my son admitted to college. Those days there were men in the legislature who could formulate laws for school admissions unlike today but the competition was still stiff to get a child into Royal.

I was given an additional mark at the interview that followed, in open court for being the only student to have got hammered by him. See how far small things go. This is the uniqueness of Weerasinghe.

He had character and integrity and never hesitated to call a spade a spade. Weerasinghe had spent 73 years of his life at Royal, 14 years as a student; 21 years as a teacher; six years as a head master; nine years as a deputy principal and ten years as a vice president and advisor to the Royal College Union. This indeed should be a world record and find a place in the Guinness book of records.

Weerasinghe was not only a teacher, not only a head master, not only a deputy principle, not only an adviser to the College Union but was more a human being par excellence.

Every time I left this noble personality, either at his residence or at his office, never did I fail to worship him, in our traditional style irrespective what attire I wore whether that of a General or that of a civilian.

In this context what better way can I sign off, other than quoting a Gatha from the Maha Mangala Sutta “Pujacha pujaninanan, ethan mangala mutthaman” Sir, You are one person, who should be venerated; and we shall.

Today on your eightieth birthday, Royalists Young and Royalists Old join me in wishing you a Very Happy Birthday and a Long Life.

[Daily News - Mon Sep 17 2007]

Vijitha Weerasinghe on his 80th birthday

It is with a sense of admiration and love for this colossus in the field of education, that I write this appreciation of a person of distinction- Vijitha Weerasinghe. He was not only a doyen in the field of Education, where he excelled by becoming one of the Principals of Royal College, he was also a humane, humble, benevolent son of mother Lanka. He was a gifted and noble educationist, principal and headmaster par excellence and endeared himself for over 50 years to his Alma Mater by his dedication and sincerity.

Vijitha Weerasinghe was my Principal from my childhood days at Royal Junior School, now known as Royal College.

Going down memory lane in 1944, two incidents remain etched in my memory of this remarkable and humane individual who was more than a Principal to me.

Many years ago, I went to Royal College as 1 had some work concerning the Royal College Old Boys Union. I had to pass the office of the principal of who was known to be a strict disciplinarian. As I was not a student of the school anymore, I was not wearing a white trouser and shirt. From somewhere in the building I hear someone shouting at me and asking me what I was doing there, in front of many students and teachers. I was shocked, and told him why I had come, and who 1 was. Without even bothering to hear me out fully, he told me to leave the place at once. I walked out of his office, very offended. While going out I met a former teacher who recognised me. I related the story to her. She told me not to worry as the principal of the College was a very outspoken man. I then walked straight to Royal Junior School, and went to the office of the Principal Vijitha Weerasinghe. He was at a meeting with some teachers, so his secretary asked me to sit in the library, until he called me. Within a few minutes, I was asked to go inside his room. I then stood at the door of his office, and asked him if he could remember me. He welcomed me with open arms, saying, “ My dear friend Amyn Chatoor, you seem to be visibly upset. Please come in, and talk to me.”

I then told him in blunt words, about my encounter with the Principal of the school. He replied by saying,“ Son, that is no way to speak about elders. However, I apologize to you on his behalf for the treatment he has given you. Now tell me what I can do for you as it is indeed a pleasure to meet you after such a long time”. He solved the problem for me in a second, offered me tea and spent over an hour with me in spite of his busy schedule. Even though I kept asking him if I could leave, he wanted me to stay and spoke to me for an hour. When I finally left the school, I was a very happy person, because of the advice given me by this humble and noble human being, - Vijitha Weerasinghe .

Another example that remains etched in memory was when the Royal College Union Secretary had sent a circular asking for donations towards the Vijitha Weerasinghe Fund for his yeomen service towards our Alma Mater. As a gesture of gratitude and love to this humane individual, I sent my donation to the Secretary of the Union, and forgot about it. About a fortnight later, I received a letter by registered post. It was a personal note from him to thank me. I was touched and immediately sent him a letter telling him that it was my duty to do whatever I could for him as he was more than a Principal to me.

In conclusion, it is my earnest hope and prayer, that this benevolent, humane, humble and gifted son of Mother Lanka, continues to serve our Motherland, for many more years as an Educationist par excellence.

Honourable Sir, may God bless you with eternal happiness, peace and longevity, and may you continue to serve humanity, for many more years to come.

Amyn Chatoor

[Nation Sunday Oct 7 2007]