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Old 27-08-20, 10:25 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Errol Fernando Devout Christian

Errol Fernando

Devout Christian

My good friend and classmate, Errol Fernando, passed away peacefully on October 10. He was my classmate at St. Sebastian?s College, Moratuwa, between the years 1942 and 1951.

He passed the Colombo University Entrance Examination in Physics, Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology in 1951. He then entered the university in 1952 and graduated in 1955 with a great desire to teach Chemistry.

Errol taught Chemistry at the University of Colombo, as well as S. Thomas? College. Later, he provided private tuition as well. There were a large number of students for his classes, and some students had to climb trees to get a fair deal from his teaching.

As for remuneration, most of the students had no money to give him. But Errol was quite satisfied with what he received. During this time, the Christian Brothers at St. Sebastian?s College sent Errol to a Christian Brothers? School in Pakistan and he returned after teaching there for about 30 years. Thereafter, Errol lived near St. Joseph?s Church in Moratuwa. He, together with his sisters, made great contributions to the welfare of the church.

Nursed in those great qualities of patience and humility, there came a day when he had to abandon all his projects and stay at home, confined to his religious duties. Then, God?s calling came on October 10, and he answered with great satisfaction as he had served God and man respectfully.

Errol was a man who rendered yeoman service in the field of education, and I am sure his pupils will always remember him as their ?Chemistry Sir?. May the good Lord grant him eternal rest, and may he live in the heart of Jesus for all of time.

Marshall Fernando
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Old 27-08-20, 10:29 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Members of the Group of 56 with Chemistry teacher Mr. Errol Fernando.

Members of the Group of 56 with Chemistry teacher Mr. Errol Fernando.





I had the inordinate privilege last weekend of attending the 60th reunion of my classmates.

On 17th January 1956, sixty two new boys, 7 to 8 year old youngsters clad in the lower school uniform of blue shorts and white shirts, filed into the classrooms at the northern end of the primary school block at S Thomas? College in Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka. We were assigned to either Form IB ( class teacher Mrs Joy Jacob) or Form IA ( under Mrs Karunaratne) .

We were an eclectic group ? with names as diverse as Abeywardena, Bartholomeusz, Cassim and Daniels, not just Christians (as one may have expected from an Anglican school called S. Thomas?) but also Buddhists, Hindus and Muslms, born in places as far apart as Nallur and Tangalle.

Over the years this original cohort expanded ? enlarged by the arrival of boys from other primary schools (such as STC Prep, most of whom joined us when we reached the Middle School in 1960) and those who joined us in the College Forms in 1964, having done their O Level examinations elsewhere (such as at STC Gurutalawa). There was also the gradual absorption of boys from the class a year above us who, required to repeat a year, were thus afforded the privilege of joining us.

So the original class of 62 grew into the group of classmates numbering over a hundred who are are now proud to call themselves the Group of 56.

Thanks to the initiative of Nesan Asirwatham (now domiciled in England) who floated the idea mid last year and then kept the ball rolling ? plus the yeoman efforts of those in Colombo such as Major General Lohan Goonewardena and Captain Gihan Fernando ? no less than 75 of the Group attended the celebrations.

From as far afield as Edmonton in Canada, Melbourne in Australia, Edinburgh in Scotland and Los Angeles in the USA they came ? to join the fifty or so living in Sri Lanka ? to mark the historic 60th anniversary of our joining S. Thomas? College.

The celebrations commenced with a service in the College chapel on Sunday 6th March ? conducted by Rev Sunil de Silva (also a classmate) , where the sermon was preached by the current Warden of the school, Rev Mark Billimoria. The service was attended by members of all faiths, not just the card carrying Christians in the group!

This was followed by a Kiributh breakfast in the old dining hall and a walk around the school allowing us to recall, amid much laughter, half-forgotten stories and relive old memories.

The main celebration took the form of a formal dinner at the Kingsbury on Monday evening that was well attended by members and partners. It was good to see old friends who had not seen each other for decades chatting away as if the years had just slipped away.

Ma Ren Wei, now a respected architect in Singapore, was seen chatting to Sivakumar Nithiananda, recently retired dental surgeon from Cardiff; Ralph D?Silva, a very successful businessman in Melbourne, kept us entertained with his stories while Lasantha Perera, well known pharmacist from Negombo, kept us entertained with his singing, showing us that his singing voice had not lost its lustre over the years. The anniversary cake was cut by the Warden, our old teacher Mr C. Coperahewa, Dr. R.G Rajaratnam and Mr. Rakhita Jayawardena.

Modest as I am, I cannot help recording here that the Group of 56 has produced many illustrious sons who have served Sri Lanka well. Attorney General, Foreign Secretary, General Manager of the Railways, Chief of Staff of the Army, Warden (Principal) of our own school S.Thomas? College ? these are all posts in this country that have been held at one time or another by our members. We have contributed in no more small measure to academia and the professions, to the armed services and the police, to the worlds of business, commerce, aviation and sports. We have done well not only in Sri Lanka but also overseas. Most important, The Group of 56 has produced citizens who, as Warden Buck exhorted ?are men and gentlemen always? .

Interestingly, the Group does not count among its number any serving politicians ? which is in keeping with George Bernard Shaw?s observation in his 1905 play Major Barbara about someone who ?knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career?. Of course this might explain the large number of former students of Royal College who are currently in parliament and in the cabinet.

The Reunion afforded many now domiciled overseas to visit Sri Lanka ? where they enjoyed a meal specially prepared by famous Australian chef Jimmy Shu ( an old classmate) and then travelled to Dambulla to spend a day in the home of Palitha Kohona, our former permanent representative at the UN (also an old classmate).

It was a wonderful week of camaraderie, memories and the rekindling of old friendships.

Even if I do say so myself, 1956 was certainly a vintage year that has produced men who have fulfilled the exhortation of Warden Buck: ?You belong to one of the best schools in the world, a school with a tradition. Be proud to be a Thomian ? and make the college proud of numbering you among its sons.?
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Old 27-08-20, 10:31 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Errol Fernando ? Teacher, Mentor & Friend

Errol Fernando ? Teacher, Mentor & Friend
October 27, 2019 at 11:46 am
I first met him, as most others of my age did, at the Sermon Hall of the Buddhist Temple on Temple Road, Bambalapitiya. Although I can?t remember the exact year, it was in early 70?s, when I was doing my A ?Level?s at Ananda College.

Mendis, a class mate from Moratuwa told me all about the ?Errol Class? and the hundreds of Colombo?s prettiest girls who patronized these classes. Furthermore, it was practically free of charge ? It was widely rumored that Mr Errol Fernando did not insist on payments. If you can?t pay, you just hand over an empty envelope, Period. He would understand. However, there was a hitch ? the classes were in English medium! English, ( or ?Kaduwa? ), the bane of Ananda College students, for that matter, bane of the Sinhala Nation, was not going to keep me from all that colour ? so I thought, and went along with my friend who was a keen student of chemistry.

Errol Fernando (FRSC), 2nd Class (Hon) Chemistry, Univ. Peradeniya was a born teacher of Chemistry. He knew everything there is to know about the history of the subject and also the life stories of all the great contributors to the subject. He had a story to tell about the discovery of every element and the scientist behind it. It was impossible not to get enamored by his stories (often funny) and not end up a chemophillic oneself. He mesmerized the chemistry students in the sixties and the seventies lecturing to massive crowds (400 per class) in Colombo and later continued in Pakistan for another couple of decades. Starting from carbide-water going up to aromatic organic compounds, he would make the most complex chemical reactions appear ordinary. His mnemonics were legendary and even after fifty years, I can still rattle off some parts of the periodic table without missing a beat.

On my first day, the class was full to the brim and we had to wait outside and take notes (in Singlish), while standing. Time just flew at Errol classes. Standing at 5 ft no inches, Errol was a moving fleck on the far end of the hall. At the end of the class, while some students milled around Errol to clear their doubts, some of us hurried to the nearby bus halt to lay in wait. However, Errol was so convincing, funny and enlightening, my attention gradually switched to Chemistry from the original purpose we started off with. I soon found myself queuing at the other end of the Hall after class, instead of waiting at the bus halt.

I can?t remember when, but it was at one of those ?after class sessions?, that he invited me to join him for a glass of iced coffee and cheese cake at the nearby Green Cabin. Errol was a staunch customer and old Mr. Cyril Rodrigo (an uncle of my future wife) never forgot to have a small chat with him. This was my entry into the select group of students who were directly mentored by Errol himself. The Green Cabin gang during my time with Errol was mostly Maxi, Malli, Ganesh, Hewa & George (who were resident students at Errol?s place). In addition often there were other senior students joining us who had come hoping to meet him after the class. Errol never let anybody pay for anything. Everything was paid for and you had just one thing to do, study. He had a full library at home and the boys had no excuse. Lunch / Dinner time was the quiz time and you?d better be prepared.It was only natural that I too ended up atErrol?s place at No.7, Siripala Road, Mt Lavinia, where Errol lived with his group of golayas. Christo was the senior most, being a final year Medico. Errol was a confirmed bachelor and remained so until his last day.

Ganesh, one year my senior and roommate at Errol?s could speak to me only in English ? for he was a Thomian and a Tamil of Indian origin. All Thanks to him, by the time he left to join Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, Madras) in Chennai in 1972, I was a confident exponent of the queen?s lingo. Errol had so much fun at the weekly classes narrating my ?murdering the queen stuff?, which he regularly updated by evesdropping on our ongoing philosophical excursions into amorous mis-adventures of myriads of Hindu Gods or the latest book section of the Readers Digest. The next year, I followed Ganesh to IIT Madras, Maxi to London to study electronics and George went on to do Medicine at JIPMER inPondicherry. Christo became a Doctor in the same year. Errol was so involved in making sure that we ?made it?, when one of us were to go overseas, he contacted no less than four SSPs of Police in one night to hurry up a delayed exit permit. After going overseas and entering University we remained in touch with Errol, and dropped in on him during our summer vacations.

In the late seventies, the politically motivated changes in the A /Level curriculum irritated Errol off to such an extent that he decided to chuck it all and moved to St. Patrick?s High School in Karachi. Sri Lanka?s loss was their gain for the next 25 or so years.

After retirement, he came back to his home town Moratuwa to lead a more sedentary life among his beloved sisters and their families. Like many other old students, I used to visit him in Moratuwa with my kids, whenever they were on holiday from College. He would just talk with them for hours narrating old tales. He enjoyed immensely such grandfather moments.

Errol was a devout Catholic and a severe critic of the clergy. He also admired the pious. He was a great fan of the well-known Theravada Buddhist monk Ven. Ajahn Brahmava? so. Walking into the Colombo National Hospital was like visiting friends ? where most of the senior doctors were his dear students.

More than anything else, he was a man with a big heart, who was ready to help anyone in need, and continued to do so till his last days. He has made it my duty now, to distribute his life savings among a long list of deserving nominees.

I shall miss you dear Sir. May your soul rest in peace?.

Lal Rupasinghe

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