Archive | August, 2013

Neville de Silva


Tribute to Neville N. de Silva – An Officer and Gentleman!

Posted on 10 August 2013 by admin


By Upali Obeyesekere – President, JPAA Canada


Neville de Silva

Neville de Silva

The Sri Lankan community in Toronto lost one of its beloved personalities last month. Neville N. de Silva – former Sri Lanka Police Officer, schoolboy cricketer and community leader passed away on June 23rd in Mississauga. A Memorial Service was later held for the repose of Neville’s soul, on July 15th at St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Mississauga attended by a large crowd of Sri Lankans and Canadians who befriended this gentleman over the years. The Life & Times of Neville de Silva from 1927 – 2013, could be captured in three awesome chapters lived through 86 years. First as a schoolboy who excelled in sports at his Alma Mater – St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. Second as a young Sub-Inspector who joined the Ceylon Police and rose in rank until he left the shores of his beloved country of birth and the third and final chapter captures his arrival in Canada over forty years back and his personal contribution to society.

One of the oldest living Peterite cricketers until his demise last month, Neville de Silva played alongside the great Dion Walles and was known to be a splendid all-rounder. Neville de Silva played for St. Peter`s College for 3 years – from 1945-1947, under the captaincy of Anton Perera (1945); and Dion Walles (1946 & 1947). 1946 and 1947 were two of St. Peter`s greatest years, with legendary Dion Walles leading the school. His team mates were Mike Chanmugam, Harold de Silva, Shelley Wickramasinghe, Darrel Weinman, Hugh Fernando, Bernard Wijetunga (Sr), Ossie Peiris, Maurice Perera, Ian Lappen and Mark Perera among others. These two years also registered the first two victories for St. Peter`s in the Joe-Pete series and this invincible team were declared the official Champions of School Cricket.

Let me capture highlights of Neville de Silva`s performances for his Alma Mater from 1945-1947.

1945 – St. Joseph`s College beat St. Peter`s College by 149 runs. Peterites were led by Anton Perera and Josephian were led by Hubert Bagot. St. Joseph`s scored 240 and 176 for 6 declared. St. Peter replied with 163 and 102 conceding to Josephian win. All-rounder Neville de Silva who was a fresher in the side captured 1 for 16 and 1 for 7 in the two innings. As a No.8 batsman, Neville scored 2 and was unbeaten with 20 runs in the 2nd innings.

1946 – St. Peter`s College won by 7 wickets and registered the first win in the series. Dion Walles and Neil Weerasinghe captained St. Peter`s and St. Joseph`s respectively. The Josephians scored 109 and 212 runs. Peterites scored 269 runs in the 1st innings and lost 3 wickets in making the required 56 runs. Going in at No.6  – Neville de Silva scored 23 and was unbeaten with 5 runs in the 2nd innings and saw his side make the required runs. In the bowling department, Neville did not  take any wickets in the 1st innings but 1 for 26 in the 2nd.

1947 – St. Peter`s College won by an innings and 19 runs. The Peterites won the toss and amassed 317 runs with Mike Chanmugam hitting 85 runs. Neville de Silva going in at No.3, scored 20 runs. The Josephians scored 141 and 157 runs respectively in the two innings. Neville had a match bag of 2 wkts for 39 runs in 12 overs.

Later, he joined the Ceylon Police and played for the Police team for a number of years. Neville served in many stations in the Northern, North Western and Colombo Regions. His many Police friends and subordinates who worked with him including popular ruggerite S. Sivendran talks of Neville with fondness and there is one conclusion – that he was a Gentleman and Officer! He was Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) when he left Ceylon for Canada.

Neville immigrated to Canada over 40 years back and lived in Mississauga, Ontario all his life. He leaves behind his beloved wife Belle, two sons Rohantha & Joe (Dinali); two daughters Shehara (Elliott) and Marianne (Peter) and seven grandchildren

Neville will be remembered in the final chapter for his commitment and contribution to the Sri Lankan Community in Toronto for over forty years. Upon arrival in Canada (Toronto), Neville was fortunate in securing employment with the Metro Toronto Police and worked alongside another committed Sri Lankan, Benito de Silva – for more than thirty years, until his retirement. Neville and his beloved wife Belle brought up four children who have all branched off into various meaningful professions and live in Toronto, U.S.A., and Germany. One of the proudest moments in Neville’s life was when his daughter Shehara joined the Metro Toronto Police Service and followed his chosen profession in Sri Lanka. He was so proud of this fact.

Despite the challenges that face a new immigrant, Neville made his presence felt with his undivided attention to make this world a better to place to live. Despite severe time constraints in his personal life, he still devoted time to build the Canada-Sri Lanka Association (CSLA) in the 70s along with some pioneers who envisioned a better and informed Sri Lankan Community in Canada. Once the CSLA was strong and running well, Neville joined a few visionaries like Gamini Cooray, Para Jayasuriya and Nihal Perera and filled a void by forming the Sri Lanka Club – Peel in 1982, to cater to the Sri Lankans domiciled in the west end of Toronto. With Neville’s astute leadership the Sri Lanka Club – Peel went from strength to strength. The dances organised by this club with Neville’s stewardship were amazing. They were the best, and the small community of Sri Lankans at the time had one whale of a time. Been a cricketer of repute in Sri Lanka, Neville provided leadership to form the first structured Sri Lanka Cricket XI in Canada. Two of his closest friends Ismuth Cassim and Nihal Perera helped him to make this happen. Ismuth was the first captain of this team in the first few years and I had the pleasure of taking over from 1984-1989. The team included amongst others Darrel Lieversz (former Royal & Ceylon cricketer); Priya Fernando & H.B. Tamitegama (Wesley cricketers) and several other well known cricketers of yesteryear. Neville took the Sri Lanka Club – Peel to its full potential in those formative years for the Sri Lanka Community in Canada. Along with Tina (Pushpa) Perera, the late Lionel Fernando, Lyall & Sriya Perera – Neville organized the first Sri Lanka Tennis Tournament to be conducted in Canada. Neville was a good Tennis player and a willing participant with the younger players. The tournament grew in stature and attracted the ‘cream of the crop’ among Tennis players  from the community.

More than all this, Neville was a benefactor to many a Sri Lankan who were new immigrants to Canada in the 70s and 80s. His advocacy was sought by many and he always had time to help others. He was kind, generous, compassionate and thoughtful. His humanitarian deeds, contributions to society are numerous and speaks volumes. He is acknowledged as one of the greatest Sri Lankans to have lived in Canada. Neville never lost his sense of humour throughout his ordeal. He welcomed all to his private room in the Nursing Home with open arms and a joke, much as he would at home with Belle and the children. Reminds me of a quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Don’t wish me happiness – I don’t expect to be happy….it’s gotten beyond that, somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humour – I will need them all!”

Dear Neville – The Sri Lankan Community in Toronto salutes you! Though you came from a privileged background, you never lost the common touch. Your generosity of time to help the needy will not be easily forgotten. Your contribution to the Roman Catholic Diocese in Mississauga is legendary. You are one person (in my mind) who came to Canada to make others happy. Material things mattered little to you. In fact, I believe you donated your real estate assets in Sri Lanka to the Church hierarchy of our country of birth. Borrowing the words of my friend Victor Melder of Australia, I can almost see you say with your generous smile,“The Service I Render Others is The Rent I Pay For My Space On Earth”.

Our sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to Neville’s beloved wife Belle, Sons Rohantha & Joe (Dinali); daughters Shehara (Elliott) and Marianne (Peter) and seven grandchildren.

May Neville’s Soul Rest In Peace!


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How the Association of Old Josephians in the U.K. was formed

Posted on 01 August 2013 by admin


By Peter E Perera- (The Founder President.)


Some of us Old Joes who were here in London as students in 1960 formed an informal Association of Old Joes at the Catholic International Chaplaincy at Holland Park. I recall Michael & Lalin Fernando, Gamini Don Michael and Spencer Anthony were members then, also Fr Peter A Pillai who visited us in London at that time, celebrated Mass at the Chaplaincy.

Some years later, when a few of us returned to the UK, a chance remark at a social gathering, between Suranganee, wife of my Josephian colleague Holsey Gomez and my wife Manique, prompted the first gathering at an informal dinner which took place at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch in 1982. Amongst the attendees at the dinner were the former Josephian Cricket Captain Neil Weerasinghe and several other distinguished Old Joes from Colombo who traveled here as part of the Sri Lankan Presidential delegation for the Commonwealth exhibition.

As the word spread the numbers grew and several dinners later a bigger gathering met at the Ceylon Tea Centre in Piccadilly. Some 80 Old Joes and their wives attended the occasion and by a unanimous decision I was invited to officially lead the formation of the New Association. One of the primary objects of the articles of the Constitution was, in consultation with the Rector, to assist the College in its most urgent needs. The Inaugural Dinner Dance held in the Carlisle Suite at the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch in 1988, turned out to be a resounding success with 275 guests present.

The Rector at that time, Rev Fr Stanley Abeysekera had built a new Science Block but lacked the funds to equip the Physics and Chemistry Laboratories. The money that was raised at the Cumberland Hotel Dinner Dances was set aside for equipping the new Labs from a leading supplier of School equipment in the UK. These were then shipped to the College. The benefit of having first rate Labs was certainly reflected in the succeeding years. The A level results in the Science subjects were excellent, with no less than 12 students per year obtaining top results in the A level exams.

The next Project was to assist and equip the College Brass Band. Dinner Dances held at the Selfridge Hotel and Skyline Heathrow Hotel raised sufficient funds to fully equip the Band. It is noteworthy that the College Band has since won the All Island Brass School Band competition several times.

Contributions were also made towards the New Sports Complex at the College.

Next was a more ambitious project of building a Radio and Satellite Communications Laboratory in memory of the late Fr Ignatius Perera. Subsequent Dinner Dances held at the Langham Hilton, Portland Place W2 in 1993, 94 and 95 raised funds to fully equip a Radio Station and Electronics Lab at the Bonjean Hall Tower Block, manned with state of the art equipment which continues to be used in Satellite Tracking & Radio communications and training for students at all levels. The annual fund raising Josephian walk and the Annual “International Scouts Jamboree on the Air” are run from the Radio Centre manned by students and teachers.

The biggest social Event for the Old Joes in the UK was the Centenary Dinner Dance held at the Langham Hilton, in 1995. It was a truly memorable event in which we even received a special message from Her Majesty the Queen. The one time great pace bowler and College Cricket captain Rev Fr Joe De Mel was present to add a touch of nostalgia to the evening. Also present were Niranjan Deva Addittya, MP and currently a Member of the European Parliament and several other notable personalities. This event was a spectacular one, remembered for its elegance, sophistication and conviviality

The Joe-Pete matches and participation in the Festival of Cricket, led for many years by the current President Victor Wickramasinghe, have been prominent sporting events and continue to this day.

If I may, on a personal note, add that one of the most ardent, consistent and colourful member over the many years, from its very inception has been Mr. Cuthbert Charles and his wife. Cuthbert Charles has always been a pillar of strength for every cause he has supported and he has especially come from his overseas posting in India to be present here tonight.


1988 & 1989 Peter Perera

1990 & 1991 Anton Karunaratne

1992 & 1993 Cuthbert Charles

1994 & 1995 Hilary Soyza

1996 & 1997 Thalath Ismail

1998 & 1999 Lakshman Malawana

2000 & 2001 Indra Rajaratnam

2002 & 2003 Rohana Eliatamby

2004 & 2005 Pathman Tambimuttu

2006 & 2007 Victor Wickramsinghe

2013/2014 Susantha Senanayaka


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