The Inaugural Shelton Wirasinha Oration

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Inaugural Shelton Wirasinha Oration 2017 was held on the evening of 19th October 2017 at the College Main Hall.  The oration was delivered by a distinguished Old Boy and Media personality, Mr Kumar de Silva.

With his 21 year tenure as Principal of Wesley College from 1962-1983, Arthur Shelton Wirasinha goes on record as being the second longest serving Principal of the College after Revd. Henry Highfield.

A product of Richmond College, Galle, Shelton Wirasinha touched the hearts and lives of tens of thousands of students who passed through the portals of Wesley College.

Shelton Wirasinha Oration was thus a fitting event which paid homage to this great educationist.


The Bard of the Wesley Manor

By Kumar de Silva


I stand before you here today, extremely proud, yet deeply humbled at this invitation to deliver the inaugural Shelton Wirasinha Oration.

To those of us from the past, we knew Shelton Wirasinha as a living, breathing, multi-dimensional human being … to those of you from the present, Shelton Wirasinha is just a Memorial Building on what was once, the Wesley College tennis courts and later the sweet potato patch.

Shelton Wirasinha is also that old sepia photograph up on the wall. I shall, in the next one hour, attempt to bring that photograph back to life, to re-live and retrace his life and times over 62 years, from Richmond Hill in Galle to Karlsruhe in Colombo


Pre-Wesley College era

Shelton Wirasinha was born on 24th November 1923 in a house at the foot of Richmond Hill in Galle, just beyond the level crossing. His father was Lionel Wirasinha, a draughtsman in the government service and his mother was Letitia, a teacher.

The Wirasinhas kept a simply home with a large garden full of wild flowers, which in turn, played home to a large variety of birds. Leo and Letty Wirasinha were proud of their two boys. There was Arthur Shelton and his older brother Victor Lloyd. V.L. Wirasinha later went on to become a brilliant Civil Servant.

The four-year old Arthur Shelton began scrawling his ABCs and 1,2,3s at Richmond College under whose portals he was later to pass as Prefect, Senior Prefect, Teacher, Headmaster, Vice Principal and Principal.

His meteoric rise at College was punctuated by successes in almost every field. He was the indefatigable Chorister, Debator, Dramatist, Scout, Athlete, Musician, Cricketer and Scholar. A keen sportsman, he excelled in cricket, track and field events, basketball and tennis. He was also a very eloquent speaker.

His relatively easy stride in the academic sphere was crowned when he was awarded the College's much-coveted Darrel Medal for the Best Student.

In 1942, offering English, Latin and History, he passed with an Upper Second for his Bachelor’s Degree.

His school career was tempered by the inspiring influence of Principals like the Rev. Alex Sneath, Rev. John Dalby and, my own paternal uncle, E. R. de Silva.

As would be the norm at that time, his parents wanted him to be Lawyer or Civil Servant. He would have excelled in both but he gave vent to his love for teaching. He loved to share knowledge.

And so he packed bag and baggage and off he went to Rakwana to his first-ever teaching assignment at St. Anthony's School, Rakwana.

As fate would have it, he contracted cerebral malaria there and had to leave.

He then came down to Colombo and served for a short spell at St Peter's College where he taught English and History in the HSC and SSC forms.

1947 saw Richmond College proudly welcome one her illustrious products as Vice Principal. He was an engaging and hands-on teacher whose favourite subjects were Christianity, English, History and Mathematics.

Five years later 1952, he was awarded a scholarship and left for Birmingham, UK where he read for his MA in Education. Shelton Wirasinha was a brilliant student and won coveted George Cadbury Prize for the Best Student of the Year.

Returning down South to hometown Galle, he assumed duties as Principal of Richmond. This was his crowning glory. The simple, modest and unassuming man that he was, he easily connected with the Richmondites and won their love, respect and admiration

He was also known for his very unconventional methods of teaching. Richmondites loved the ‘Moonlight Walks on the Galle Ramparts with the sounds of the sea thrashing on the old fortifications ringing in their ears. They loved the cycling trips away from the school uniforms and the enclosed classrooms. He knew how to use these methods, and to make them a learning process.

When public announcement of this Oration was made, a Richmondite wrote on my Face Book wall how he remembered Principal Shelton Wirasinha driving down Richmond Hill in the pouring rain in his Holden car, collecting the boys and bringing them up to school in the car in several trips. Shelton Wirasinha did not have to do this – but he did. These were the acts of selflessness that Richmondites still speak of even 60, 70 years later.

To the Richmondites, Shelton Wirasinha was also the Principal who spent his evenings on the playing fields in a pair of billowing old khaki shorts of 1931 vintage.

A Richmondite had once written thus : “"Looking at that picture which hangs on the wall, who would have thought that the rather gawky lad with a huge nose and large spectacles would turn out to be this man .... it is not just enough to hear of Shelton, you must see him in his many dimensional glory”.

Then came 1961 and it was time for him to leave Richmond and take over the reins at Wesley.

Kenneth M. de Lanerole wrote thus in The Double Blue (1975-1985) :

“After the harsh and ill-conceived take-over of schools in the sixties, he left Richmond to become the Principal of Wesley College. At Richmond while keeping the traditions of Darrel, Small and ER de Silva (his guru), Shelton left on the school the peculiar stamp of his wide interests and engaging personality. Wesley on the other hand gave him an even wider empire where Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, under his benevolent rule, enjoyed equal privileges and lived as brothers”.


Wesley College 1961-1983


It was mid-December 1961. The unmistakable Christmas chill was in the air. The wind howled through the cypress trees at Karlsruhe, geographically the highest point in Colombo as the Wirasinhas drove up the drive to the 101 year old Karlsruhe House (built by Charles Ambrose Lorensz) which solemnly awaited its new occupants – Shelton, Manel and the three year old Dushy.

He was to preside over the destiny of Wesley and charter its course for 21 years. It earned him the title – Bard of the Wesley Manor – which I think suited him perfectly. He was with no doubt THE quintessential Bard of the Wesley Manor.

He goes on record as having said thus : “Revd Fred Silva put the challenge to me to head a non-fee levying school and I took up this very difficult assignment in 1962”.

A month later at 5pm on Monday 15 January 1962, on this very stage, in the presence of Revds. Fred Silva and WJT Small, Shelton Wirasinha was inducted as Wesley’s 15th Principal.

These were his very words at his Induction :

“This is the moment of rededication in my life. It is my hope and prayer that this school will be allowed to function by the State in an atmosphere of freedom. Education does not end with the gaining of jobs. It is much more than that. Education is the training and disciplining of the entire person”

Those last three lines were to be his mantra and a recurring theme over the next 21 years - Education does not end with the gaining of jobs. It is much more than that. Education is the training and disciplining of the entire person”


Dark / Bleak period:

I don’t know whether or not he really knew what he was walking into when he accepted this position at Wesley College BUT this was one of the darkest and bleakest periods in Wesley’s history. It was a difficult and challenging assignment.

Wesley College was a non-fee levying school. The boys paid a pittance called facilities fees which amounted to almost nothing. The Management ambitiously believed it could run on donations alone. This was a very tough time financially. Bills had to be paid. The staff had to be paid.

Wesley had to make a difficult choice – either go over to the government, or remain as a private non-fee levying school. Mercifully Wesley chose the latter. Shelton Wirasinha worked very hard. He steadfastly pushed for state support to pay staff salaries. And mercifully he was successful.

In that sense, Wesley blessed to have a Principal of his calibre with his multi-faceted personality, foresight, vision, inspiration and commitment


Early recollections

My early recollections go back to 1968, to Grade 01. There was this big burly man striding in military precision through the corridors which boomed with his stentorian tone. We were petrified of him and fled when we saw him. ‘Plincipal’  was only to be seen from a great distance and never from close quarters.

I remember our Grade 01 class teacher was the exquisite Norma de Silva. And then in Grade 02 we had Nirmali de Silva, who was distantly related to me. Her Father, I learnt, was the President of the Methodist Church.

We loved her to bits and worshipped the ground on which she walked. I remember writing to Santa Claus at the end of that Grade 02 year and asking that she be made our Grade 03 class teacher too. Lo and behold my wish was granted.

Towards the end of Grade 03 we heard that the Grade 04 class teacher was going to be a Miss Mary Masilamoni. Now this Miss Mary M. had a persistent reputation of having to buy new umbrellas very often since her umbrellas broke. And how did they break ? They broke because she used to use them to whack the buttocks of ‘naughty’ boys. We shuddered at the thought.

And so summoning all the courage a seven-year old could have, I trotted to the Plincipal’s office and meekly asked him, “Sir can we please have Nirmali Teacher for Grade 04 and NOT Miss Mary M?”.

I expected him to explode in rage. He didn’t. He simply beamed, then laughed and said, “We’ll see Putha”. I wish I had written to Santa and not gone to the ‘Plincipal’. Grade 04 arrived and there she was Miss Mary M. our class teacher together with her Umbrella et al.


ASW – the Teacher of English


My fear of him gradually subsided and I went into the higher classes.

The NCGE (National Certificate of General Education) was my first big public exam. It replaced the OLs. This was the then Education Minister Badudin Mohamed’s very ill-conceived and mercifully short-lived brain child. We were the guinea pigs.

Instead of ALs was the HNCE (Higher National Certificate of Education). After 02 years of the HNCE, it was scrapped and AL brought in again

I was thus in the AL class for FOUR years. In the last two of my four years of studying for the ALs, I was the only one in class offering English and French and German.

I was first in class. I was last in class. If I cut classes or cut school, I got caught. I was like the proverbial arecanut … caught in the nutcracker.

Shelton Wirasinha’s forte was Literature - Drama, Prose and Poetry. My English periods with him were the two before the interval. His office is what is now the Principal’s Secretary’s office. There was no air-conditioning and so the doors were wide open. He always sat by the door and backed the College Office. I always sat with my chair half in the doorway and backed the office. No one saw our faces.

There was neither television nor internet at that time. The world wide web was something beyond comprehension but my English lessons were always a fabulous audio visual experience.

Shelton Wirasinha got passionately and deeply involved in his literature. He loved his literature and poetry. He had this fascinating capacity of bringing characters to life. He almost made them tangible, living, breathing human beings.

And so with Leonard Woolf we went through the deep and evil forest that surrounded the village of Beddegama …. We shared in Silindu’s and Babun’s fear and incomprehension in the dock in the Hambantota Court House as the white judge spoke in English … With William Wordsworth

we wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills … With Walter de la Mare we held our breath and observed – Slowly, silently, now the moon, Walks the night in her silver shoon; This way, and that, she peers, and sees, Silver fruit upon silver trees; … With John Keats we saw Autumn sitting careless on a granary floor, her hair soft lifted by the winnowing wind”…and with William Shakespeare we helplessly we saw the Othello the Moor “put out the light put out the light”.

I remember he used to get into an absolute rage when portraying the moments as Iago poisons Othello’s mind … his voice rising in a crescendo, almost screaming, he would ‘become’ the enraged Othello.

There I was enjoying the performance while the entire office went dead silent, staff stopped work and stared, open mouthed – they thought I was getting blasted to smithereens by the Principal. No I wasn’t. Such were English lessons with Shelton Wirasinha. To him it was sharing of knowledge and not teaching it.



He was so passionately and deeply engrossed that he never heard the interval bell ring. I heard boys playing and shouting outside. He was so engrossed and so he never heard. How on earth could I say “Sir, Now Stop !!!” Even as an AL student I dared not.

Manel Wirasinha used to send chilled thambili in a tall tumbler. I think he was embarassed to drink it alone and so I often got half. On bonus days she would send fresh orange juice. There again I got half.

Mercifully he did hear the bell at the end of the interval. I used to say, “Sir the interval is over and I’m not allowed to go to the tuck shop. The prefects will pull me up”.

Back came the reply, “Follow me Putha. I am the Principal”. And so I trotted behind him to tuck shop which was run by his cousin Sirimal Wijesinghe whose sons Ajith, Ransiri and Sanjeev were also at Wesley.

The prefects, obnoxious as they were, took great delight in pulling me up. I had the perfect cover. Cockily I would say – “Ask the Principal”. They dared not.

Fairplay by all students


ASW never bore grudges and never unfairly penalised students. If he did, I would have been the first.

He had taught my Father Justin de Silva at Richmond College Galle, and then many years later my Father then served under him here at Wesley College.

Being a Southerner from Ambalangoda, Daddy’s temper wasn’t the mildest at most times. I, his son, was greatly embarrassed at most times. His colleagues from the staff present here would know it very well.

Daddy was one of Shelton Wirasinha’s harshest critics. They often clashed at staff meetings. But never did ASW take it out on me or penalise me 

Then there was the venerable Old Boy Shelton Peries spoke his mind out at Governing Board Meetings. At times he too clashed with Shelton Wirasinha and argued on principle. It was referred to as ‘The Battle of the Sheltons’. It was done in the most gentlemanly and dignified manner and when they came out of the meeting – all was forgotten. Peter Peries says that never ever was he penalised for being Shelton Peries’ son.


Assemblies and Pronunciation

Shelton Wirasinha was particular about his pronunciation which went beyond being meticulous. His articulation was sound perfect and he made the correct stress on the correct vowel, the correct syllable.

Pronouncing the ‘V’ and ‘W’ were important to him. He often said, “You talk to a FACE, not to hair or hands or feet”.

Listening to him talk was like listening to a surgeon’s scalpel poetically sliding through a slab of frozen butter ………….. You the reader can figure that out !

When we saw him walking down the corridor we knew we were in for a treat at Assembly. He was a grand raconteur, a story teller with a storehouse of stories and tales. He fired our imagination and there were lessons to be learnt


Spelling W-i-r-a-s-i-n-h-a

Shelton Wirasinha was neither fussy nor demanding but there was one thing that irked him a lot and that was when his name was mis-spelt. He would actually get very, very cross. It has to be spelt as W-I-R-A-S-I-N-H-A.


Golden Era of Culture and the Arts

Shelton Wirasinha’s era at Wesley was also the Golden Era of Culture and the Arts. During his time, on the staff were great names such as Jayantha Premachandra the international award winning artist, Basil Mihiripenne the celebrated oriental dancer and teacher of great acclaim, Felix Premawardena the dramatist and actor, and, Haig Karunaratne the dramatist and choir master par excellence. They were the Stars of Wesley. We were the little fireflies. In later years were teachers like Gamini Samarakoon and Mr. Nagahawatte to name a few

He also got involved in directing plays for end of year concerts. The choir was primarily Haig Karunaratne’s domain which Shelton Wirasinha never invaded. He got very very marginally involved in the choir and left it all to Mr. Karunaratne.

During Shelton Wirasinha’s time, culture and the arts at Wesley were not only of the English ‘kultur’ kind. Oriental Ballet, Sinhala Drama and Tamil Drama were also nurtured. There was also once the 17th century French playright Moliere in Sinhala.

Shelton Wirasinha encouraged boys to excel in what they did, and they did.

Peter Peries, was given special permission and three months leave to act in ‘The Great Alligator’ alongside Hollywood super star Barbara Bach and directed by Sergio Martino.

My batchmate the 16 year old Kamal Addararachchi, was given permission to act in a play called ‘Aney Ablik’ directed by the German Prof. Norbert Mayer in 1978.

The following year he gave Kamal permission again to act in ‘Sagarayak Meda’ directed by Gamini Fonseka. Kamal recalls thus, “That time I was only 17 years. He gave me his total consent and blessings and encouraged me which even my own Father couldn’t do”


Prize Day – Founder’s Day

He was very fastidious and paid great attention to detail. Everything had to be perfect. He chose the music with great care. There were two hymns which were close to his heart. One was “I vow to Thee my Country” which he played on every Founder’s Day morning as the procession of flags entered the Hall to begin the service. This is a British hymn (patriotic song), created in 1921, when a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice was set to music by Gustav Holst. The other was “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah

Listening to these two hymns takes me back to my childhood. Hence my special request to the Wesley College Choir to sing these two hymns this evening as we celebrate the life and times of Shelton Wirasinha

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child


Shelton Wirasinha was both lenient and tough. The largesse of his heart was legendary, but if a student stepped out of line, well then he had to be corrected.

In those days … the 1970s and into the 1980s you did NOT spare the rod and spoil the child. You used the cane and corrected the child instead.

I can still hear the occasional whoosh and the swish of the cane in the Principal’s / Vice Principal’s office and the Head Master Wilfred Wickremasinghe and others, who walked along the corridors, cane in hand, just in case.

Much traffic has passed along Baseline Road since that era and now the cane is taboo.

Project Work

Once in a Prize Day report he said thus : “The academic straight-jackets that students are compelled to wear must be removed and much greater stress laid upon the training of skills if education is to be more meaningful for the many and support the growing needs of a developing country like Sri Lanka”.

It was possibly with this in mind that the boys of Wesley were exposed to Project work with the Poor, and the Prisons, as extra-curricular work activities of the seniors

There were also projects such as the Nutrition and Health study, Mass Communication with special reference to film as a medium, Radio Technology and Marketing Surveys. There was also the Wesley School of Technology headed by Mr. Warnakulasooriya which taught Motor Mechanism, Radio Technology, Electro Technology and Photography

Beyond State Curriculum

The American Educator - Charles Kendall Adams said : “No student ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him: it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction”.

Shelton Wirasinha wanted his students to go beyond the state curriculum, and so he brought in other books, other texts and other sources of information to expose his flock to a 361º experience. We were richer by the experience.


In as much as he lent his patronage to culture and the arts at Wesley College, sports was his parallel passion. This was no surprise, given his brilliant sporting record at Richmond College. It was his belief and conviction that sports was critical in making the perfect man. And he was correct.

As I mentioned earlier, to the Richmondites, he was also the Principal who spent his evenings on the playing fields in a pair of billowing old khaki shorts of 1931vintage. To us Wesleyites he was the side-parted, be-spectacled, bush-shirted man who was seen coaching our cricketers at Campbell Park.

Jeremy Brohier recalls how very gently and persuasively ASW coached the boys. He had patience, great patience.

Shelton Wirasinha often said, “You have to push yet gently and persuasively. You cannot rush a sport. It’s like planting a seed, watering it, manuring it, caring for it and watching it grow”.

He also rejoiced in the successes of his students. For example when 18 year old Navin de Silva selected by Sri Lanka Cricket Association to lead the first ever U-19 Sri Lanka School Boys Cricket Team to England with his team consisting of players such as Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Romesh Kaluwitharana etc, Shelton Wirasinha was over the moon.

Mahendra Dissanayake recalls how awesome it felt to have the Principal himself coach you in person. It made a great difference to young impressionable minds.


The charming, dusky damsel who inhabited Karlsruhe House, Dushy Wirasinha, must have been a lucky young lady. She had hundreds of brothers and they were all Wesleyites. He called us ‘Putha’. He knew a large, large number of boys by their first names. It was an individual bond he created with all of us. His simplicity and modesty earned for him the love and respect of his students.

Vadai at Galle Face

Shelton Wirasinha also had a life away from the Principal’s Office and Wesley College. The man had the right to. And so the BA Fernandos and the VS Fernandos and the Wirasinhas often got into their respective cars and drove to the Galle Face Green. There they laid mats on the green and indulged in their ulundu and masala vadai treats. He loved vadai and this was not to the liking of Manel Wirasinha. She was in the minority and was thus out-numbered. And so she compromised and insisted that the drinking water was always thoroughly boiled and brought from home

Multi Tasker

He worked hard and long on the National Christian Council and served in the honorary capacity as Chairman of the Broadcasting Committee. As Principal, he also multi-tasked a lot with his calm and collected disposition. He successfully combined both administrative work and teaching duties. The man was accountable to his Conscience and to his God. He lived by example. He was both a Tee-totaller and a non-smoker.

Gladys Manel Dunuwille

To talk of Shelton Wirasinha is also to talk of his wife Manel, Gladys Manel Dunwille, one of the five extremely talented Dunuwille girls.

If Shelton Wirasinha was the Bard of the Wesley Manor, then Manel was the Empress of Karlsruhe. The Bungalow and the Lawn were her realm, and there she reigned supreme in all her glory.

She made it her personal vocation to maintain Karlsruhe House like a jewel.

Built around 1860 by Charles Ambrose Lorenz, this is a heritage building and the Jewel in Wesley’s Crown.

Charles Ambrose Lorenz was one of the most outstanding members of the Burgher community during the 19th century and a member of the Legislative Council. He is was credited with being the architect of the currency ordinance which enacted that Ceylon should switch from the British currency to its own of rupees and for coining the term ‘Ceylonese’.

Charles Ambrose Lorenz was a man of means and had many homes in his life time of 42 years. There were ‘Rose Cottage’ on the right bank of the Nilwala in Matara his birthplace, ‘Lodge Harmony’ the more spacious two storeyed house also in Matara, ‘Teak Bungalow’ in Kalutara commanding a beautiful view of the river and sea, the waters’ meet, ‘Gatherum’ near St. Paul’s Kynsey Road, Maradana which had the seclusion of a house in the heart of a forest and ‘Elie House’, in Mutwal.

Karlsruhe was his last home – Charles Rest in German – that’s where he died. Lorenz was in not in the best of health when he acquired the land and built on it a spacious house. Came into residence early in 1871, but "Karlsruhe" was his home only for a few months. He passed away on 09th August the same year at 42 years with a fair fortune and no children.

"Karlsruhe" was gifted to Eliza La Brooy, the constant companion and friend of Mrs. Lorenz.

An interesting feature in the house is the historic satinwood screen with a background in the traditional acanthus pattern separating the drawing room from the dining room. The letter ‘L' for Lorenz appears in one of the panels, while the other panel bears the letter ‘K’ for Karlsruhe.

Generations of boys knew those polished verandah floors where one can literally see one’s face. We weren’t allowed to walk on those polished floors. Those who had to, had also to remove their shoes. Even Shelton Wirasinha !!!

Few years ago when Dr. Shanthi McLelland was Principal, with his permission I took great and vicarious pleasure in walking up and down the verandah with my dusty shoes on. I was reliving a childhood fantasy. Believe me I could almost feel Mrs .Wirasinha glaring at me.

The day before Prize Day, it was a treat to see the trophies and cups and shields all polished and gleaming on the verandah.

Although out of bounds to lesser mortals like us students, the Bungalow was a veritable cultural oasis. Shelton, Manel and Dushy their daughter shared in their love for music. Mrs. Wirasinha was a double gold medallist of both the Royal and Trinity Schools of Music London. Dushy also played the piano. And so that old Marshall and Rose piano made beautiful music, it sang. It sang happily, it sang dolefully, it sang in different moods and genres.

And the music of the masters - Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Debussy, Bach, Haydn - literally poured out of the Bungalow, over the verandah, across the drive and into Wesley College.

To those of us who appreciated it – it was bliss. “It was like going to Heaven and back”, says Mrs. BA Fernando.

Post Wesley College

Shelton Wirasinha served Wesley from 1961 to 1983 and then it was time to go. They had to leave the majestic Karlsruhe House. The Wirasinhas were not from the landed gentry.


I don’t think that even he wasn’t aware … but over 21 years Mrs. Wirasinha had scrupulously saved sufficient money to invest in a house. She told me so. They moved to Nawala, to a much smaller house than Karslruhe but they were comfortable there.

We were then delighted to see him on television as Quiz Master of the Dulux Do You Know Competitions.

I visited him often during that period. I was then an undergraduate at the University of Kelaniya, reading English and French for the Hons. Degree. Just like it was at Wesley, his library was still open to me

He had taken to private tuition to supplement the family income. Some of the AL texts were modern texts with modern African poets such as Gabriel Okara. Shelton Wirasinha wasn’t too familiar with them and so he got me to teach him so he could teach his students in turn. Such was his humility !

As I lay dying

The very last time I visited him was one week before his death in November 1985. He had had hepatitis and was on slow road to recovery. I found him reading a book called ‘As I Lay Dying’, a 1930 novel by the American author William Faulkner. Whether this was a premonition or not, I don’t know.

It tells the harrowing account of a family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, the wife and mother. The story is told in turns by each of the family members, including Addie herself with the novel ranging in mood from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.

He told me, “Putha get this book from the American Centre and read it. They have extra copies”. I borrowed book the very next morning, hoping to read it that night. That evening, 13th November 1985, I learnt that he was dead, eleven days before his 62nd birthday. I did not open that book. Even to this day I have not read it.

Nineteen years after his demise, the foundation stone for the Shelton Wirasinha Memorial Building was laid by Revd. Noel Fernando, President of the Methodist Church on 02 March 2004. It was declared open exactly a year later, Founder’s Day, by Manel Wirasinha.

And so Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope I was able to bring that old sepia photograph back to life and in this short space of time, recreate the living, breathing, multi-dimensional human being I knew him to be and a lot of us knew him to be.

And now that old photograph goes back to hang on that wall and occupy its rightful place in the history of Wesley College as we journey to a glorious 150 years in 2024.

Permit me to close, quoting his words from one of his Wesley College Prize Day Reports

““We need as a nation to labour on with a new sense of vision and a new hope. The words of Albert Camus come to mind:

Don’t walk in front of me I may not follow

Don’t walk behind me I may not lead,

Walk beside me and just be my friend”

It is in this spirit of comradeship that we as a nation need to march forward.

It will be the concern of Wesley to help her sons to tread this path, willing to share and willing to sacrifice, to meet the challenge of the future with integrity, putting our whole trust in God and his purposes for this country and this nation” - Arthur Shelton Wirasinha


Kumar de Silva


Mr. Kumar De Silva
Mr. A.S. Wirasinha