A celebration of the 80th anniversary of the founding of S. Thomas’ College at Gurutalawa
A special morning service was held in the Chapel of the Transfiguration at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia to celebrate the bond of unity between STC at Mount Lavinia and STC at Gurutalawa and also to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of STC at Gurutalawa on Wednesday the 22nd of June 2022 at 8.00am.
STC at Gurutalawa was founded in 1942 due to the collective vision of Warden Canon R. S. de Saram and Sub Warden Dr. R. L. Hayman. When the school premises at Mount Lavinia was commandeered by the Military during World War II, it was decided to utilize the Gurutalawa Farm that had been donated to the school earlier that year by a kinsman of Warden de Saram, Mr Leslie de Saram and his wife, to serve as a branch school during the war years and on the 12th of May 1942, the school term commenced at Gurutalawa with 57 students (55 boarders and 2 day boys), Dr Hayman as its first Headmaster and the Rev’d Canon A. J. Foster as first Chaplain. Dr Hayman used the opportunity to set up a unique school modelled on Gordonstoun School in Elgin, Scotland, that included the spartan education and formation. The boys of the school were trained in responsible independence. Even today Guru is reputed for its spartan ethos and remains one of the largest boarding schools in the country.
The Preacher at the service of thanksgiving was the Bishop of Colombo and Visitor to the College, the Rt. Rev’d Dushantha L. Rodrigo, himself a former Chaplain of STC Gurutalawa. The Chaplain of STC Mount Lavinia, the Ven Samuel Ponniah officiated along with the Associate Chaplain, the Rev’d Roshan Mendis. The Headmaster of STC Gurutalawa, the Ven. S. P. Nesakumar led a special Act of Remembrance and Thanksgiving during the Service. The service was attended by some senior students of both schools, members of the Board of Governors, a number of Thomian alumni and also Mr Jacques Huyghebaert who had helped the Board of Governors to keep the school open in 2007 when it had been on the verge of being closed down and transformed it into a viable school that remains so today.
A tribute by Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, one of the pioneering 55 students, who was unable to attend, was read out by the Warden, in which Mr Weerakoon wrote of some of the unique features of an education at Gurutalawa. Mr. Milinda Hettiarachchi paid a tribute to Dr. R. L. Hayman who had done so much to establish and consolidate the school in Gurutalawa, even using his personal wealth at times. He had already by this time contributed much of his wealth to the school at Mount Lavinia including the donation of the Fives Courts, the Swimming Pool and the Thalassa building.
After the conclusion of the service, the annual U17 Cricket match for the Hayman-De Saram Memorial Trophy was played. STC Mount Lavinia was able to win the match. Gurutalawa Day ended with the awards ceremony of the cricket match at which the Headmaster of STC Gurutalawa presented the trophy to the Captain of the winning team