30th  November,  2003  Volume 10, Issue 20
















Seventy five years of Rotary...

July 5, 1929 was the date on which the Rotary Club of Colombo was inaugurated at a dinner meeting held at the Galle Face Hotel. The board that year consisted of Col. T. Y. Wright, president, Major H. E. Newham, vice president, A. R. Quarme, treasurer, A. G. Woosnam, honorary secretary, Sir H. Marcus Fernando, J. A. Maartensz, Robert Marrs and J. W. Oldfied.

The club received its charter on December 6, 1929 at a meeting at which the Governor, Sir James and Lady Peiris, Admiral Thesiger, B. H. Bourdillon, chief secretary and Rtn. S. Pararajasingam Although Rtn. Dr. R. I. Spittel was a charter member he was not present on that occasion.

The first district to which Ceylon was attached was No. 89 which covered Afghanistan, Burma, India and Ceylon. At the first Ladies Day meeting held in June, 1930, the club entertained Amy Johnson the aviatrix. The first anniversary of the club was celebrated by a picnic to Labugama.

The community service activities of that year 1931/32 was noteworthy: a pupil was maintained at the Deaf and Blind School costing Rs. 350 and the following donations were made:

Colombo Industrial School Building Rs. 500

• Tec H Rs. 200

• House of Joy Rs. 100

• Colombo Ladies League Hospital Branch Rs. 200

• Pettah Boy’s Club Rs. 300

• Y. M. C. A. Christmas — Treat for poor children Rs. 100

• Treat for poor children Rs. 100

In spite of these gifts there was a favourable balance of Rs. 1,722. Credit balance continued for the next 10 years.

Rtn. Dick Spittel was elected president during the most difficult year 1932-1933. In his reveiew he states: “The outstanding feature of the year was the spate of resignations. It spread like a epidemic, and at one time it almost looked like wrecking the club.” This was due to the depression. However, the year ended with a membership of 78.

In the year of Bishop Carpenter Garnier’s presidentship, 1934-1955, Rtn. President Hill of Rotary International visited the club. Rtn. A. Mamujee and Rtn. P. F. P. Deraniyagala attended the first district conference held in Bombay.

The club anthem was adopted, and the director with Rtn. President Ken Taylor in the chair decided that the tune should be “Wi; Ye No Come Back Again.” The club’s donations to community service activities were besides the usual items such as support to the Deaf and Blind School, gifts to the crippled children’s society, Mallika Home House of Joy, Boy Scouts Association, Hospital Supply Depot, De Soysa Maternity Waiting Wards, Negombo Life Boat Fund and Polish Relief Fund. The Refugee Committee raised Rs. 7,000 and undertook much estimable work.

1940/41 was the year of the most spectacular results. It was the year when Rtn. H. S. Perera was president, Rtn. P. de S Kularatne, secretary and Rtn. R. Doresamy, treasurer the most striking achievement was the London Calling carnival organised by Rtn. A Gardiner with Rtn. K. Vaithiananthan as hony. secretary when Rs. 124,000 was raised for the war effort. The club bulletin was issued in its present form and named Contact at the suggestion of Rtn. Gibbs. Every member was for the first time put into some committee or other. The Colombo Club sponsored two new clubs — Jaffna and Galle.

Rtn. Stewart Orr became president in 1944/45 when Colombo won the Rama Rau Rolling Shield for the Best Club in the District, which was repeatedly won the next four years with the result that the shield was won outright in 1974/1948.

Rtn. Dr J. H. F. Jayasuriya, president 1947/48, was mainly responsible for the club sponsoring the CNAPT at a great meeting at the Colombo Town Hall under the chairmanship of Governor Moore. Another important event was the celebration of Independence Day by a largely attended banquet.

The strength of the Rotary spirit in the club can be judged by no less than 11 instances of fathers and sons maintaining the family tradition of membership. They are S. M. and Ruzly Hassen, Mansoor and Majid Cader, Clarence and Senaka Amarasinghe, Culam and Fjaz Chatoor, Mustan, Shiraz and Yusuf Jeevungee all three of whom were secretaries of the club and each of whom received the best secretary’s award for Sri Lankan Clubs, Cyril and Mike Masilamani, Emmanuel and Amrit Muttukumarana, Fairlie and Lalith Pedris, K. Selvanathan and his son Hari, and Carl and Derek Wijeyeratne both of whom became president of the club. There are also three cases of three generations of the same family being members of the club — H. Esufally, his son Nordi and grandson Abbas, R. A. Nadesan, his son Kumar and grandson Ravi who is the president Elect for 1987/88, and Sir Para, his son Park (both of whom were district governors) and grandson Mario Swaminathan, all three of whom became presidents of the Rotary Club of Colombo. In addition Past President Ismet Macan Marker is the nephew of a Charter Member of the club, Sir Mohamed Macan Markar.

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