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History of Scouting at Richmond College

All activities of schools in Sri Lanka during 1870 were limited to the class room. The following decade of 1880 has been considered as the period during which extra-curricular activities like Cricket, Swimming and Athletics were introduced to the schools in the country. Games like Cricket, Swimming, Athletics and other activities like English Literature Society and Cadetting  had been started at Richmond even before end of the decade. Richmond College was among the first six schools of Sri Lanka to start a Cadet Platoon in 1902.

Scouts movement that was started by Baden Powell in 1907 was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1912 and the first Scouts Troop was formed in Christ Church Boys’ School Matale. According to 1913 Richmond Magazine  Scouting activities were introduced to  Richmond Cadets of 12 to 16 years.

On 26th of July 1915, Scout Commissioner of Sri Lanka Mr F.G Stevenson delivered a lecture titled “ Scouting and it’s capabilities” in the main hall of Richmond College. Principal  Rev. W.J.T Small, Scout Commissioner Mr F.G Stevenson and several  teachers of the college, Mr F.R.A.S Amarasekara, Mr J.V Mendis and  Mr A.F De S Adihetti gathered in the main hall soon after the lecture and decided to start Scouting at Richmond College. Mr F.R.A.S Amarasekara was appointed as the first scout master of Richmond College.But after his sudden demise on 15th September 1915 Mr J.V Mendis continued with the responsibility. Richmond College Scout Troop was registered at the Scouts’ Headquarters in London on 15th October 1915 as 2nd Galle Richmond Scouts Troop.

First membership badge examination was conducted on 26th October 1915 by the Galle District Commissioner and The Scout Master of Mahinda College  Mr F. Gordon Pears.  70 students succeeded in getting the scout membership.

In 1915 3rd Galle Richmond Scouts Troop was formed in addition to the 2nd Galle Richmond Troop. Same year petrol leaders were appointed for the first time in the college. T.U De Silva, S. Wijesuriya, D.M Rajapaksha, M.D.S Jayawardene, C.M.W Gunawardene, Austin De Silva, T.C Abeygunawardene, Graham Wickramasekara, and Walter Davis were the first scouts to be appointed as petrol leaders.

J.V.Mendis
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Mr J.V Mendis

Establishment of first Scouts’ Den in Sri Lanka

A scout's den made up of timber and cadjan was put up by Richmond Scouts on 11th December 1915 which received the greetings of Baden Powell.

First King's  Scouts  of Sri Lanka

Richmond produced two King's  Scouts in early 1916 for the first time in Sri Lanka. They were T.U De Silva and S. Wijesuriya. These two King's Scouts brought honour not only to Richmond but to the whole country by winning the Gold  Cord and The Secondary Grade Cord which are awarded  only to King's Scouts.

First Cub  Scouts (Wolf Cubs)  of Sri Lanka

Concurrently with the formation of Cub Scouts in the world, first Cub Pack of Sri Lanka was formed at Richmond College in 1916. Mr S.C Wickramarathne and Mr T.C.P Fernando were the first Cub Scout Master and Assistant Cub Scout Master respectively. First cub scouts pack was made up of 50 cub scouts. First cub scout camp was held on 24th June 1916.

First Scout Magazine of Sri Lanka

“Richmond Scouts” the first scout magazine was published in May 1916. 5 magazines were published  during 1916-1917 period. Richmond Scout master Mr J.V Mendis was the editor of the magazine.

Introduction of Scout Movement to Ambalangoda and the Northern part of Sri lanka

Richmond Scout master was instrumental in introducing Scouting to Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda and Wesly College after a workshop held on 14th August 1916.
Mr J .V Mendis, and four  scouts T.U De Silva, S.Wijesuriya, Upali Amarasinghe and E.P Mendis left to Jaffna by train on 31st August 1916 to introduce scouting to the Northern part of Sri Lanka. The team of scouts led by Mr J.V Mendis spent four days  conducting several workshops on Scout movement and  succeeded in establishing scouting at St.Johns College, St.Patrick College, Hindu College and Jaffna Central College.Mr J.V Mendis  was presented with the highest award in Scouting “ The Silver Wolf” in 1917 for his commitment towards introducing Scouting in Jaffna.

Baden Powell Merit  Award

In recognition of the yeoman service to Scouting in Sri Lanka, The Scouts Headquarters of Great Britain awarded six merit awards in 1917 for the first time. Out of the six merit awards Richmond Scouts were awarded with three. The recipients were  Scouts Master Mr J.V Mendis and Petrol Leaders T.U De Silva and S.Wijesuriya. Further two scouts, Upali Amarasinghe and E.P Mendis were awarded with merit certificates. These awards were won by Richmond Scouts specially for the initiative taken to start scouting in Jaffna peninsula.

Richmond Club House

Richmond Club House which was put up in 1917 is the oldest club house in Sri Lanka. Designed by Mr J.V Mendis this hexagonal building was constructed according to the Kandyan architecture. Required funds were donated by Muhandiram  F.A Wickramasinghe. Club house was ceremonially handed over to the scouts by then Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Mr Anton Bertrum on 27th October 1917.

Mr J.V Mendis appointed as the Scouts Commissioner of Madras

 Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Mr Anton Bertrum who was the Chief Guest of the annual prize giving of 1917 mentioned during his speech that with the invitation of The Indian Government  Sri Lankan Government has decided to help India to start Scouting there.  He further mentioned that the government has decided to appoint Mr J.V Mendis, the scouts master of Richmond College to accomplish this task. Everybody present was surprised to hear this decision and also were very happy.
Accordingly Mr J.V Mendis was appointed as the Scout Commissioner to Madras in 1918.

Youngest King’s Scout in  British Kingdom

In 1918 Richmond produced 37 King’s Scouts for the third time in the history. 16 of them won the first class cord. Among them were past principal of Richmond Mr E.R De Silva, former director of education Mr S.F De Silva and Prof. E.F.C Ludowyk(Lyn Ludowyk) the creator of a modern English Theatre in Sri Lanka..
Mr E.F.C Ludowyk was just 13 years when he won the King’s Scout award becoming the youngest ever King’s Scout in the British Kingdom.

History of Richmond Scouting after 1918 in brief

  • Rover Scout crew was started in 1926
  • Scout Council was established in 1937. The council was made of  former scout masters of the college. Mr A.W Dissanayake and Mr A. Asirwadan  were the first president and the first secretary respectively. Deputy principal Mr R.J Seal and Mrs Seal, Major F.A De S Adihetti and Mr R.S Wickramasinghe were the members of the first council.
  • Richmond Scouts won the Island Merit Flag awarded to the best scout group in the country in 1946,1962 and 1989.
  • “Gulam Hussain Flag” which is awarded to the Scouts Group having most number of King’s Scouts and Queen’s Scouts was won by Richmond College continuously from 1958 to 1963.
  • Richmond Scout Group won the “Denham Shield” in 1918, 1919, 1962 and  1992 which is awarded for the best community project.
  • “Sir Henry Caldicott Bowl” which is awarded to the scout group making the highest income during scout job week was won by Richmond Scouts continuously from 1986 to 1989.
  • Richmond scouts won the “ National Scouts Week” award in 1990.
  • Brownie Pack for girls was started at Richmond in 1946 as “6th Galle Brownie Pack”.  Miss Kamala Nanayakkara was in charge of the pack which consisted  23 members. The Brownie Pack was dissolved in 1948.
  • Rover Scout Crew was re-organised after a long silence in 1971. Rover Scout camp was started in 1974. Baden Powell award was won  by Rover Scouts Meththananda Arambawela and S.S Kodituwakku in 1980.
  • Golden Jubilee of Richmond Scouts was held from 03rd to 06th February 1965. Jubilee Jamboree was held with the participation of 23 scout groups from outstation. Altogether  around 600 scouts participated the Jamboree. Former Scouts Master Mr J.V Mendis graced the occasion as the chief guest.
  • Richmond celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Scouting in 1980 led by Group Scout Master Mr D.K Ponnamperuma. The Platinum Jubilee was celebrated in 1990 at the college premises with the participation of over thousand scouts from 02nd to 07th October.
  • 3rd National Coboree was held in 1986 at the College premises.
  • Involvement of all students and teachers of grade 3,4 and 5 in 1986 in cub scouting with the instructions and guidance of principal Mr B.Sooriarachchi brought cub scouting to new heights.
  • Richmond Old Scouts Solidarity was formed on 15th September 2002 with the participation of 56 old scouts. Mr Meththananda Arambawela and Mr Aruna Weerasekara were instrumental in forming the union.
  • After a long hibernation from 2004 to 2006 Richmond scouting was re-organised with the guidance and leadership of Principal Lt.Col. G.V.S.B Shanthasiri.
  • 90 years old Scouts Den “The Club House” was repaired and refurbished preserving its original architecture during 2007-2010 with the instructions of principal Lt.Col. G.V.S.B Shanthasiri and principal Mr E.M.S Ekanayake  and the initiative was taken by Richmond College Old Boys’ Association. Old Boys, Old Scouts and the D.A Rajapaksha Foundation made financial contributions.
  • Distinguished old boy Mudliar J.S De S Jayawardene had donated “Rajaskanda Estate” to Richmond through a trust. Annual camp of Richmond Scouts is being held at this estate since 1950. Richmond College Old Boys’ Association took the initiative to provide a permanent camping site in the estate and the camping site was further developed by RCOBA in 2013.
  • Ceremony was held on 27th July 2014 to mark 99 years in scouting and the dawn of the centenary which was graced by Hon. Speaker and distinguished old boy Chamal Rajapaksha as the chief guest .