Richmond College Old Boys’ Association-1894 to 1976
The Richmond College Old Boys’ Association was very auspiciously inaugurated on the 4th December, 1894, and the first ex-officio President of the Association was the Principal, Rev. Horatius Hartley. Being founded on the 1st May 1876, the College was eighteen years old then. This event was the result of a resolution moved by Mr. W. L. Faber and seconded by Mr. H.S. Abayawardena, and was enthusiastically accepted by all who were present. Mr. C.C. de Silva was the first Honorary Secretary of this Association.The original Constitution was adopted at the Annual General Meeting held in 1895.
Very soon the responsibility for the Associaon fell on the able shoulders of Rev. J.H. Darrrel who succeeded Rev. Hartley on the 11th September 1896. Rev. Darrell put new life into this young Association and made it a living force, the energy of which is felt strongly even today.The photograph of the Rev. George Baugh, the founder of the college, was unveiled in the College Hall during this period.
In 1904 Mr.G.R. Siriwardena was elected as secretary and Mr. George Amarasinghe assistant secretary. The Association took over the responsibility of conducting the Inter House Sports meet of the College from this year. The Prize endowment Fund was started in 1905. This period of lively activity came to a very unexpected end when the President Rev. Darrell, passed away at the very early age of thirty five, on the 12th May, 1906. Rev. Darrell’s period of ten years at the helm of activities put Richmond on the map among the leading Schools of the country. He lined for himself the lasting affection of all those who knew him, and even in this today,we hear this name mentioned with affection and respect.
Rev. W.J.T. Small took over after Rev. Darrell on the 16th November, 1906. Taking over the wake of such a tragedy which had seriously disorganised everything. Rev. Small worked full time, even without a clerk, to restore order. His example in character and principles was as important as the devotion to duty that he brought into Richmond.
The Colombo Branch of the R.C.O.B.A. was founded in 1916 and this branch has since been a very active supporter of the parent body.
Rev. A.A. Sneath took over from Rev. Small and the earlier build up of the Association began to bear fruit during his period. The Golden Jubilee of the School in 1926 and the Diamond Jubilee in 1936 were two very important events of his period. The Constitution of the Association was revised in 1934. The Golden Jubilee Fund and the buildings that came up as a result stand to the credit of the Old Boys of this period, and we should record here with gratitude the name of the very energetic Secretary of the Association of this period, Mr. E.M. Karunaratna. Another fund was floated in 1935 in view of the Diamond Jubilee and the Sneath Playing Field became a reality when it was declared open by Mr. E.M. Karunaratna on 23rd July, 1937.
After seventeen very crowded years of activity Rev. A.A. Sneath retired and handed over to Rev. J. Dalby on the 12th February, 1939. Rev. Dalby stayed in office only for one year, and the charge of the school was handed over to Mr. E.R. de Silva on the 29th March, 1940.
Mr. E.R de Silva was the first Ceylonese, and the first layman, to take charge of the school and in him we found the first old boy at the helm of activities. He came in at a time of national stress when a world war was going on. The problems he had to face during the war days were numerous. However, he took the school through to success and proved no second to his very illustrious predecessors. His greatest job was to go ahead with the building programme sponsored by the O.B.A. for the Golden Jubilee of the Association and this he did with remarkable success. During this period the O.B.A. was able to help the College with the addition of a Biology Laboratory, a Reading Room, a Staff Common Room, and an Audio visual Room, a workshop, five classrooms and the Kindergarten Block. Amidst all this Mr. E.R. de Silva developed the educational and extra curricular aspects of the school too. With all this new work he never allowed the tone and character of the school to suffer. The energy and the enthusiasm of the Treasurer, Major F.A. de S. Adhihetty made him a power of strength behind Mr. E.R. de Silva. The changes in the educational policy of the state were implemented by Richmond and the entry of the College into the Free Education Scheme was an important event. Richmond could not have honoured her old boy, Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara, better.
The most important event during the time of Mr. E.R. de Silva was the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the College in 1951 and the return of Rev. W.J.T. Small to Sri Lanka. Mr. E.R. De Silva completed 25 years of service at Richmond College in 1956 and the O.B.A. made him a presentation which was handed over to him by Rev. W.J.T. Small. He retired from service in 1957.
The period of Mr. E.R. De Silva was an epoch of overall development for Richmond. Apart from the buildings he added to the school, the educational upliftment within was remarkable. The establishment of the University of Ceylon and its expansion brought in new demands in the educational set up of the country and Mr. E.R. De Silva must be given the credit for the very thoughtful manner in which he readjusted the set up within Richmond to meet the new demands. The foundation he laid for the new era in education was so solid that Richmond can look back and be proud of this son of hers.
Mr. A.S. Wirasinha took over affairs at Richmond from Mr. E.R. de Silva in 1957 and being a pupil of Mr. E.R. himself, he found no difficulty in continuing the life of the school and did so well. During his period the O.B.A. made a presentation to Mr. W.A. Lanerolle who had completed 25 years at Richmond as a teacher in 1959. The school was vested in the state in February 1961. Mr. Wirasinha had already accepted the call to become Principal of Wesley.
With his retirement and the taking over of Richmond by Government, the burden of the school fell on the shoulders of an “outsider” Mr. D.G. Welikala. He was also the first Buddhist Principal of Richmond.
Referring to him at the General Meeting of the O.B.A. in 1963, the late Mr. A.G.G. Abeywardena said “any outsider coming to Richmond is forced to become part and parcel of it” and Mr. Welikala lived up to these expectations. Mr. Welikala developed Richmond as a Comprehensive school, by adding the Technical and Agricultural departments to it. He celebrated the 90th Anniversary of the school in 1966, having developed the school to an unprecedented degree. The Parakrama statue at the foot of the Hill and the Buddha statue under the Bo Tree at the top of the Hill will stand as two special monuments to him. But his greatest contribution to Richmond was not all this; it was the integration of the “Pin Iskole” or the Sinhalese school with the College. In fact this Sinhalese school was older than the College itself.
Mr. D.G. Welikala was transferred in 1970 and Mr. J. Munasinghe took over for only one and half years so that he did not stay long enough to leave his imprint on it.
In 1973 the responsibility of the College and the O.B.A. fell on the shoulders of an old boy who has had his entire education at Richmond.