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The 2011 Founders day Oration was delivered by Suren Abeygoonasekara on Jan 11th, 2011, the 61st Anniversary of the Founding of Thurstan College. The theme of his address was the ? Vision for present day Thurstanites? based on his experience as a student at Thurstan and subsequent his working in the Corporate field in Sri Lanka.

This Founder?s day Oration was past few years has been organized by the College 68/69 group whose driving force is Sunil Karunanayake and Suren is also a member of the group.

Some of Suren?s teachers who were present included Mr Mahindapla Samaraweera, Mrs Padma Daulwatta Wijetunga, Mr & Mrs L H C Dissanayake, Mrs Wijepala, Mrs Irene Gunasekara [ wife of the late Principal Mr P S Gunasekara ]. Also present was the daughter of the Late Principal Mr P M Jayatillake, Deepa and her husband R Sanath I de Silva.

The Principal Mr Nihal Yapa introduced Suren and told the audience on his varied achievements in College from being the one of the Head Prefect in 1968, Rugby Player, member of the Cadet Platoon, Tent Steward of the 1st Cricket Big Match in 1968, Editor of the College Magazine and later in life as the 1st Sri Lankan  Chairman of Toyota Lanka limited and now as the President of the YMBA Suren commenced his address on how he entered Thurstan in 1961 when St Benedicts, a Catholic school requested all Buddhist to leave school after the take over of schools by the Government in 1961. The Principal of the time was Mr M D Gunawardane, the 2nd Principal of Thurstan. He was a stern disciplinarian and he recalled that when the Principal left his room on his rounds around college, there was an earthly silence in the class rooms. He taught English in the AL classes and only later that Thurstanites got to know that he was one who prepared the English paper for the AL.

The 3rd Principal was the late Mr P M Jayatillake who unlike Mr Gunawardane developed a close rapport with the students. Suren recalled that when he first addressed the students from this very hall, and when ?Pansil? was being administered by late Vijitha Thero, who later who became the High Priest of Kelaniya Viharaya, the student did not give the piousness that was needed for the occasion, and he had interrupted the priest and had admonished the students to give due cognition for the occasion. The students at once knew that the new Principal meant ?business?. He also recalled Principal Jayatillake saying that before he took appointment he had for one week observed the ?doings? of the Thurstanites from the Thurstan Road. One of the first things that the Principal did to inculcate leadership & responsibility to students. He requested them to pen their thought on manner ?Thurstan could be a better school?. He said that the first time 80% were inappropriate suggestions but as time went on it got gradually got reduced and finally there was 80% good suggestions. Mr Jayatillake thought that it was appropriate that Thurstan should have a big Match & with Col G W Rajapaksa the then Principal of Isipathana they  organized the big match which was played at SSC grounds in 1968. This was the elevation of the traditional school encounter with Isipathana and similarly he elevated the Rugby encounter also. Thus Thurstanites need not get involved with the revelry of a Royal-Thomian match as they themselves had a big match. Perhaps he was the first Principal who told his staff to inculcate discipline and give students responsibility so that they could develop leadership qualities as this will help in help them in life later to become useful personnel in society. This has been proven as many students in his era has climbed the corporate ladder and had succeeded in their chosen fields.

After his retirement, Students in his era used to visit him annually on his birthday and enjoy a sumptuous lunch courtesy of his daughter who is present today. Suren recalled one incident which still lingers in his memory, when the Principal told him to get his priorities correct. He was at that time the Chairman of the Thurstan Rugby Committee which was formed in 1997. In 1998 Thurstan was able to beat Isipathana for the first time after 1963 at the President?s trophy tournament and won many other tournaments and he had gone to meet the Mr Jayatillake as he thought he would be thrilled with the achievements of the Thurstanites as he himself held the batting record at the Battle of the Maroons of 111 runs for Nalanda until it was broken by Bandula Warnapura 40 + years later. He recalled that the Principal gazed straight in to his eyes for some time and said ? Son the first priority of a student is to succeed in studies and pass the examination and not to be trained like a Race horses and succeed in sports?. He said that studies come first followed by sports and not vice versa. This is lesson that he learned to ? get the priorities right? which helped him immensely later in life.

He also said that any student who trampled the soil of this hallowed institution has ? Thurstan at his heart?. He remembered that In 1979 the then President late Mr J R Jayawardana a Royalist thought to annex Thurstan to expand Royal, it was the strong protest made by the Old Boy?s that saved this project as there were many parents who liked the idea as then their son?s will be student of ? Royal? and the staff members who would also be in the ?staff of Royal?. He said that he will be failing if he did not mention what the Secretary of the OBU at that time Asoka Wedage said if the President went a head with this project he will set himself on fire opposite the residence of the President at Ward Place.

He said that the ?heart and the strength of a school is the Old Boys? as they are the only stake holders who a lifelong attachment to the College as the ?Principals and staff come and go?. He hoped that the students in this audience should remember this.
He said that after few years? studies in England, he worked for some time in Sri Lanka and then in Singapore and came back and joined Ms Freudenbergs Ltd, then the agent for Toyota in Sri Lanka. Then the market share for Toyota in Sri Lanka was only 8%. He was able to rise quickly in the Management hierarchy and became the first Sri Lankan to be the Chairman of Toyota Sri Lanka and also become the Market leader in vehicles in Sri Lanka. He said that this was possible due to the leadership training and accountability for any action he received at Thurstan and the subsequent guidance he received by Mr Jayatillake and Japanese gentleman at Toyota.

He recalled that once he was in transit in Singapore and was listening to a speech delivered by Mr Le Goh the then Prime Minister of Singapore who was extracted from the Shipping giant ?Neptune? and planted as the Prime Minister by the famous Mr Lee Kwan the father of modern Singapore. He said that there must be a Vision for Singapore for the year 2025. He had gathered the Education Minister and the staff and personnel involved in education in the Universities and other Academic institutions and said that Singapore?s economy is based ?on value added services? as they did not have an agricultural base or any natural resources. He said that the world is going to face a food crisis in the mid 2020?s hence Singapore should have a society which is disciplined and Knowledge based and extols the educationist to give priority and make it achievable.

He reminded that the 30 years terrorist menace was eliminated by the Thurstanite Old Boy Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa, who unlike other previous Presidents had a singular vision to eliminate this scourge and he was not deterred by the many obstacles that was thrown on his way by both by the International fora and local forces and paved the way for the liberation of the country.

Hence he told the young Thurstanites, that each boy should have a clear vision what he would want to achieve in life and strive with single minded determination to achieve it. He also said that vision per say will not achieve success, but most of all one should be disciplined, have leadership qualities and be accountable for all actions.

Suren concluded his address by saying that he hoped that? these thoughts together with my achievements in life ? will act as a catalyst for the success and be a productive citizen of our beloved motherland.

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