Jeremy Bolling: A legend bids adieu | Sunday Observer

Jeremy Bolling: A legend bids adieu

What would you do if it was your very last day on earth, and tomorrow you had to die?

Jeremy Bolling would have sailed the seas, and as he once said in a newspaper interview “conquered his dreams”, because that was what life was to him: dreaming big and then going on to achieve those dreams.

The rest of his time on earth, he would have spent with his family.

Jeremy John Bolling was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year and a half ago. Last Thursday he passed away after a courageously battling the disease. He was 57.

“He stayed positive till the end, and we were with him,” says Olympian swimmer and Jeremy’s younger brother Julian.

Julian remembers his brother, the eldest in the family of three boys, as a fun-loving person. Even after his diagnosis Jeremy would often hit the gym, spend time with his family, and even go sailing, which he had always loved to do.

Jeremy Bolling will be remembered as a legend in Sri Lanka. He lived an extraordinary life. On February 19, 2014, Jeremy set sail from Galle. Thirty days and two storms later his voyage ended back in the southern port of Galle.

Jeremy Bolling’s voyage is the reason Sri Lankans know it takes exactly 30 days to go right round the island in a 17ft sail boat. Jeremy and his team, made history becoming the first, and thus far only people to sail around Sri Lanka.

The trip was intended to raise awareness and funding for education of local students through Educate Lanka Foundation. After the journey ended the foundation thanked Jeremy for helping them raise over Rs. 100,000 for the cause.

In an interview with a local paper, Jeremy remembered the experience as humbling, “from the laid back lifestyle of fishermen to the true Sri Lankan spirit of sharing and the essence of the Sri Lankan smile.” He declared he was a changed person after the journey.

Jeremy showed that working hard to achieve something, and having a hobby then having a gala time with it was what life was made for. Usually clad in shorts, t-shirt and shoes - the brothers would share - Jeremy built a unique reputation that his friends, whom he cared for very much, remember. That is why when his remains were laid at ‘The Octagon’, 86/4, Kumaragewatte Road, Pelawatte, his friends from Royal came to pay tribute to a man who was ‘full of life’.

He was a proud Royalist, and tried not to miss the Battle of the Blues (the annual Royal- Thomian match). He was fond of cycling too. Though the family lived about a kilometre away he would opt to cycle to and from school. He was also a talented swimmer, like his brother Julian, engaged in water polo, and was a competent wind surfer.

Then came the cancer.

“When he was nearing the end he started to reflect more on relationships. We had discussions of how people chased after money, but what really matters was having a family close,” Julian said.

“Jeremy was so adventurous, fun-loving, kept everyone entertained. He loved the outdoors. We will miss him in our family,” said Pravir Samarasinghe, a first cousin.

Kalinga Indatissa, President’s Counsel, paid tribute to his friend Jeremy on Facebook saying, “I have never seen him angry. I have never seen him without a smile. He was mild, courteous and disciplined. He would never insult a lady and would not make any remarks on them. He spoke very fondly of his teachers.”

He adds, “He loved humour, friendly banter and enjoyed a conversation. He called himself a Govigama Lansiya.”

Indatissa thanked his late friend for ‘lighting up our lives’. “Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your conversations and humour. Thank you for your frankness. Thank you for being a friend. You will always be in my mind for being the human being that you were.”

Jeremy is survived by his wife Nicola, and children Georgie, Jordan and Jade. He was a loving son to the late Ralph and Tara, and the elder brother to David and Julian. Yesterday (9) evening he was laid to rest at the General Cemetery, Kanatte.

Jeremy will be best remembered sailing the Indian Ocean, the sea breeze blowing the hair from his face, resident seagulls and dolphins guiding him home, as they once did in 2014.