Remembering Reggie Fernando on his first death anniversary | Sunday Observer

Remembering Reggie Fernando on his first death anniversary

Reggie Fernando
Reggie Fernando

Former champion motor sportsman and veteran journalist Reggie Fernando whose first death anniversary falls on April 23 was a celebrated figure in both spheres.

Educated at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia Reggie took to motor sports and journalism like a duck takes to water. He first excelled in the field of motor sports staving off many foreign challenges with a row of records to his credit at both road and circuit races in the Kurunegala and Nuwara Eliya road races and the Katukurunda circuit meets.

He also served in the committee of the Ceylon Motorcycle Club and hung up his leathers in the late 1950s and turned to journalism as he worked in the Ceylon Observer under Tarzie Vittachy from 1956-62, then joined the Sun newspaper of the Davasa Group in 1963 and worked under another famous editor DB Dhanapala.

In 1967 Reggie was sent to UK as the Sun’s London correspondent and in the 1990s when the Sun closed down Lake House invited him to become their London Correspondent. He wrote various Sunday columns from London under the name of The London Diary, The London Beat, The Lord Reggie Column and the London Eye.

In 1984 Reggie was given a diplomatic appointment as press and information attache to the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden (Stockholm) overlooking Norway, Denmark and Finland. In 1991 while still an ANCL London correspondent Reggie launched the first free Sri Lankan English weekly paper ‘Newslanka’ in the UK that brought the Sri Lankan expatriates in the UK a daily update of all the news happening back at home.

It became a very popular paper and was distributed free with the costs being made through advertising. The newspaper won the ‘Best Newspaper’ award. During his tenure as a journalist counting over half a century he rubbed shoulders with Presidents, Prime Ministers and many top personalities from all spheres that included Lord Mount Batten, Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala, Lakshman Kadirgamar and British Prime Minister John Major to name a few. He was one time president of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party branch in the UK and Europe and in 2001 he was awarded the ‘Star of the Year’ for the Best Old Boy of S Thomas’ College which was one of the most prestigious awards.

Reggie was also an all-island Justice of the Peace and ran the newspapers for over fifty years before he finally retired and returned to Sri Lanka where he built a house in Nuwara Eliya and lived with his second wife Janet before moving to Colombo where he spent the rest of his life living in a luxury apartment in Wellawatte.

Reggie had a panache for being smartly dressed and loved vintage cars. He drove an old Mercedes Benz from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo and back and was proud to display it to his many friends. His first wife, a nurse, Thilaka, passed away a long time ago and they have a son Chin Fernando who is resident in the UK. He has continued publishing the Newslanka paper.

Reggie died at the age of 90 on April 23, 2018.