TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


Dr. H. Shirley Perera: 

A pioneering surgeon and committed Anandian

H. Shirley Perera was known to his patients as “Dr. H.S.” and to those of us who grew up with him from school days he was “H.S.”

H.S. had his early education at Ananda Sasthralaya, Kotte. He always topped his class in school, and in his final years in school, he decided to do medicine. Since Ananda Sasthralaya did not have a Science stream, he applied to Ananda College and Royal College and was accepted by both schools following tests.

H.S. explained his dilemma of selecting a school to Ananda Sasthralaya Principal Dr. E. W. Adikaram who advised him to further his education at Ananda College.

Leading schools in Colombo were in difficulties as it was a period of World War II. Ceylon became the headquarters of the South East Asian Command with heavy troop movements and the military occupied the school buildings of many leading schools, including Ananda. These schools opened branches around Colombo to help their students. Fortunately for Ananda, the buildings housing the laboratories were not taken over, and it proved to be a great advantage to the students to continue their studies.

Along the main buildings of Ananda, there was empty space where the school authorities put up cadjan huts and conducted the school.

Ananda had an excellent staff in Science, Arts and Oriental Studies. The students produced from mid-forties to the fifties excelled in their studies and became distinguished professionals in medicine, law, engineering and served in various fields.

H.S. and the other students of his batch did well in the medical entrance examination and 65 percent of the total intake to the medical faculty were Anandians. Having performed well in the MBBS, H.S. was offered a scholarship to the UK and specialised in Thoracic surgery. He further qualified in the UK and returned to serve his country.

He was appointed a consultant at the Ratnapura Hospital. While at Ratnapura, he conducted a weekly clinic at the Kandy General Hospital and finally worked at the National Hospital, Colombo. Many of those who attended his clinics were poor villagers and some did not even have the money to return home. Not only did he provide medical help, he helped them financially to ensure that they could continue their treatment to get them cured.

He was an innovative and pioneering surgeon. A poor patient whom he examined was found to require Cardiac Bypass surgery when such surgery was unheard of in the 70’s and H.S. did the needful to make the first such surgery in Sri Lanka.

H.S. maintained a close contact with his Alma Mater through the OBA. He attended functions in the school. While doing post graduate studies in the UK, he would travel to Sri Lanka to attend the Ananda-Nalanda Cricket encounter, a practice he continued until his final years when ill-health restricted him.

With Ananda gaining popularity, student intake increased and accommodation had to be provided for the growing numbers. The Government helped the school by giving it land. Ananda shared a playground with Nalanda at Campbell park, and this was not a satisfactory arrangement for Ananda. There was a proposal to built a sports complex on the newly acquired land with facilities for all types of sports. The need arose to provide aquatic sports too. It was decided to build a pool for Ananda.

The school authorities requested the OBA to take up the project. The OBA accepted the challenge and appointed a committee for the purpose. H.S. was selected as the committee Chairman, and he in turn selected capable old Anandians to the sub-committees. The project called for expertise in planning, supervision, execution and fund raising.

Funding was the biggest challenge. HS invited batches of old Anandians to his residence weekly and these old boys formed branches in their districts and helped raise funds. He also contacted old boys overseas and they too formed OBA committees in their countries. H.S. together with his team organised dances, dinners, walks and other activities to raise funds for the project. These activities bore fruit when a pool complex was opened in 1993 by the then President R. Premadasa.

The school authorities and old boys acknowledged the contribution of H.S. and his committee towards the project. They named the pool complex “Dr. H.S. Perera Swimming Pool Complex”. H.S. is no more, but future generations of Anandians will continue to pay their respects to this loyal son of Ananda.

May he attain Nirvana!


Dr Pathmanaban Subramaniam:

A man of astute knowledge

Our beloved brother and friend Dr Pathmanaban Subramaniam passed away in Malaysia on June 10 after a brief illness at 73.

Dr Pathmanaban hailed from Kandy, whose late father P. Subramaniam was fondly remembered as local Shakespeare for his talent in teaching English literature.

Dr .Pathmanaban was an old boy of St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Peradeniya and his M.Sc and Ph.D from the University of Manchester, England. As a man of astute knowledge and intelligence, he joined the European Space Agency in Holland to work in the development of satellites.

Having given his expert knowledge to this institute, he decided to go back to England. He was self-employed as an Electro-Chemist and started manufacturing and selling corrosion detectors to oil and construction industries where he was recognised as an industrial expert.

He reached the pinnacle by writing the book, Cathodic Protection with the help of one of his colleagues. He was successful in his business until his retirement to Malaysia from where he was planning to settle down in Sri Lanka. But God had different plans for him.

He is survived by his loving wife Yogeswari, children Sumathy and Shanmuga, grandsons Ashwini, Jayendra and sisters and brothers to whom he radiated love and affection.

His loss has left an irreplaceable void among the family and friends. He was a devotee of Lord Ganesha.

May he grant him eternal rest and peace! Aum Shanthi!

Family and friends