Oh, what a night!

By Lawrence Heyn

Peterites gathered in Melbourne on October 4 to do more than lift the flag on high; they raised the roof of the Springvale Town Hall with a proud and stirring rendition of the college anthem.

The Blue That Crowns the World reunion of old boys of St Peter’s College, Colombo, was three years in the making and rode on the success of the 2011 event. Organisers could not have been happier with the turn-out, with Old Petes from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth mingling with an overseas contingent.

It was a night of great comradeship, renewed acquaintances, reminiscing and lots of laughter generated by well-scripted and well-acted skits.

A feature of the reunion was the presence of seven past cricket captains – Tyrone Le Mercier, Ruwan Jayaweera, Bernard Wijetunge, Ranjan Perera, Charinde Perera, Suraj Abeysekera and Michael Elias – and three rugby First XV skippers Jizvy Nizar, Ainsley Baldsing and Keith Nugegoda.

The captains were felicitated on stage by Fr Rector (aka Rienzie Machado) and were presented with personalised mini cricket bats and rugby balls in appreciation of their service to St Peter’s.

Another captain, Gamini Goonasena (1973) could not attend but Gerald Solomons, the match-winning spinner (10 for 60) ably stood in for his skipper.

California resident Charinde Perera, who had been looking forward to this reunion for the past three years, echoed the sentiments of everyone attending.

“The event was well planned and executed and the food was excellent. Meeting some of my teammates and classmates after almost 40 years was very special. Most of the Peterites looked great after so many years,” Charinde said.

It was easy to see everyone was having a ball reconnecting with mates from school days long ago, with such refrains as “Machang, I know your face but I cannot remember your name …”

To underline Peterite versatility, one of college’s favourite sons Conrad de Silva, of Jetliners fame, had the dance floor rocking with a string of great hits, complemented by talented musicians Chris and Lozaine.

Dinner was an outstanding hit too, with Cinnamons Restaurant & Bar providing a well-stocked and varied buffet. The menu was set against a Raa Kade theme and the roti station took the honours.

Organising committee chairman Rienzie Machado said the number of overseas and interstate Peterites who attended was a clear indication of what reunions were all about.

“The ambience was great as the 260-plus crowd filled the hall which was decked out in Peterite colours. The finger food of roti and prawn plus the tandoori canapes set the tone for the night as the Petes and their partners enjoyed the happy hour,” Rienzie said.

“The slide show, skits and the recognition of past skippers made it a unique reunion. The souvenir, jam packed with articles of yesteryear memories, is one to be read and re-read. The class act held the noisy Petes quiet as they recalled their pranks and the deeds of teachers.

“The anthem led by Stephen de Niese was sung with gusto and filled the hall with renewed meaning. “I thank my team for their commitment, many sleepless nights and of course their wives who supported our 2014 reunion.”

For the committee the hard work was worth it to see the happy faces all night long.

That happiness is reflected in the following comments from old boys.

 “I think your goal was to create an atmosphere that encouraged old friends to walk around and mingle. I am pretty sure that was the case. Also the food and decor were amazing.”

“The skits were good, thanks for a well-organised evening. Great work by you and the committee. “There was a good variety of food and it was nice catching up with friends.”

“I cannot wait another three years for the next reunion, do it sooner in two years.”

“What a great night you ought to be proud of your committee’s performance.”

“I have come from NSW for the last three reunions and I promise I will be there again with my mates.”

“Did this Rector come from Sri Lanka?”

“I have been to all the reunions, but this was the best!”

Until we meet again, keep the flag flying.

Limited Peterite Australiana ties are still available, at $20, contact Rienzie on 0413 057 762 or email rienziemachado@gmail.com

Pride of Peterites ... Some past captains, from left, Ruwan Jayaweera (partly obscured), Tyrone Le Mercier, Charinde Perera, Ranjan Perera, Suraj Abeysekera and Michael Elias with "Fr Rector"

Pride of Peterites … Some past captains, from left, Ruwan Jayaweera (partly obscured), Tyrone Le Mercier, Charinde Perera, Ranjan Perera, Suraj Abeysekera and Michael Elias with “Fr Rector”