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THOMIAN LIVE WIRE GAMINI GUNAWARDENA PASSES AWAY IN THE UK – BY IVAN COREA

Posted on 16 July 2017 by admin

Ivan Corea remembers his Thomian batchmate and friend!

GAMINI GUNAWARDENA

Gamini Gunawardena is no more. Everyone knew him as ‘Chucker’. The "larger than life Chucker" full of stories, jokes and that hearty laugh. His death was untimely, his sister Patricia was by his side at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington as he slipped away peacefully at 3.15 a.m.  He was my batchmate at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, he was also my friend. 

I first came across Gamini in school in the 1970s. I distinctly remember seeing him near Thalassa, the building that housed Warden Anandanayagam's office and I think his father, Sub Warden Patrick Gunawardena's office. There was Gamini holding court with his friends and I could hear that laugh of his, from miles away! 

In the 1990s we met up again when I married my wife Charika and found out that Gamini was married to her first cousin Sue Gurusinghe, a lawyer from Wembley. I remember going to meet them in North London and they visited my home in Upper Norwood before Charika flew back to the U.K. I actually teased him that he had to eat my culinary delights when he was trained in the art of cuisine after he left College. 

When we moved to Essex, Gamini and Sue would visit us often, on one occasion he brought with him his guitar and I am sure he sang. My little son Charin provoked much laughter when he went over to Gamini and took his guitar away! 

We kept in touch and he would always turn up or ask me to come to Kingsbury. Shiromie Welikela ( "Baby Shiromie" in the world of entertainment in 1960s and 1970s Ceylon) was recalling his loyalty as a friend to her late husband Sunil (also another batchmate at St. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia) and herself – Gamini was always there for them when they visited the U.K. prior to settling down in Canada. 

That loyalty is something I will never forget. When my father Vernon Corea died in September 2002, Gamini was one of the first to turn up at my sister's home. When my father's funeral took place at Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon Village, Gamini had organized a group of Old Thomians to attend the funeral, he had organized the ushers, made sure the food was on the tables and oversaw the pall bearers. 

Gamini was President of the Old Thomians Association in the United Kingdom in 2010 he raised a great deal of funds for his alma mater, organized the dinner dances, sports events in London and a historic cricket match with the Sri Lanka Society of Oxford University. Gamini was a Thomian through and through and he was always in the thick of it. 

Believe it or not he was a good spinner although I used to tease him about his "donkey drops." On one occasion at the annual Old Royalist-Old Thomian encounter in London, Gamini routed the Old Royalists with three key wickets – I told him I am going to have some fun with him and back in 1997 in Colombo the sports pages on one side read Sanath Jayasuriya hits 340 and on the other side was an article by me "Gamini Gunawardena sinks the Old Royalists in the U.K.!" He broke into uncontrolled laughter when he saw the sports headlines – he couldn't quite believe it! The Old Thomians Magazine in the U.K. also reproduced the article. 

Gamini's father was the great educationist Patrick Gunawardena. As Thomians we held him in high respect in the 1970s when he was Sub Warden at Mount Lavinia. In the 2000s Gamini and I discussed an event – to hold the PATRICK GUNAWARDENA AWARDS for autism – it was held in the Palace of Westminster with members of parliament from the House of Commons, peers from the House of Lords and British charity heads. Linda Perham MP created history when she mentioned Patrick Gunawardena for the first time in a debate in the House of Commons in Westminster. Gamini felt so humbled by that – he loved his father and this was a high honour. 

Gamini had a deep and abiding belief in God we have deep discussions and on one occasion he and Sue, her sister all decided to go to a Benny Hinn Crusade in London Docklands as we heard that he was healing people. 

And so I say farewell to Gamini. I am sure the Old Thomians will be there to say farewell in Colombo and at the funeral in Gampaha. May his soul Rest In Peace in the arms of Jesus. 

 

 

 

 

 

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