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Appreciation – Lalit Agalawatta – A man of quiet ways and gentle disposition, he will be missed by all

Posted on 10 June 2016 by TSL

Lalit Parakrama Agalawatta 75, passed away at Mt Sinai Hospital in New York on December 17, 2013, after having suffered a severe heart attack, giving a rude shock to all his relatives and friends. Lalit passed away having fulfilled his heartfelt need to see his only grand son Alakai who was born just six months before. Sita his devoted spouse and Lalit had expressed their wish to see their only new born grandson and their only son Amal in New York and left Sri Lanka only a week before Lalit’s sudden demise. My wife and I are so thankful for treating him to breakfast two days before they left Sri Lanka.

Thankfully Lalit saw his grandson before he closed his eyes. I have had the pleasure of knowing Lalit for almost 65 years and associating with him over this long period , both in Sri Lanka and also when he was in Britain, then the US and even in Kosovo where he served with the United Nations for a three year stint.Lalit and I lived next door to each other in houses down Havelock Rd in those halcyon days. Lalit’s father was the renowned Mudliyar C. M Agalawatta who in his days was the Acting Registrar General and signed many of our Birth Certificates. His mother was the sister of one time Chief Justice Hema H. Bassnayake and Lalit spoke very proudly of this connection. Lalit and I were at Royal Collge together. He joined two years after I did. I still recall with nostalgia how we used to ride with his father in their Vauxhall Velox when he ferried us to Royal and back and then pick up his sister Irangani (who later married famous lawyer Daya Perera PC and sadly passed away two years ago) from the University of Ceylon in Thurstan Rd, only a block way from Royal and then to Holy Family Convent on Galle Rd to pick up Chitra his younger sister. At Royal Lalit threw himself actively into sporting activities playing both Cricket and Rugger at College.

I still treasure a fading photograph of the two of us when we were prefects. Lalit went on to become Head Prefect. After Royal Lalit persuaded his parents to send him to Britain to further his studies as he was keen to be a Barrister.

Events proved otherwise as he found himself absorbed into the famous Ceylon Tea Centre, down Regent St where he served many years as Asst. Tea Controller. This work took him to Paris, Amerterdam and Stockholm where there were Ceylo Tea Centres. It was during one of these visits that Cupid struck when he met lovely Sita Jayawardena who strangely enough was also working at the Tea Centre in Gamester. The rest is history. Soon they were blessed with two adorable children Jamal (who served in the US Army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan) and Shania who now works with the United Nations in Sudan. After serving a long stint in London Laity was hand picked by the then Minister for Plantation Industries Major Montague Jayhawker to set up a Ceylon Tea Centre in New York. He accomplished this onerous task single handedly, facing severe odds in a strange environment and ran that Centre for a few years. Later due to considerations of cutting down overseas expenditure , the then Got decided to close the Centre.

Meanwhile Sita with her competent secretarial skills found employment in the UN building in New York and rose to be the Secretary to the Chef de Cabinet who was the second in command to the then Secretary General Kofi Annan, who found in her a reliable and efficient person. I recall the many many occasions when I was in transit in London and New York how eagerly Lalit and Sita awaited my arrival and insisted that I stay with them in their apartment. Waterside Plaza in New York soon became a house hold name for me. Lalit was a devout Buddhist and on each occasion I spent the night with them I woke up to Spirit being chanted on the Cassette Recorder.He continued to follow his strong Buddhist traditions even in Battaramulla where they moved to when they returned to Sri Lanka, by visiting the temple regularly.

I will miss Lalit as a close friend and confidant. He and Sita paid frequent visits to our Havelock Road home. Many were the occasions he poured out his heart to me about some of his problems and ailments. I listened quietly and tried my best to sort out even a few of his problems, giving him some solace and comfort. The only times I had to reprimand him were about his smoking habits. He was a caring husband and devoted father. They will no doubt miss him the most. Our sympathies are with them. All of his friends both here and abroad will miss his quiet ways and gentle disposition.

May he attain Nirvana

Nihal Seneviratne

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Sportsman Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa remembered on his 23rd death anniversary

Posted on 12 August 2015 by TSL


 

 

Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa was remembered by Kandy's sports loving fraternity, on his 23rd death anniversary last Saturday. Late Denzil was a colorful military officer and a fine rugby personality. He died twenty three years ago in August, whilst commanding the security forces in the north when the vehicle he was travelling went over a pressure mine. He was a gentleman on and off the rugby field during his playing days. After hanging up his boots he continued his contribution to rugby as a reputed referee a knowledgeable coach and an able administrator.

He was one of the finest warriors ever produced by the Army in our contemporary history and he fell silent on August 8, 1992 during that time with a few more fellow military veterans. died. Others who lost their livesd were Major General Wijaya Wimalarathne, Rear Admiral Mohan Jayamaha, Lt. Colonel H.R Stephen, Lt. Colonel G.H Ariyarathne, Lt. Colonel Y.N Palipana, Commander Asanga Lankathilaka, Lt. Colonel Nalin de Alwis, Lt. Commander C.B Wijepura and Private W.J Wickremasinghe while they were on a military assignment in the North.

Denzil as he was popularly known began his brilliant school carrier, first at Hillwood Girls College and later at Trinity College, where his sporting career started. His rugby started at Trinity College Kandy, At that time this school was known as the cradle of rugby in the country. He was also a top class hockey player. He won colors and the coveted Lion in rugby, along with P.A. Bultjens and E.D.K. Roles in 1959. Also hockey colors in the same year together with L.U.B. Disanayake, N.C. Molligoda and L.S. Perera., and he also was an Athelete, Basketball player and a cricketer.

At Trinity he was also a School Prefect of Lemuel House in 1960 and later appointed Senior Prefect, in the same year. However this appointment lasted only for a week since he opted to pursue a career with the Army.

He first played rugger for the senior team in 1957 under Ken B de Joodt, and paired off as scrum half with fly half Nimal Maralande.

The other team mates were Uvais Odayar, S.P. de Silva, P. A Bulltjens Jnr., H. Godigamuwe, Rohan H Wijanayake, Mike de Alwis, J. 'Dias de Singhe , E.D.K. Roles, R.B.Wijekoon, A.R. Frank, N.T. E Brohier, where in the key game against Royal for the Bradby 1st leg Trinity won 8-0, and the second leg too 9-8. And in the following year it was Ken B de Joodt who led the side. This time they lost the Bradby after a long spell.

In 1959 it was Denzil's turn to captain. Royal were led by M.L. Anghie , and had players of the calibre of G. Vangeyzel, E.L.Perera, O.G. Samaratunge, M.T. Rahim, L. Senaratne, M.L.Anghie, R.Pothuera, D.N. Fernando, R. Sivaratnam, R. Fernando, H.S. de Silva, M.L.Loos, K. Balendra, L. de Sivla., C de Zoysa and J.V.P. Samarasekara.

Denzil's Trinity side was made up of M. Talwatte, A.R.M.Azain, E.D.K. Roles, P.A. Buultjens, and S. Janakiram. Ken Murray, Jayantissa Ratwatte, T.P. Hermon, Jayantha Jayawardene, S.C de Silva, Gamini Fernando, T. Haroon Chunchi, R. Madena, R.W. Madugalle, R.R. Samarakoon. Royal won the first leg 5-0 at Bogambara Grounds refereed by Mahesh Rodrigo, and the second leg at Longden Place Trinity won 6-0 which game was refereed by V.S de Livera.

It was in 1960 that Denzil began his illustrious career in the Army and went for training to England at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst for two years.

After successfully completing his training he returned to the country and was a regular member of the Army rugger team, which he went on to captain later.

He played for the Army in 1964/65 seasons along with C.S. Fernando, Dr. C.Thuairajah, Sarath Wijesinghe, Tunku Ousman, S. Ranjanayam, A.N. Peries, Ginige Edwin, Anderson Jayaratne, Piyadasa Chandrasekra, S. Wanasinghe, Neville Sheddon, D. Mendis.

In 1966 he was unfortunately sent on compulsory leave and during that time and played for Havelock Sports Club. In 1967 he came back to the city where he learnt the game, and played for Kandy Sports Club. Denzi'ls finest year in rugby was in 1969, where under his leadership Kandy Sports Club rose to great heights and beat league champions Havelock Sports Club 11-8 in the Clifford Cup quarter-finals. They went on to beat CH and FC 3-0 in the semifinals with a Shafie Jainudeen penalty and in the finals went down to CR and FC 6-12.

This cup final for Kandy Sports Club was after the 1955 final. Those who played with him in that famous team were Y.C.Chang who was the pack leader and motivator, Mohan Balasuriya, Gavin Stevens, Rohan Abeyasundara, D. Makuloluwa, Deepal de Zoysa, Jadi Dissanayake, Gamini Udugama, Jayantissa Ratwattte, Lakshman Samaravijaya, Sam Samarasekara, , Chang Faa Ching, George Jayasenaa, Sahfie Jainu Deen , Reserves Iswan Omar was side lined with Fedrick Prins both were injured in the semifinal game.

In the same year 1969, Denzil's greatest moment was in August when Sri Lanka played against Bosons. It was a two test series.

In both games Sri Lanka went down fighting and Denzil playing a key role in containing the visitors by tackling his opposite number Nick Vosper to a standstill and hit it off smoothly with fly half Omar Sheriff. In the same year in October he toured Singapore with the Sri Lanka team. He also played for Defence Services, and Up-Country in the Capper Cup.

Once again in 1970 he was recalled to the Army and he continued his rugby. Then in 1971/72 when Army did not take part in rugby due to the insurgency Denzil t Denzil once again turned out for CR Bees. He created history by becoming the first secretary of the SLRFU while being in the game.

Denzil, as a player, referee, coach, administrator has rendered invaluable service. He had the privilege of blowing the whistle in the first SLRFU Presidents Trophy and R. Premadasa trophy finals in 1978 and 1984. And also the Bradby and Clifford Cup finals.

He was the 1974 Rugby Asiad SLRFU secretary under the presidency of Summa Navaratnam. Later Denzil was offered the Vice Presidency of the SLRFU on several occasions in the 1980's which was the stepping stone to the SLRFU presidency. But he turned down the offers as he considered his service to the country more important than to rugby.

Then in 1967 and 78 he coached his school, and produced two champion teams which had players such as Ajith Abeyarthne, Rangith "Gogi" Tilakarathne, Jupana Jayawardene, Iswan Omar, Shafie Jainudeen, S. Sundaraligam, Glen Vlangenburg, P.M. Talwatte, Anura Madawella, Gotaba Dissanayake, Gamini Udugama.

Sri Lanka's rugby king maker, Malik Samarawickrema, who put up the new pavilion at Nittawella, named it after his good friend Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekkduwa. Then came in the Central Province RFU and Western Province RFU rugby game for a trophy in his memory. Later this trophy was contested for in the inter club sevens. What happened to this trophy and the tournament?

Denzil was held in high esteem by successive governments. To his credit, has served the nation with dedication at crucial times and proud to mention his efforts have been successful and fruitful. During the time of late J.R. Jayawardene's presidency, Denzil was invited by the president to join him him for the SAARC summit in Islamabad in Pakistan. he came back to the country and on the same day had to leave for London, as he was selected to follow a course in studies at the Royal College of Defence in London.

Denzil during his rugby playing days for Kandy Sports Club met Lalini Ratwatte, the younger daughter of Kenneth and Merle Ratwatte, and married her in December 1970. They were blessed with three children, Roshani, Shanilka and Dilshan. Denzil was born on 27th of July 1940, and said bye good on 8th August 1992; His demise was a great loss to Sri Lanka. I had the opportunity of associating with Denzil in rugby. He was a close and dear friend of my late uncle M.Enver Marikar who was a reputed sportsman and journalist.

 

 

 

 

– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=sports/sportsman-lt-general-kobbekaduwa-remembered#sthash.91i7ms69.dpuf

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