History of Jaffna Hindu College Old boys’ Association (UK)

JHC OBA (UK) is a unique organisation in that it is the first-ever overseas OBA established in 1987 by a band of young old boys inspired and coordinated by Mr K Seveal. The small group of enthusiastic old boys gathered in Holborn and unanimously elected Mr T S Perinpanathan as the President (1987-1990), who continued to take an active part in the affairs of the association for long years till his untimely death. For unknown reasons, however, the OBA was defunct for a few years soon after the inaugural meeting.

The OBA was revived in 1990 with a new constitution by the late Mr S Uthayalingam, Mr T Ganeshwaran, Mr R Sureshkumar and several others. The 1987 committee was re-elected and they successfully celebrated the centenary of the School at Lola Jones Hall in South London. Since then the OBA has undergone a period of steady growth, to the admiration and envy of other organisations, focusing on fulfilling the needs of the Alma Mater which has faced untold hardships during the past decades.

Dr.M.Vetpillai was elected as President (1991-93) and during his presidency, with the help of other enthusiastic committee members; OBA was able to initiate a scholarship programme for the welfare of needy students at JHC through funds collected by arranging cultural programmes and from donations by our members.

Under the presidency of talented Dr S Jothilingam (1993-97), the Scholarship Fund not only grew at a rapid pace, but financial assistance was also provided to the college to buy furniture and office equipment. With a view to expand the small sports ground of JHC, the committee was able to purchase a part of the adjacent land.  

These magnificent efforts continued under the able presidency of Mr T Ganeshwaran (1997-2000), who successfully organised the International Convention of OBAs around the world in 2000, to coincide with the millennium celebrations (Kalaiyarasi 2000). A highly rewarding raffle draw netted the OBA a handsome seventeen thousand pounds (£17,000), which was donated to the school Scholarship Fund.

The highlight of the ‘Kalaiyarasi 2000’ was the visit by Mr A Srikumaran, the Principal of JHC, as the Chief Guest. He provided the audience with a vivid account of the hardships the students and teachers face in the day-to-day school life due to lack of books and other basic amenities. Responding to his request, our old boys readily extended their ever-willing hands in the subsequent years, helping the Alma Mater in many different ways. Mr A F Mariadas (2000-2002) in his capacity as the succeeding President continued the good work done by the OBA, successfully organising the annual cultural evening ‘Kalaiyarasi 2001’ to collect funds and contributed to the development of the Alma Mater.

The next president was Mr N Selvarajasingam (2002-2004) who continued to function with vigour and enthusiasm upholding the ethos of the OBA and had very cordial relationships with the JHC-OBAS around the world, participated in the international conference in Germany, and helped to develop the college.

Unfortunately in 2002, the JHC OBA UK became a victim of its own growth. Disenchanted by the traditional school centred focus of the JHC OBA (UK), some members chose to establish another Association. Despite untiring efforts by the president and those of our father figure Mr V Sivasupramaniam, a veteran retired teacher and chief guest at the ‘Kalaiyarasi 2003’, and many other well-wishers, it had not been possible to unify the two associations under one banner.

In 2004, the OBA was able to honour our highly respected teacher  Mr.S.Sivaramalingam  as our Chief Guest and the former Principal Mr S Ponnambalam as the guest of honour at the ‘Kalaiyarasi 2004’ for the centenary celebration of the OBA. How can anyone of his students forget Mr.Sivaramalingam’s wonderful illustration of ‘Ramayanam’, let alone his golden advice on moral values mingled with jokes like sugar-coated tablets?
When Mr.V.Shanmugalingam was president of OBA in 2004-2006, he was instrumental in carrying out the hostel renovation programme Phase 1 in memory of the highly respected boarding master late Mr.K.S.S. Subramaniam. One can gauge the amount of respect and gratitude the old boys held for KSS by the numerous articles carried by the ‘Kalaiyarasi 2006’ magazine.  In addition, the OBA was able to complete a much-needed preschool project in Maritimepattu, Mulaithivu, which was affected by the civil war.

During the presidency of Mr.A.Thiruketheeswaran (2006-2008), OBA contributed funds to purchase the land and the house next to Cumarasamy hall to be used as quarters for the principal. In addition, OBA offered financial help to the children in Vanni affected by the tsunami, and donated funds to the centre for health care in Vanni for the use of much needed mobile medical unit. During this period, the OBA invited Deputy Principal Mr.P.Maheswaran as the chief guest for the OBA’s 20th anniversary ‘Kalaiyarasi 2007’, celebrated the 80th birthday of our famous teacher, Mr.M.C.Francis and participated in the inaugural function of OBA Norway.
On 28th Nov.2007, It is noteworthy that the presidents and the committee of both factions negotiated to come under one banner of JHCOBA again.
When Mr K Seveal (2008-2010) was president, OBA raised funds through the ‘Kalaiyarasi 2009’ and Dinner & Dance event and completed the process of renovating the quarters for the principal and it was ceremonially opened by the president on 16/09/2009.OBA also donated sports and photographic equipment to the college and donated funds to relieve the suffering of IDP in Vanni.

Mr.S.Senthilnathan (2010-2012) as President OBA raised funds through ‘Kalaiyarasi 2011’. OBA also arranged free evening classes for vulnerable children at Mahadeva paddippaham, Ottisuttan, Vanni. OBA also completed the Principal quarter’s project. In 2012, 25th year of the JHC OBA (UK) was celebrated with a successful symposium involving the eminent old boys of JHC followed by a well appreciated ‘Kalaiyarasi 2012’. OBA also sponsored two students from JHC to participate in International junior Science Olympiad in South Africa.

Mr.K.Skandamoorthy (2012-2014) organised  ‘Kalaiyarasi 2013 & 2014’ and fund raising events like Twenty20, Jolly Vibe, the funds were used to build much needed toilet facilities at the college and for further needs of the college. In 2014, Sivaramalingam Memorial Library project was initiated at a cost of £9,000. OBA also sponsored a student from JHC to participate in International junior Science Olympiad in Philippines.

Mr Saba Suganthan (2015-2016) was elected as president in Oct 2014. Under his leadership, the new management committee has overseen the successful completion of the Sivaramalingam Memorial Library and on 23rd March 2015, the library was ceremonially opened by Master P Darukeesan who came first in the all-island ranking in the Maths stream A/L results 2014. In February 2015, the OBA organised an excellent seminar titled UPSKILLING ‘Aspire to a future’, a personal development plan involving eminent old boys of JHC to help the students and young employees in UK and at JHC. In March 2015, more 1000 children were provided educational assistance including JHC and schools in Mullaithivu and Budulla to mark 125 years of excellence of JHC by the OBA. First time in the history, OBA UK jointly organised a teachers Get together in Jaffna with Colombo and Jaffna OBAs in March 21st 2015.  It has also organised ‘Kalaiyarasi 2015’ on a grand scale to celebrate the 125th anniversary of JHC.

Following the footsteps of OBA UK, it is heartening to note that our brother OBAs in different countries as Canada, USA, Australia (Sydney, Melbourne), New Zealand, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore, have all joined the league offering their helping hands to our Alma Mater in a healthy competitive manner

I pray to Saraswathy, Goddess of Knowledge, to grant the required wisdom to all the old boys, to work together hand in hand in the service to our Alma Mater, especially at this time when she needs our help the most.

“Wherever we go, whatever disaster happens,
We shall not forget the welfare of our mother JHC”

College song

Writing about JHCOBA (UK) is not an easy one with the events, achievements and the people involved not being properly documented in the OBA files. Kalaiyarasi journals offered valuable information in compiling this history.  I must crave the pardon of the unsung heroes who are not mentioned in my synopsis for no wilful reasons. The fact is that the organisation has grown to such great heights today not because of any single-handed individual but through the collective efforts of many old boys from various walks of life expressing their gratitude and appreciation to their Alma Mater and their respected teachers, whose yeoman service has been the contributory factor of our personal success stories here in the UK and other parts of the world. –  A senior old boy of JHC –