I am very sorry that I am unable to be present with you this morning, but as most of you will know, the 1st XV, along with the Under 18s and U16s, have a match in Colombo today at which I am expected to be present.
I also apologise for the fact that this Meeting is taking place in the Junior School rather than in the Main Hall as usual. There is absolutely no ulterior motive for this, despite what some would apparently have you believe. It is simply that when the date of the Annual Pirith Ceremony was put in the School Calendar some months ago, the MIC did not also book the Hall. It was purely an oversight. By the time the clash was noticed, all the dignitaries and senior priests from the Asgirya Temple had already been invited. As soon as we discovered the clash, the Head of Administration immediately contacted the Secretariat Manager as well as Senaka Alawattegama, informing them of the problem and offering either to find an alternative date for the Main hall or an alternative venue. They chose the latter. So I hope that you are all comfortable and able to conduct the AGM in an appropriate and responsible manner.
As I said a moment ago, as your Patron, I am sad not to be with you today. If I had been, I would have used my address to focus on one thing in particular. And that is Old Boy loyalty. Over the past year, I have seen both the very best and the very worst of behaviour by Old Boys of this great Institution. At one end, the school has received so much valuable advice, financial support, and technical or professional help from Old Trinitians of all ages. However, at the other end, I have been the frequent recipient of outrageous abuse, insults and lies from a few Old Boys whose noses have clearly been put out of joint for some reason.
To those in the former group, I say a big thank you on behalf of the College. You are doing Trinity an invaluable service through your selfless support. And, personally, I am learning so much from you and look forward to your continued help and advice over the coming years.
To the small number of people who have been trying their hardest to discredit the Board and me with blatant lies and unsubstantiated insinuations, I respectfully ask you to cease your petty and vindictive behaviour and throw your weight behind your old school, its Board of Governors and its Principal. There are plenty of people around who are envious of Trinity and wish us harm without some of our own Old Boys also doing their best to damage the school’s reputation.
As Old Boys, you all know that when you walk through the gates of Trinity, it does not make any difference what religion or race you are – everyone is treated in exactly the same way and with the same respect. Sadly, judging by their posts on Social Media, some Old Boys clearly have not lived up to those same high standards in later life – there is regularly foul-mouthed racial abuse posted on Facebook by Old Trinitians who should be ashamed of themselves. What on earth do you think great men like Cedric Oorloff, or Gordon Burrows, or Hilary Abeyratne, or even Fraser himself would say if they read this sort of illiterate racist ranting from Trinitians?
Anyone who knows me will, I hope, confirm to you that I do not like “Yes Men”. I am not one myself and I am not interested in surrounding myself with people who automatically agree with everything I say. The older I get, the more collaborative my Leadership style has become, and the more I realise that asking for advice is a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness. As such, I am more than happy to receive helpful suggestions from anybody at all. And I frequently act upon that advice. However, as Principal, you will appreciate that I ultimately must be prepared to make the final decisions myself. And inevitably, not all of those decisions will be popular with everybody. As the old saying goes, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time… and never was that more true than in the case of Trinity!
So, in conclusion, I strongly request all Old Boys to unite behind the Principal and the School community as we do our very best to ensure that, once again, Trinity College can rightfully call itself “the best school of all”.
AFW 4th March 2017