The STAR Online
Published: Friday June 13, 2014 MYT 12:00:00
Updated: Friday June 13, 2014 MYT 9:18:50 AM
Deepening ties that bind
by r. sekaran
Kirkbyites dancing at the reunion dinner at Four Points by Sheraton, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
-(scroll to bottom for more photos)
THE attendees of the reunion dinner were all well into their 70s and quite a number in the 80s.
Despite their age, they had a ball, dancing, mingling with one another and catching up on the times, hearty in their laughs and backslap.
The septuagenarians and octogenarians stood tall and proud in their demeanour.
They were all Kirkbyites, members of the Alumni of Malayan Teachers’ Training College Kirkby Liverpool 1951-1962.
“It’s 60 years of unity, which have withstood the test of time and this enduring friendship will continue,” said Kirkbyite Datuk Abdul Hamid Said, 76, a retired High Court judge.
“Kirkby was the place that built national unity and that bond strengthens each time we meet for the reunion every two years.”
Hamid, who retired as judge in 2003, said Kirkby-trained teachers had passion, drive and dedication synonymous with the quality of education Kirkby was famous for.
“What’s lacking in today’s education is critical thinking, something endowed to us in the education we received, which enabled some of us to become outstanding civil servants.”
The college was set up in Kirkby, Lancashire, England, in 1951 by the then Malayan government to train its citizens. The establishment of the college overseas was the first undertaking by any government in the world and it closed in 1962.
Another outstanding Kirkbyite is 77-year-old K. Keesavapany who is the current Singapore Ambassador to Jordan and a former founder president of the Hindu Youth Organisation in Malaysia.
“Kirkby taught us friendship and respect for the individual and all of us were a family irrespective of our race or religion,” said the former resident of Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
“We lived the Kirkby life and those memories will always be there which is why this reunion is very special to all of us.”
Keesavapany was in the Kirkby batch of 1955 to 1977, joined the Singapore civil service after graduating, and was Singapore Permanent Representative to United Nations in Geneva before serving as Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia from 1997 to 2002.
Almost 200 Kirkbyites from as far as New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, a few with walking aids, attended the reunion at a leading hotel in Tanjung Bungah.
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