Story by Tunku Abdul Aziz     Picture by Zainal Arshad

Strong camaraderie after 60 years

A special luncheon was organised on 20th August 2014 for 21 former students, the 4th batch sent to Kirkby College in Lancashire. Some spouses joined them. One former student, Lionel Jayatilaka, travelled from Western Australia where he now lives, to meet his old friends, recalling their memorable time in England. Those present are mainly from the Klang Valley with a few from Ipoh and are among those who have survived the passage of time. Many have migrated to other countries. There are others from different batches to be found all over Malaysia. Their numbers are declining rapidly. We say with tongue in cheek that ours is an exclusive club because we do not admit new members. There are none to be had because the college is no more in existence to produce professionally-qualified teachers for the schools of this country.

The 21 who met for lunch were among the 150 nineteen and twenty year-olds who made up the 4th batch. They clambered aboard the British Overseas Airways Corporation Argonaut in August 1954 bound for London or Manchester, full of hopes and anticipation, to begin their two year training stint to become teachers. Compare to today’s flight time, it was a leisurely journey, with an overnight stopover at Speedbird House in Karachi. It took us the greater part of two days to get there

The 4th batch together with the 5th were among the 300 at Kirkby who were the first to hear from the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, during his visit on a freezing cold day on 7 February 1956 that Malaya would become an independent nation on 31st August, 1957.  The English winter did not seem to matter anymore. The news that we were to become a free nation warmed the cockles of our heart. We returned to Malaya just before Merdeka to celebrate and take teaching appointments across the nation.

Story by Tunku Abdul Aziz   Picture by Zainal Arshad

 

60 years on and still with a bubbling spirit