DISTINGUISHED PETERITE NATIONAL AWARD RECIPIENTS
On the 20th of March, 2017 His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena honoured among others five distinguished Peterites with the highest honour of the Nation.
Distinguished Peterites Deshamanya Abbasally Akbarally, Deshamanya Mineka Wickremasinghe and Deshabandu Dr. Lakshman Weerasena were honoured for their distinguished service of a highly meritorious nature to the nation, and Vidya Jyothi Professor Wilfred Mendis and Vidya Jyothi Professor Rohan Jayasekara were honoured for outstanding scientific and technological achievements involving original research.
The Rector, the Priest Community, the Members of the Tutorial Staff and the Student Body of St. Peter's College, Colombo 04 expressed their deepest sense of honour, appreciation and recognition to these Distinguished Peterite National Award Recipients at a special Felicitation Ceremony exclusively organized for this momentous occasion on the 26th of October 2017.
Family members, friends of the Distinguished Peterite National Award Recipients as well as many Distinguished Old Peterites were present for this historic occasion.
1. Deshamanya Abbasally Akbarally
Akbar Brothers (Pvt) Limited
Akbar Brothers Exports (Pvt) Limited
Quick Tea (Pvt) Limited
Falcon Trading (Pvt) Limited
Akbar Pharmaceuticals (Pvt) Limited
Hotel Reefcomber Limited (Resigned – 2003)
Falcon Properities (Pvt) Limited
Flexiprint (Pvt) Limited
A.B. Development (Pvt) Limited
A.B. Properties (Pvt) Limited
Mosaic Art (Pvt) Limited
Energy Reclamation (Pvt) Limited
OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS/ACTIVITIES :
Appointed a Justice of the Peace on 2nd November 1984.
Conferred the title of NKD by His Holiness SEYEDNA MOHAMED BURAHNUDIN for service to the community.
Surveyor/Assessor for Tea of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce since 1994 to date.
UNCTAD Committee on Tea - Advisor
Member of the Panel of Arbitrators since 1995 to date.
Founder of The Colombo Tea Traders’ Charity Trust (Now retired).
Member of the Tea Promotion & Marketing Committee.
Committee Member of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (1974 – 1977).
Chairman - Colombo Tea Traders’ Association (1974-1977).
Honorary Consul for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – 30th November, 2005 to January 2016.
Conferred the title of Deshamanya (Pride of the Nation) on 20/3/2017 by the President of Sri Lanka.
2. Deshamanya Mineka Wickremasinghe
Mr Mineka Presantha Wickramasingha's early education at St. Peter’s College, Colombo 4 and later qualified in Food Technology from the University of South Bank, UK.
After his return from UK, he developed a programme for the Ministry of Health and Education of Sri Lanka, along with CARE USA, to supply high protein biscuits for school children Island wide which was acclaimed worldwide.
He is an entrepreneur who has been responsible in setting up industries in the Confectionery, Canning and Hospitality trade and held the position of Chairman of most of these industries in the group including the holding company, Ceylon Biscuits Limited.
In June 2015, after approaching 50 years of his career, he resigned from the Chairmanship of Ceylon Biscuits Limited and the directorate of the Group companies and now holds an honorary position as President Emeritus.
He is one of the most respected businessmen in the country and is frequently consulted by Senior Politicians and Technocrats particularly when formulating government policies.
In his spare time, he writes and contributes regularly to the newspapers. His “Play Mate” won the State Literary Award in 1996 for short stories. His latest publication is a novel - “E-danda”.
3. Deshabandu Dr. Lakshman Weerasena
Dr. Lakshman Lucian Weerasena joined St. Peters in 1948 and passed the University Entrance Exam in 1962 and joined medical faculty Colombo, and graduated in, 1968.
During his school carrier at St.Peters, he captained the athletics team and was the head prefect of the school in 1962. during the rectorship of Rev. Fr. Arthur Fernando.
He was also a member of the Sinhala Orchestra under Rev. Fr Marcelline Jayakody.
He was a member of the English debating team and was the general secretary of the Catholic Students Federation in 1960.
After graduation in 1968 from Colombo medical faculty, he served as an Assistant Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo in 1971 and conducted over 200 autopsies.
Was vice president of the college of General Practitioners in 1984, and was awarded fellowship of the college in 1971.
Was president of Independent Medical Practitioners Association from 1991-1993.
Initiated island wide free health camps and treated nearly one million patients to date, having completed 578 successful health camps, held 40 Tsunami relief health camps in 2004. A presidential award of Deshabandu was awarded by His Excellency the President in appreciation of his services to humanity in march 2017 for the island wide health camp projects.
In several health camps, a combined free legal aid camp was held with reputed attorneys of the Bar association of Sri Lanka.
Served as health minister’s nominee in the Sri Lanka medical council under ministers A. H. M. Fowzie and Nimal Siripala Silva.
Was the first G. P. family physician to be president of the Medico-Legal Society of Sri Lanka from 2003-2005 also served as the treasurer of the International Association of Forensic Sciences from 2003-2009 and as vice president from 2009-2012.
Was awarded the 1st prize for presentation on the incidence of aids in Sri Lanka, at the IAFS conference in 1997 in Kobe, Japan. Had represented Sri Lanka at over 15 IAFS conferences in various countries and presented papers.
Served as IMPA representative in the Sri Lanka Narcotics Board, conducted several workshops in Kandy, Anuradhapura and Matara for JMO’s, police officers and judges, on important aspects of investigation and prosecution procedures.
The judicial experience gained was helpful in giving evidence in the Rev. Mathew Peiris murder case which helped the prosecution to convict him for murder.
Has conducted the family practice attachment for medical students from North Colombo Medical College, Colombo Medical Faculty, Sri Jayawardenapura and Kelaniya medical faculties and at present serve as a GP mentor for the college of general practitioners Sri Lanka.
4. Vidya Jyothi Professor Wilfred Mendis
Professor Willie Mendis was formerly the Vice Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa.
His vision was to establish it as the nation's Centre for Technological Excellence.
The transformation involved the upscaling of the traditional Engineering & Architecture Programs,and the introduction of modern technologies based on Computing.
Consequently,the Computer Science & Engineering Degree Program that he steered anchored the foundation for it's straddling the other Degree Courses with Computer Technology.
He was also associated in the introduction of Internet in the country.
At another end of the technology spectrum, Professor Mendis introduced in the 1980's for the first time in Sri Lanka optical fiber technology in a limited layout in the Campus premises.
Around the same time,he initiated a research program conducted by the University's mechanical engineering Faculty to install Solar Power lighting in a Village to deter Elephants, instead of using kerosene oil-lit lamps.
Furthermore, a Solar Farm was established to provide lighting to a stretch of Campus street.
The complementary contribution of Professor Mendis has been his involvement in the establishment of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Modern Technologies in the vicinity of the University.
It was tasked by statute to promote the technologies of Computing,Communications,Robotics,Space Technology,& Energy, for the nation's development, through leapfrogging in them.
He foresaw the Centre being the Incubator for the University's Faculty & Students in their innovations.
Professor Mendis's outreach of outstanding service to Sri Lanka has included his roles in several other public sector institutions.
In addition,he has been a prime mover in pioneering a global outreach in S & T through technology transfer.
In recognition of these & a host of other outstanding contributions in the service of Sri Lanka,H.E.The President has bestowed upon Professor Mendis the Titular Title of Vidya Jothi.
5. Vidya Jyothi Professor Rohan Jayasekara
Prof. Rohan Waas Jayasekara a second generation Peterite, began his education in the Nursery of St Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya in 1953.
In 1967 having spent a continuous period of 14 years in College, he entered the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon – Peradeniya and passed out with honours in 1972.
In 1974 following a short stint in the state health service he joined the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo as a Lecturer.
Prof Jayasekara is a Medical Geneticist, a Fellow of the Galton Institute, London, a Chartered Biologist, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology London, a Commonwealth Research Scholar and a Commonwealth Senior Medical Fellow.
He is also an Honorary Fellow of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka and an Honorary Fellow of the College of Ophthalmologists of Sri Lanka.
Prof. Jayasekara holds a PhD in Cytogenetics which he obtained in 1980, while on a Commonwealth Research Scholarship at the Department of Human Genetics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK.
He was the Chair and Senior Professor of Anatomy and also the Founder Director of the Human Genetics Unit, of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, which he established in the country in 1983.
He is the pioneer who introduced and formally established the field of Human Genetics in Sri Lanka and is considered the ‘Father of Human Genetics’ in this country.
He had an illustrious career spanning 41 years in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and is also its immediate Past Dean.
In recognition of his exceptional record of service in teaching, research and administration to the University, he was honoured with the title of Emeritus Professor of Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo which he presently holds. He is in addition a member of the Council of the University of Colombo.
In the field of research, he has published extensively and is the recipient of the President’s Award for Scientific Publications for the past seven years.
In March this year he was conferred the Sri Lankan National Honour – Vidya Jyothi by His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.This was awarded for his outstanding scientific and technological achievements. It is the highest National Honour for Science awarded for outstanding contributions to the development of the country through dedicated work in the chosen field.
In 2015 he led a Research Team that produced over 350 Research Articles that were published in International and National Journals and presented at International Conferences.
Prof. Jayasekara, continues his academic and research activities at present as an Emeritus Professor serving the University of Colombo and other Universities in Sri Lanka.