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Some are born great.. some achieve greatness.. and others have greatness thrust upon them

Rev. R. W. Stopford

Rev. R. W. Stopford (1935 – 1941)

In 1935, when Rev. Campbell resigned, his place was taken by a man of his own choice, Rev. R. W. Stopford whom he had known since 1920 and with whom he had frequently stayed while on leave at home. At the time of his appointment to Trinity Rev. Stopford was House Master at Oundell, having had a most distinguished academic career at Oxford.

Rev. Stopford came out at a time of radical reappraisal of the educational system of Ceylon and he found himself, almost on arrival, a Member of the Commission on Education. This, as he has pointed out himself, was of the greatest benefit to him and the school for it gave him straightaway, the opportunity of realising how the English school system needed to be adapted to the requirements of Ceylon. His membership on the Council of the University College and of the Planning Committee for the University to be established at Peradeniya, gave him further insights into how schools like Trinity could and should adjust themselves to the new situation. No longer could the old missionary foundations go unchallenged and among the problems that demanded immediate attention were those connected with foreign direction through the C.M.S., the medium of instruction, religion and culture, and finally the aims and content of education.

From the start, therefore, Rev. Stopford saw clearly the lines of future development and before he left he had already mapped them out. The constitution of the school was altered so as to vest control in a Board of Governors in Ceylon. Even more significant, Sinhala and Tamil were made the media of instruction in the Primary School some years before it became the law. English was retained as the Second Language, and, at that time, Rev. Sropford’s plan was that at the Secondary all pupils should have acquired enough English to switch it to it as the medium of instruction. Then again, he attacked the system by which an arid academic education was inflicted on those not fitted for it and he developed practical courses that promised a new future for them. In this too, he was well ahead of his time for it is only now that this problem is being seriously tackled. In his own words – “One of my objectives was that Trinity should be so sensitive to educational developments that it anticipated by voluntary action what might subsequently become official Government policy.”

If Rev. Stopford was sensitive to the educational needs of the day and he gave of his services to the whole island, he did not neglect the other aspects of his duties as Principal. Apart from inspiring his senior pupils in their study of History, he attended himself to a thousand and one details in the running of the school; the finances of the school were improved, the entire debt to the C.M.S. being paid off; greater efficiency in class-room and outside became evident. A new hospital, the gift of an Old Boy in memory of his son, a new Tuckshop beside the old and a new diesel pump to improve the water supply of the school, all made their appearance in five short years. But the greatest contribution in this respect that Rev. Stopford made was the construction of the magnificent new Hall, another gift of another Old Boy. In the building of this hall Rev. Stopford played a most prominent part, having designed the stage and installed the lighting system himself- the best of their kind in the island at that time.

Since leaving Achimota where he had followed in Rev. Fraser’s footsteps in January 1941 Rev. Stopford has had a most distinguished career in the Church and is now the Bishop of London.

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