“Your Excellency, ladies, and gentlemen,
My great predecessors could not in their time,
Make a flattering speech through the channels of rhyme.
They poured forth a poem of ponderous prose,
In sentiments stilted and phrases verbose.
But a promising poet in me you shall see,
As after my speech you will all agree.
With loud acclamation and thunderous applause,
We welcome you here to our College because
Staunch is the loyalty that bids us await
The King’s representative here in our state.
We welcome your lady but where is Miss Joan?
I’m getting a wee bit familiar I own,
But by nature I’m gallant and surely I oughter,
Find a good rhyme for the Governor’s daughter.
Through this island of ours, you’ve gone wide and far,
I read that in Jaffna you smoked a cigar,
Though the road takes you East, though the road takes you West,
Here in Kandy, you’ll find the School that is the best.
And now that you’ve heard the speech of the wise,
And now that I’ve lauded you up to the skies,
And now that you’ve listened in startled surprise,
And commented perhaps on my stature and size.
And now that I know my friends will all say,
“Come on, Marambe, never say die!”
At least they, like the Assyrian, in Red, Blue, and Gold,
I ask for one holiday hoping that you
Will certify strongly that we shall have two!!”
– Vote of Thanks delivered by the Senior Prefect T.B. Marambe, at the College Prize Giving held in the Quadrangle on February 1938.
This was the first time the Vote of Thanks was proposed in verse at a Prize Giving. The speech was composed by Mr. Oswin Wright, a senior member of the College staff. The Chief Guest for the Prize Giving was Sir Andrew Caldecott, the Governor of Ceylon at the time (1937), to whom the poem is mainly addressed.
Please note, the Prize Giving was usually held in the Old College Main Hall until the year 1940, except for the 1937 Prize Giving which was held in 1938. (Centenary volume pg. 424)
One of the minor highlights at the Prize Day has been the Vote of Thanks by the Senior Prefect. It has always been the convention that he not only makes laudatory remarks about the chief guest but also asks for the customary Prize Day Holiday.
After years of this practice, Senior Prefects have always found new and creative ways of framing the request. Some of them have, in trying to be different and score a march over their predecessors, asked for two days and on one occasion even three days as holiday.
It is generally agreed, however, that in all these efforts, though not on Prize Day, it’s notable when the Senior Prefect (1945) Jim Cooke who made to Mr. Campbell here on a short visit in 1945 the briefest and the most irresistible appeal of all “Sir we wish you a happy holiday, we hope you wish us the same”.
Article by Shaahid Khaleel.