This picture brought back memories. I knew Ashton Agar’s Great Grandfather from way back in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Mr. Plunkett worked at Walker Sons & Co Ltd as a car salesman and resided at Negombo. He had two daughters Sheila and Carmaline. (Bubbles). Sheila was married to Nala Hewawissa and Carmaline to Ron Forbes.
In the 1950’s the Demetagoda Christian Guild Recreation Club as a fund raiser organised its Annual September Dance at the Colombo Town Hall and the main attraction was the selection of the “Queen of the September Dance.” In 1957 the panel of Judges were Dr. P.R. Thiagarajah, Mr & Mrs Rajagopal, Mrs. Sita Parakrama, Mr Livy Wijemanne.
It was a difficult decision to arrive at and finally Mrs. Sheila Hewawissa was adjudged “Queen of the 1957 September Dance”. The runners-up were Mrs Joan Gilles (nee Craggs) and Miss Carmine Cooke. She received a handsome Silver Cup presented by popular showman Mr. A.R. Adam and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
The band in attendance was Mario Manricks & His Swingtette. The Compere for the night was Mr. Vernon Corea.
The Hewawissa’s and Forbes’s migrated to Australia. In Melbourne Carmaline and Ron took a keen interest in the Ceylon Welfare Organisation. Sadly, they have all departed, but leave happy and pleasant memories.
* Chip Le Grand and Pia Akerman: “The serene smiling face of Ashton Agar highlights multi-cultural Australia,” 13 July 2013, in Thuppahi
* “Lehmann makes an Agar Difference,” 7 July 2013, https://thuppahis.com/2013/07/13/the-serene-smiling-face-of-ashton-agar-highlights-multi-cultural-australia/
Alex Malcolm for ESPNcricinfo, “Australian Cricket Squads for Sri Lankan Tours: Meditations,” 4 May 2022 https://thuppahis.com/2022/05/04/australian-cricke-squads-for-sri-lankan-tour-meditations/
A PERTINENT APPENDIX from EARLSON FORBES in Sydney, 27 June 2022:
“Extending Charles Schokman’s narrative on Ashton Agar’s ancestry, let me say that …………… As Charles states, Ashton’s Great Grandfather was a ‘Plunkett’. The Plunketts are of Irish ancestry. Ashton’s Great Grandmother was a ‘Templer’. The Templers are also from the UK, but I am unsure from which specific part of the UK. The Plunketts had 6 children: four girls and two boys. Sheila was the eldest of the children and she was of striking beauty. No surprise that she won the ‘Queen of the 1957 September Dance’, as Charles tells us. Nala and Sheila married and set up their beautiful home in Kirillapone. The marriage was unusual for the time. Nala, a Kandyan Sinhalese and staunch Buddhist, married Sheila, a Burgher Catholic. Keep in mind their marriage occurred in the 1950s in Ceylon, when cultural and religious differences were still taboo in many quarters. Nala was employed at executive level at the Kolannawa Oil Installations. This resource was operated by the three major Oil Companies until 1964, when the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation took over.
The Plunkett family migrated to Australia in stages. All but two of Sheila’s siblings settled in Melbourne (two moved to Queensland). Nala and Sheila stayed on in Ceylon at the family home in Kirillapone. With the passage of time Nala and Sheila had four children; one of whom is Sonia, the mother of Ashton Agar. At or near Nala’s retirement, the family migrated to Australia joining most of the Plunkett family in Melbourne. The rest of the Ashton Agar story is well documented and needs no addition.
One last thing; Charles makes mention of one of Sheila’s sisters, Carmaline. Yes, Carmaline went on to achieve high honour as a social worker and volunteer. In her spare time, she organised entertainment, dinners and lunches for the less fortunate occupants of Aged Care Homes. So dedicated was Carmaline in this activity, that the residents as a gesture of gratitude nominated Carmaline for Australia Day Honour Awards. In recognition of her selfless work, Carmaline was awarded the AO (in the 1990s, in which specific year I cannot recall).