Hugh Karunanayake: “Alan Henricus – A Stalwart Sportsman of yesteryear passes away”
Alan Henricus, the youngest of five outstanding sporting brothers who represented their school Royal College, and their country then known as Ceylon, passed away a few days ago. He would have been 90 years of age if he survived up to his birthday in February next year.
The Henricus brothers grew up in Kohuwela where their father a former Feather Weight Boxing Champion of Ceylon lived. He served as an administrator of the sport first as Hony Secretary of the Amateur Boxing Association of Ceylon and later as its President. He helped build the Baptist Church in Nugegoda and was its Treasurer for 25 years. The road leading to their property was named Henricus Mawatha in honour of this outstanding family.
Alan represented Royal in Boxing, Athletics and Rugby, and won school colours in all three sports. He was also a school prefect, highly respected and regarded by both his school mates and staff. The family consisting of five brothers and two sisters were all nurtured in the best sporting traditions of colonial Ceylon. Eldest brother Barney represented Ceylon in boxing at the Empire Games and won a gold medal winning the feather weight title.. The next, Basil, held the national record for 100 yards sprint and I believe his record still stands. He also represented the Havelocks Sports CLub and All Ceylon at Rugby. The next brother George, for many years the Master Attendant in the Colombo Port, was also a champion boxer, as was Derrick a national boxing champion, the fourth in line.
Remarkable sportsmen such as Alan reached their great heights from a base of raw innate talent fostered by regular training and a disciplined approach to life. When I was a ten year old schoolboy I used to watch with awe and admiration Alan doing his training run at 6 a.m in the morning, jogging all the way from his home in Kohuwela to the Havelock Park and back on most weekends. Alan was senior to me in school by about three years and in those days that was an age gap filled with respect and admiration for a senior student. To us younger kids the high achieving Alan was a hero. I recall in one Public Schools Athletics meet for the Tarbat Cup, either in 1950 or 1951,Royal College was able to obtain a total of 15 points only, and were never serious contenders for the trophy. However the 15 points that Royal earned was almost single handedly collected through Alan’s efforts. He won the pole vault event, was first in the 120 metres hurdles, and was a member of the 4 X 400 metre relay team which won the event. Although the Tarbat Cup was won by another school, the assembled gathering of Royalists carried Alan shoulder high around the grounds!
From school he was selected for training as a Naval officer cadet in Dartmouth in Devonshire in England. Fellow Royalists the late Norman Gunawardena, and Humphrey Wijesinghe were among the cadets who were selected for Dartmouth together with Alan. On returning to Ceylon after his naval training at Dartmouth, he served the Royal Ceylon Navy for several years until retirement. On retirement from the Navy he served for a short period as an Executive in a Mercantile firm in Colombo, before migrating with his family to Australia.
The stint at Dartmouth would carry many precious memories for him, as that was where he met Maureen the love of his life. On migrating to Australia in the 1970s Alan joined the Royal Australian Navy which he served with distimction as Lieut Commander. On my migrating to Australia in 1984 I met Alan and Maureen at a Sunday luncheon hosted by the late Brendon Goonratne. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and Alan and Maureen remained very close friends of ours. Over the years we used to meet every three months at lunch at the Rosehill Bowling Club organized for old Royalist Seniors through the initiative of Chandra Senaratne. Other social engagements over the years have strengthened our friendship, and it was with deep distress that I heard of his terminal illness about two months ago. I rang him immediately and he was stoic as ever, the brave naval officer that he was. He said in no uncertain terms that he was not seeking to extend his life on this earth, and that he would wait in his home until the final call. Alan’s departure marks another severance with the old Ceylon we knew, and its traditions and honorable ways. The Last Post will be played at his funeral at the Baptist Church, Epping on Friday 2 December at 3pm. He is survived by his dear wife Maureen, sons Andrew and Richard,, daughter in law Caroline, and grandson Ryan.
“The song is ended but the melody lingers on “
Farewell dear Alan.