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Old 20-07-09, 01:58 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Miss L A L Blanchard by Dr.R L Hayaman

Miss L.A.L. Blanchard

By R.L.Hayaman
Dr.R.L. hayman was one time Headmaster of S. Tomas’ College, Gurutalawa. He was attached to Prep. School from its inception. He was a local manager of this school. He knew Miss blanchard very well and in fact he and Mrs. Hayman were like foster parents to her during her retirement in England. In this article Dr. Hayman portrays Miss. Blanchard very vividly, and places before the reader the work and character of this great lady.

Miss Blanchard took a large part in the foundation of the two S. Thomas’ Prep. Schools and with her death they lose a very loyal friend. She died of intestinal trouble followed by bronchial pneumonia and was only ill for about three days. She maintained her clearness of mind right up to the end, and was delighted when she got news of her Prep. School friends. She maintained a large correspondence with them. Her hand writing hardly changed as she grew older despite the effects of arthritis in their joints.

Mr. W. Keble had always wished to found an up country branch of the Prep. School and when the Navy commandeered the Kollupitiya branch, he had the incentive and the opportunity to act in the matter. He depended on Miss Blanchard to assist him the preparation for the opening of the school in Bandarawela and to take over much of the work concerned with the running of it.

In the course of time she took over the keeping of school accounts, teaching singing, making sweets, cakes for the tuck shop, providing boarding accommodation in her cottage and many other tasks.

Indeed, she not only built “Little Thatch” her cottage, at her own expense, but she also contributed a large sum of money towards the purchase of the land on which it and the “Farm” were built.

In her holidays her only companion in “Little Thatch” was her cat “Mischief” and despite more than one burglary she was never afraid to live alone. One burglar demanded her money through an open window and was difficult to persuade that she had nothing more than 50 cents. When at last he accepted her statement he vanished in the darkness calling over his shoulder “Cherio”. Previous to this, most of her small store of jeweler had been stolen, but she had the unusual good fortune to have a black opal ring returned some years after it was taken, whether the thief’s conscience pricked him or whether he thought the opal had brought bad luck I do not know.

She had many other adventures which would have deterred most people from living alone. Once, single-handed, she had to drive a herd of buffaloes out of her garden where they were destroying the fruits of her labours. Another time she could not find Mischief, then a kitten. In the end she looked out of the back door and saw her advancing slowly and deliberately towards a large cobra with its hood raised. They were only a couple of yards apart and Miss Blanchard, without hesitation dived forward, snatched up the kitten and backed into the cottage shutting the door behind her. Not many
People woke have taken such a risk, but she did not stop there, but decided to drive the snake away. Taking a bottle of kerosene in her hand she opened the door and slung the contents over the snake. It beat a hurried retreat and was not seen again.

When she was not engaged in such adventures she pursued her way quietly, never refraining from any task that would assist the smooth running of the school. She was very adept at reading out loud and the boarders in Little Thatch were always eager to hear her reading the adventures of the children in Arthur Ransom’s books.

Her piano was always at the disposal of the school and she herself was also an{ accomplished pianist and had a beautiful singing voice. She was so preoccupied with all these activities that she neglected her own needs and if left to herself did not bother to have good meals until the doctor put his foot down and insisted on her feeding more adequately.

She was a devout Christian and never doubted, even in the most trying circumstances, that God would see everything should work for good in the long run. When she left Bandarawela and came to England she had only a minute income, far less than the normal expenditure of such a person as herself. Vet, as things turned out she not only’ made ends meet, but actually had a small but useful balance in the bank as a result! of help from the department of Social Security. This made her very happy beaters she had dreaded that she might become a burden to her friends.

In her last years her great interest was in the progress of another Keble, and one of another Keble, and one of the highlights of that period was attending his wedding, and another was visiting his house in London after he left Canada to make a home in England. It makes us sad that she died only three days before Anthony’s son was born. She had so looked forward to seeing the baby and had even been knitting some warm ‘woolies’ for him before she died.

So, a dear friend has parted from us, one who never faltered in the service to the Prep. School and to Sri Lanka, and one who had no enemies but rather a host of friends made in the half century following her arrival in Ceylon.

Miss. Lydia Blanchard entered into eternal rest on September 25th, 1976 at the age of 93 years
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