Dear friends,

Happy New Year to everybody. Let’s hope and pray this year will bring us happiness and prosperity.

Last year Kirkbyite activities were quite active both in Malaysia and overseas. We had a few “get-together” and “Reunions” and many other small gatherings of Kirkbyites here and there. Lets hope that this year will be the same. As we are getting older day by day we need to meet once a while before we call it a day.

During last year gatherings an interesting thing happened. Now our children are beginning to be interested in our activities and they are keen to know more about ‘Kirkby College’ where their fathers were once students there. In this series we will read a few notes/comments from son of a Kirkbyite and the children of Kirkby lecturers.

 

Zainal Abidin Manaf

 

 

Third Batch Kirkby – 1953-55

February 2007, 27th Series

c/o 1018 Lorong Gunung Rapat 2

31350 Ipoh, Perak

Tel: 05-3127411

H/phone:019-5712535

E-mail: haji02@pd.jaring.my

 
                                  

 

 

 

 

 


 

The following are conversations between a Kirkbyite’s son and children of Kirkby Lecturers.

En Azizi b Ahmad Tarmizi, son of a Kirkbyite has applied to join the  MTTC_Kirkby@yahoogroups.com. The following are the results of the transaction:

 

1. A note from Frank Moorhead to Tan Ling Suan:

 

Dear Tan Ling Suan

Thank you for your advice. The applicant has replied with more details. His father is AHMAD TERMIZI MAT NOR ( photo of his Kirkby days below) and attended Kirkby between 1956 and 1958. After a distinguished career (like all Kirkbyites!), he retired in 1991.

         His son Azizi Ahmad Termizi, who wants to join the group, is a town planning officer in Putrajaya.

         I intend to accept this application on October 22 unless there are valid objections from members before then.

         As I said earlier, I like the idea of the children of Kirkbyites joining but think we should be careful with such applications. We don't want anyone to obtain fraudulent access to this important group.

 

 Kind regards

Frank

 

2. The reply from En Azizi:

Greetings to all MTTC members

   Thank you for allowing me to join this group even though I was not there in Kirkby (in fact not even  born yet) when all of you were being trained to become teachers. As this is my first mail to the group, allow me to introduce myself.

         My name is Azizi Ahmad Termizi. My father is Ahmad Termizi Mat Nor who trained in Kirkby between 1956 to 1958. Some of his contemporaries in Kirkby I think included Isa Ramli, Marmuji Koso and Jaafar Saidin.

         After Kirkby my father taught at a number of schools in Perak before becoming a headmaster at Kampung Gajah Secondary School (1965 - 1971. Following that he was posted at various education offices around Perak including stints in Kuala Kangsar, Tapah,  Telok Intan, and Ipoh before retiring in 1991.

         My father hails from Layang-Layang Kiri, Parit, Perak. Since retiring he has been staying in Kampung Kepayang, Ipoh. He is now 72 and enjoys the occasional visits of his grandchildren especially during the weekends.

         As for me, I am a town planner at Putrajaya Corporation, Putrajaya, Malaysia. I was trained at the University of Manchester after doing my A-Levels in Blackpool, Lancashire.

         When I was a kid I used to hear stories from my father about his training in England. There were also black and white photos of his days in Kirkby. But that was years ago. The stories are now very vague, and the photos, well...there are not that many of them anymore. 

         I think the Kirkby days are very special to my father. Even as a kid I could sense it. Now that I'm all grown up and have kids of my own I feel proud that he was one of a few to have been chosen to train in faraway England in those days.

         Through this group I wish I could learn more not just about what my father went through, but also about this select and proud group of people who contributed immensely to education in Malaysia.

 

Regards

Azizi Ahmad Termizi

 

3. Suddenly a note came from Helen Jones, daughter of our lecturer Mr H.L.Jones:……..

 

Hello, Azizi.

I am sure your father will be delighted to know you have joined the group and are in contact with his friends.

         Like you, I was not a student at Kirkby. My name is Helen Livesey-Jones. My father was a lecturer there and we lived on campus. I would have been three years old when your father arrived, my sister, Fran, would have been ten.

         I do hope your father will be able to share this site with you and perhaps send a message to or get in contact with some of those with whom he has lost touch. At least you will be able to print of some fresh pictures of Kirkby for him!

 

Welcome to the group!!

Helen Livesey-Jones

 

4. The reply from En Azizi:

 

Dear Helen

Thank you so much for your message. You were not a student at Kirkby, but you lived on campus. As for me, I have only seen old pictures of it...with those distinctively looking pipes running all over! What were those pipes for, if I may ask?

         I did my A-levels in Blackpool and my degree in Manchester. But out of sheer ignorance I did not even bother to look for Kirkby which would have been only about an hour's train ride away. I hear that the campus in no more in existence?

Regards

 

Azizi

 

5. Then a letter appeared from Frank Moorhead to En Azizi:

 

Dear Azizi:

Like Helen and her elder sister Fran, I lived on campus with my family when my Dad was a lecturer at the College in the early 1950s. If my memory serves me correctly, the pipes you mention were for central heating and were well-ladded with black-coated fiber of some kind (asbestos maybe?*!) covered by something like chicken wire. Indeed, the single-storey wood, brick and breeze block "huts" in which we lived were very warm in winter. I believe the campus was originally a munitions factory during WWII, and was taken over by the (then) Malayan government some years later (before Merdeka).

 

My parents and Helen's were very good friends and had many good times together, leaving us young children (I lived on campus between the ages of 5 and 7 or 8, I think) in the excellent care of some of the students who kindly acted as babysitters. My late wife Mutsuko and I met Helen, her elder sister Fran and their wonderful mother Mary briefly in Wales 3-4 years ago and shared some wonderful memories of those happy times. Helen in particular is still close friends with my sister Ann, who was born in the College just before we moved to a bigger house in nearby Melling, and has now been living in Paris for some 20 years.

 

I went by the college site many years ago, but it was all locked up and inaccessible. From what I've heard, it is now quite an extensive residential area extending from the Liverpool - Wigan – Manchester railway line to the boundaries of Waddicar village. Even the road that used to run alongside the railway from Kirkby Station to the College gates seems to have disappeared. But I think the Kirkby Store is still there!

 

Many of these new houses must have been built on the extensive playing fields, where students played hockey, cricket, rugby, soccer and many other sports. Looking at a map of the area, I suspect that the huge M57 motorway probably runs close to where these playing fields used to end.

 

Kind regards

Frank

 

 

 

 

Then I chipped in:

Dear Azizi,

I am very glad to hear from you, a son of a Kirkbyite. Your father's name is quite familiar. Perhaps I must have met him when I was working at the Education Dept Ipoh (1980-1987). I am 1953-1955 batch.

Perhaps your Dad can remember me. You know the juniors always remember the seniors!

I have been producing Kirkby Newsletter since 2001. I produce one every three months. So far I have produced 26 series.

I would be very grateful if your dad can contact me - Phone 05-3127411 or 019-5712535

Regards

 

Zainal Manaf

 

The reply I received:

 

Tuan Haji Zainal

I talked to my father over the phone yesterday. Of course he knows you! He said to me. But being from a different batch, he said he does not know you as well as his friends from the same batch (1956-58) like Marmuji, Jaafar Saidin etc.

         Thank you for offering me the Newsletter. My handphone No. is 012-2845188. I am staying in Cheras, but if you give me a call I shall try and make it to Putrajaya. It would be a privilege to meet.

 

Regards

Azizi

 

It seemed Azizi wanted to know more about Kirkby and replied to Frank as follows:

 

Dear Frank,

Based on your brief description of the site of the campus, I would make a guess that the campus was located somewhere in the area bounded by the present M57 motorway (on the west), the railway line (north), the County Road (east) and the Valley Road/Hall Lane (south) as shown at this site:

http://www.picturesofengland.com/England/Merseyside/Kirkby/maps  (please zoom in on the map). Am I close enough, or way off? 

         Unfortunately I could not locate on the map the Waddicar Village, the Kirkby Store nor the  Kirkby Railway Station which you mentioned in your mail. This would have helped further to identify the exact location.

 

Regards

Azizi

 

……………….. and Frank wrote him a long description of the locality of Kirkby College ……….

 

Dear Azizi:

You're quite close but I think the key is to find South Park Road, immediately north of the railway line. If you zoom in using the Map+Photo (Google Maps is marvellous!) you'll see Glover's Brow running roughly N<>S across the railway line and bisecting Kirkby Station (the platform looks white-ish in the photo). You'll see a road, marked with a red arrow, running roughly SW parallel to the railway line, with South Park Road branching right about halfway down. However, the road parallel to the railway line narrows and continues a little before coming to a halt. My paper map doesn't show this, but this is where the College gates used to be!

         I guess the College fence used to run parallel to South Park Road from that point to roughly where Mount Road is marked on the map (it's marked twice, but I'm referring to the lower marking), then down to Wilsford Avenue before curving back towards the railway line. This means that Swinderby Drive, Partridge Road and Granborne Chase are new developments on the original College site.

         I'm not sure if the College occupied that entire area, but I do remember "The Path" which ran alongside a ditch just outside the fence from outside the College gate to Mount Road (which used to end at the fence) then across some rough land into Station Road. You'll see that Mount Road runs SW until it meets Halton Wood. I suspect the straight bit of road running SE from the junction of the two follows the line of the original Path, so if you draw a continuation line from there to where the College gates used to be (ie parallel to South Park Road), that gives you the NE boundary of the College.

 

It's not immediately apparent from the Map/Photo, but the railway line is on a steep enbankment here, and I believe the strip of land immediately north of it is probably the last remnant of the playing fields.

         I'm afraid I misled you by using the name Waddicar village. I'm pretty sure that this was what people called this part of Melling (ie along Waddicar Lane) in those days, but it certainly appears to be called Melling now. You might be interested to know that my family moved from the college to a big farmhouse on Waddicar Lane. The map and the photograph appear to be a little out of sync here, but you'll see Chapel Lane on the left, with a clump of trees immediately to the north of it.

         This is St Kentigern's Catholic Church, where the Catholic students from the College would go to Mass, naturally using The Path, Station Road and Waddicar Lane to get there.

         If you continue N along Waddicar Lane, there's a short road to the left, which leads to a farm (the name of the farm and the people who lived there slips my mind, but we often used to play there). Our house is across the road from that farm. There's one more house to the N of ours, which used to belong to the priest from St Kentigern's, who went by the very Lancashire name of Fr Ramsbottom.

         I hope my explanation is coherent! It's quite difficult to explain something like this...

 

Best regards

Frank

 

……… then came in Helen  …………

 

Hello Aziz

Yes Frank is right. Those pipes were for the central heating and it was incredibly warm!! I remember we moved to a detached house in Crewe when we left Kirkby. A bed room upstairs and NO central heating that first winter!! It was SOO cold !! Those Kirkby huts were well insulated and very comfortable indeed!!

 

Helen

 

From Azizi to Helen:

 

Dear Helen

Thank you for the link to Kirkby Times. Reading the article, and from the explanation you and Frank have given on the on campus environment, I now have some fair idea of what MTTC members experienced and enjoyed during their two years stay in Kirkby.

         Frank's detailed description on the location of the college is very interesting too. In fact if I were to go to Kirkby today, I should be able to guess and find the campus former site. Sadly, the only place remaining from that period is the "Kirkby Store"? It is said to be located just outside the campus. Could it possibly be located somewhere along the current South Park Road?

 

thanks and regards

 

Azizi

 

Frank came to the rescue ……

Dear Azizi:

If my memory serves me correctly, we walked up the road alongside the railway line from the college gates until we reached Glover's Brow, and Kirby Store was just across the road to the left. It's a bit difficult to tell from the arial photo, but it may be in the first group of buildings on the right hand side of Glover's Brow above the railway line.

 

Best regards

Frank

 

Dear Frank,

Thanks for your pointers on the location of the Kirkby Store. However I have got some recent (I think...) but sad pictures of the Kirkby store. If that is the state of condition of the store now, ( see photo ) then I'm afraid it won't be long when another Kirkby landmark from that era is lost forever!?

 

Regards 

Azizi

 

From Zainal Arshad,

 

Dear Zainal Abidin Manaf,

I received an e-mail recently from a Gerry Powell who was born in Kirkby.  He read my article in the Kirkby Times and wrote to me. I am forwarding his e-mail in the hope that you can include it in your next newsletter. 

Regards.

Zainal Arshad

 

Dear Zainal Arshad,

I just read your fascinating on-line account of your time spent at the Kirkby Fields Teachers Training College in the 1950’s.

         I lived nearby, twenty or so meters before the college entrance, on the right side of the South Park Road, at the bottom of the right side was Mount Road. I was born there in 1945 and lived there until I left the area to seek my fortune in 1967.

         Your article brought back my happy memories. I remembered my mother worked in the college kitchen for a time and once she brought some exotic, spicy left-overs home for a treat. Wow never tasted like that before.

         I recalled, as youngster sitting on the fence by the railway line near the college gates and chatting to the student teachers. I particularly remember the bright colours of your national dress, they really added a flash of colour to our village.

         Another memory – We used to, and still do, celebrate Guy Fawkes night on November 5th. This was an occasion to light bonfires and discharge fireworks. There was a tradition then for kids to make a dummy from old clothes stuffed with paper and hawk this thing around the streets asking passer-by for “a penny for the guy” when a Malayan teacher gave us half a crown.  (2 shillings & 6 pence) an absolute fortune at the time!

         The Kirkby I knew and loved has changed beyond recognition now, not necessarily for the better but your article helped rekindle many memories of my childhood.

 

Regards

 

Gerry Powell.

Senior Engineer, Mott MacDonald,

Victoria House, Trafalgar Place, Brighton,

BN 1 4FY, U.K.

 

I received a letter from Theresa McLaughlin ( Lee Siok Kim ) from 13712 Blackburn Avenue, White Rock, B.C. V4B-2Y8, Canada:

 

Greetings to all Kirkbyites especially those of (1954-56),

When I received the invitation to the 2006 re-union at Genting Highlands (August 12-13) I felt honoured to be still remembered after all these years, half a century to be exact.

         I had not been to any reunion but I can imagine the fun in remembering the happy times in “Kampong Kirkby” as we grew in maturity. I keep in touch with Siew San IMrs Haw Chai Kee).

         My family and I had been coming to Canada since 1967 and finally in 1975 we settled in the sea-side town, White Rock in British Columbia (the real Canada, my husband used to say)  The weather is milder in winter and cooler in summer than the rest of Canada. My dear husband, George had passed away 15 years this coming December 2006. I had two daughters (nurses) and one son (teacher) and 4 lovely grandchildren, 3 boys and 1 girl ages ranging from 13 to 6 years.

 

Theresa

 

I received an interesting and nostalgic article from Dr Nurudin Jamin ( 1952-1954) relating his wonderful memories of Kirkby days. I am sure after reading this article there are many of us who have encountered wonderful, exciting and memorable experiences during Kirkby days. So I hope to get some feed back about their own personal experiences relating to things such as teaching practice, food, holidays, cycling, hitch-hiking etc. This will be interesting articles to read in our next newsletter, I hope! Please la… write something!!!

 

FADING GLIMPSES OF KIRKBY

 

What would I tell my grandchildren, eleven of them altogether, about Kirkby College? There are so many memories of the institution where I was a student teacher about half a century ago (1952-1954).Perhaps I would start from the time when fifty of us, young men and women, ( the second group of three flights) boarded the four-engine military cargo plane with made=shift canvas seats from Sungai Besi Airport, Kuala Lumpur. It took us four days to reach London, with night stops at Calcutta, Karachi, and Beirut. For lunch (and also for re-fueling ) we had to land at Bangkok, Bahrain and Rome. The plane (not pressurized) seldom flew higher than 8,000 feet (compared to 35,000 feet or about seven miles now) with the result that we encountered many air pockets and went into frightening air turbulence twice – once a rainstorm over Burma (Myanmar) and the sandstorm over Saudi Arabia. Everyone was airsick!

The train ride at noon from Euston Station, London, to Lime Street Station, Liverpool., ( a distance of about 200 miles – 320 Km.) took exactly four hours. Around five o’clock, after traveling in two coaches (buses), we were already at Kirkby College. What a shock and disappointment when we saw the black barrack-like low wooden structure with similar coloured hot water pipes criss-crossing above the eleven H-shaped blocks. We were expecting some imposing buildings, certainly not less than our beautiful English schools in Malaya. (The only plain red-brick buildings were that of the administrative together with the hall cum gymnasium, the adjacent dining hall beside the students’ common room, the sick bay, the needlework room and the single male lecturers’ quarters) Many felt homesick!

The daily routine of the two-year college life was lectures in the morning and afternoon, Mondays to Fridays, Saturday and Sunday were free. The courses were that of what a teacher should be equipped with for teaching in the primary and lower secondary schools. The familiar school subjects (English/Malay Language, geography, history, mathematics, science, art and craft, physical education etc.) were offered as basics as well as options. In addition there were Education Psychology, Philosophy of Education, Methodology in Teaching, etc. Music was confined to learning how to play the recorder.

 

Coming from a tropical country, where the only seasons are the rainy and not so rainy, and the weather is hot and clammy, the English weather can be bewildering in the extent that (sometimes jokingly mentioned) summer, autumn, winter and spring could happen in a single day! Winter months could be very depressing. Other then short days hours – nine o’clock in the morning it was still dark, and by three thirty in the afternoon it was already night – the sun seldom appeared and the and the sky was forever cloudy, gloomy and wet. (two teaching practices were held in the winter months!). Kirkby being close to the sea, was wind-swept area. The eerie howling sound of the wind in the middle of the wintry night could easily scare the bravest among the Malaya students. Fortunately, the provided single small cubical was so cosy and comfy. Not many places in England them had central heating system.

Malayan food was something that everybody missed. One has to adapt to the bland English cooking. Considered the best of not so palatable dishes was roast beef and brown watery gravy taken together with meshed potatoes and Brussels sprout/green peas/lima beans etc. Rice(always soggy) and curry (thick yellowish-brown gravy with one or two small cubes of meat, if one was at all lucky) was served once a week. No wonder many of those who could afford them, would feast themselves with white rice, sweet and sour fish, bean sprout beef, or fried noodles/rice at Nanking or Central (Chinese) restaurants in the city during the weekends after shopping at Lewiss’/Woolworth/Mark & Spencer, etc. Or, at the Fish and Chips’ corner shop at just outside the college gate on certain evenings.(At first tomato sauce was free, But after a few times when a full bottle was consumed by four persons at one sitting three pence was charged for a small dish of the stuff) Or, one could go to the Cottage for a three-course meal. Some parents could occasionally send food parcels for their daughters and sons although the postage would cost two or three times more than the content of the boxes. And it took about a month for the parcel to arrive by sea mail. In 1952 certain items such as sugar, tea, eggs and even cloth was still rationed. The weekly allotment could only be purchased by producing a provided coupons e.g. although there were a lot of sweets and chocolates in numerous big tray on display ay Woolworth a person could only buy a quarter pound of either in one week. That was his or her ration for the period. Many students (on the advice of people at home before they left) chose to buy winter clothes in England. The small-built ones had to go to the children’s department for their size.

Text Box: Continental Tour 
The man in white shirt is the Bus Driver. We named him ‘Gary Cooper’
Almost everybody took the opportunity to travel during even a short term break of one week. They either went on their own or through arrangements made by British Council, staying mostly at Youth Hostels or with families. During the long summer holidays many would go to the continent i.e. the countries in Europe. A few of them even cycled to the Artic region in Norway. One less adventurers mixed group of thirty organized a coach tour for a month to see Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. It cost quite a lot – seventy pounds per person. (One pound then was equivalent to eight ringgit and sixty sen.) When the Vice Principal was approached that the trip could be regarded as an educational tour the retort was that ‘what can one learn from five countries in a month?’ Not much perhaps, but we gained some valuable experiences. We saw the massive destruction in Germany – the result of the carpet bombing during World War II. We encountered the pride

of the French people who refused to speak other than their own language. We wondered at the beautiful scenery of the Swiss country – it was affected by War. And we faced the problem in communicating as none of us could converse in any European language except English. We had to resort to using our own version of sign language in order to make ourselves understood.

There were a number of recreational activities available. The most popular appeared to be the informal dances (ballroom) in the hall on Saturday nights. Some who could not dance well, took lesson at the British Council in Liverpool. The various societies and clubs could organize meetings, lectures, visits and outings (including mountain climbing).

Teaching practice prepared for students for the noble future vocation. The manner of class in  selected schools in and around Liverpool was conducted during those three practices taken during the two years’ of college seemed to indicate the potential capabilities of the would be teacher. Hence a grade was given in the end of several observations. Teaching in the Lancashire environment, in the dock area especially, was real challenge, for the pupils’ spoken and written language was no Queen’s English. One had to get used to their kind of dialect. The lady teacher whose class I took over during the last practice recommended that I should get a credit, instead of just a pass. So Her Majesty’s School Inspectorate was called in for the final assessment. There were four observers – the inspectorate, my personal tutor, the school headmaster, and the class teacher – seating at the back of the classroom scrutinizing a story telling (the wily Malayan Sang Kancil and the Crocodiles) lessons. Pictures were shown, charts were hung, a brief drama was enacted, questions and answers were exchanged, sufficient oral and written work was provided. The class gave its utmost support by being enthusiastic, active and concentrated in what was being presented. The Inspectorate, however, was not in the least impressed, much to the disappointment of the other three observers and myself. Only a pass was awarded.

One momentous event that took place in 1953 was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2nd June. Two coach loads of us left Kirkby at about 9.00 the previous evening. By 4 o’clock the next morning we arrived in London. We made our way to Hyde Park Corner, only to find that there were people already camping by the road on both sides, three of four rows deep. The procession was due to pass only at five in the evening! The mid-summer was more of a wintry day with overcast sky and occasional drizzle. When the procession finally passed, we at rte back of four or five rows of much taller spectators, could only hear the galloping of the horses and the cheering of the crowd. On hindsight it would be much wiser to see the whole procession on TV (black-and-white) in the college staff common room. But then we could not claim that we were at the celebration!

Today, if my grandchildren want to visit the Kirkby College, which they have herad so much from their grandfather, and which was a home away from home for some 1,500 students during the ten year existence, it is no more. The spaces sprawling open area has been replaced by a housing estate. What remains is the only memory in the minds of that generation of teachers which is slowly disappearing. It is indeed a great pity if nothing is written for posterity about it in the form of a book, be it its history, a collection of episodes or even a novel, etc., before everything fades into oblivion. Surely with a concerted effort, an inspired individual, or a group of concerned Kirkbians could get together, to either undertake or sponsor, to write about the college without delay. Time is fast running out!

 

Nurudin     

   

Dear friends,

In my previous Newletters I did mention about “Dewan Kirkby” at Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun,  Mengkuang, Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang. I have been in contact with Encik Ismail Bakar about our idea of decorating the “Dewan” with Kirkby photographs and other interesting articles. Encik Ismail contacted the college and he has received a very favourable reply. The gist of the reply is as follows:

 

“…..Terlebih dahulu saya bagi pihak Pengarah dan juga pihak pengurusan Institut dengan besar hati mengucapkan berbanyak terima kasih atas kesudian pihak tuan menyumbangkan album dan juga gambar-gambar untuk digantungkan dan sejilid buku yang menghuraikan sejarah penubuhan Maktab Kirkby. Pihak Pengarah amat bersetuju atas cadangan pihak tuan itu…..”

 

         So far I have received very few exhibits which I think are too few to send to the college. I have received three group photographs of batches 1958, 1959, & 1960. I have yet to receive photographs of other 7 batches. I have received a few water-colour paintings from Dr Shaari (3rd Batch). Tuan Haji Ramli Shaari (2nd batch) gave me a big photo of Kirkby College on cloth. That’s all I have received so far. I need more exhibits before handing over to the Maktab.

         Secondly in order to be able to exhibit all these historical documents, I think we need some money for the initial expenditure, such as to have proper display boards, glass show-cases etc. in order that these exhibits will not be tempered with..

         Any suggestion and help in order to make this project a success will be most welcomed.

         Bye the way for those in the 3rd Batch (1953-1955,) Tuan Haji Kamaruddin b Ibrahim has managed to reprint 3rd batch group photographs at the cost of RM200.00 for the first copy and for every extra copy the cost is only RM100.00. Tuan Hj Kamaruddin has asked me to inform 3rd Batch Kirkbyites about this and those who are interested to purchase a copy please contact him at No.4 SS 1/23B, Kg Tunku, 47300 Petaling Jaya or phone 03-78764016.

 

 

 

 

 

I just received a report from Angeline Ong Siok Hong (1958-59) about the function which was held in conjunction with Tuan Hj Baharuddin Marji being conferred the title Dato’ by His Highness the Sultan of Selangor.

 

Dear Zainal,

 

I hope this will reach you in time for the next Kirkby Newsletter. You would have read in the papers that our Cikgu Baharuddin Marji was conferred the title of Dato' by the Sultan of Selangor recently. The Kirkbyites in the Klang Valley rallied round and feted him to a buffet lunch at the Cititel Hotel, KL, on 21st January 2007. Seventy-one Kirkbyites responded - not only those living in and around KL but also beyond. Chow Khuan Yoke came from Kajang, Leela Unnithan and Lim Swee Ee from Klang while the commuter train brought Tan Kam Moon, Arumalar, Joseph John and Lim Yoke Kim from Seremban. Farther south, Ahmad Omar came from Muar while Lye Yuen Chew travelled all the way from Singapore! As for me, I was already in KL, and I extended my stay to join in the celebration.

            At about noon, all of us gathered at the entrance to welcome Dato' and Datin Baharuddin as they made their way in. There were warm handshakes and broad smiles all around as our guests-of-honour were led to the "Kirkby Corner" that Cititel had reserved for us. The other patrons at the Hotel's buffet lunch were amazed at the large number of senior citizens present. However, we, though in our twilight years behaved more like schoolchildren chatting animatedly and laughing excitedly when we met friends whom we have lost touch for ages! It gave us a lift to meet again and speak fondly of the good old days in Kampong Kirkby. As we tucked into the sumptuous food, we talked about the present too - comparing notes of our families, especially our grandchildren, our aches and pains and doctor's medication. Fifty years ago, such topics were outside our realm, but now, they are part and parcel of our lives. 

            Then our attention was diverted to Cikgu as he made a "Thank You" speech. It was short, sharp and sweet. He thanked us for our generosity and affection and appreciated the warmth of our gesture in honouring him and his wife. He declared that even though he is a Dato' he still prefers to be addressed as "Cikgu" because the latter honorific connotes respect which must be earned. Then he invited us to his home on 28th January 2007 for tea, insisting that we do not bring any gift or ang pow. After that, we sang "For he's a jolly good fellow" robustly.

            We burst into song again when it was announced that it was Zainuddin Zaini and Ahmad Omar's birthdays. Many happy returns to both of them!!  While Ahmad revealed that he's a septuagenarian, Zainuddin did not utter a word. But we know that if he's not yet seventy, he has to be a "sexygenarian"! No Kirkbyite is any younger than sixty!! 

            Inevitably, a photo session followed. Since there were too many of us to fit into one photo, the different batches took photos with Dato' and Datin. Then Teresa Voon presented Cikgu with a big congratulatory card which Wong Siew Hoon had designed using her beautiful calligraphy. All of us had signed it - a fitting souvenir to remind Cikgu of his special award. We continued mingling and exchanging news but as the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." So we parted company with the promise to meet again - at Cikgu's home the following week and the Reunion in Melaka in 2008.

            In a nutshell, the get-together was a tremendous success. The Kirkby spirit was evident and the big turnout speaks for itself. Cikgu Baharuddin was and still is very much loved and respected. We wish him and his dear wife many years of Good Health and hope we can share more makan and spend more time together.

            Credit goes to Teresa and Martin Voon for taking on the responsibility of contacting everyone via sms, phone, etc. They roped in a few people to help them behind the scenes; collection of the subscription lunch was done by Chong Hong Chong for the 1957 -1959 groups, Martin for the 1959 -1960 group, and Lim Yoke Kim for the 1960 -1961 group. Lye Yuen Chew took the opportunity to sell some song books of "Golden Oldies" which he and Teresa had compiled. The proceeds go to the Contingency Fund for the 2008 Reunion. Thanks to all these worker bees!  A vote of thanks also goes to the management of Cititel for being very accommodating and co-operative in helping us to organise the event smoothly.

 

Well Zainal, this has been a long letter but I think it is of interest to everyone.

 

Wishing you all the best and thank you for keeping the Newsletter going. May you have a good and healthy 2007 and the years ahead!

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Angeline Ong Siok Hong

(1958 -1959)