An appreciation of Harry de Sayrah, OAM – By Ivor Novello

An appreciation of Harry de Sayrah, OAM – By Ivor Novello

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We would like today to pay tribute to a dear friend who has left us far too soon. It is with heavy hearts that we remember Harry de Sayrah, who touched our lives in ways that words can hardly describe. While we mourn the loss of a beloved companion, husband, father and grand-father, we also celebrate the beautiful and lasting impact Harry had on each of us.

Harry was not just a friend; he was a beacon of light in our lives. He possessed a rare combination of qualities that endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him. He always kept in contact with his classmates, even after more than sixty years and continued to bring together those classmates who had lost touch with each other. One such example was myself, as I had lost contact with many classmates after emigration to Germany: Harry saw to it that I was taken into the Josephian forum and thus enabled me, much to my delight and gratitude, to exchange with my peers.

Harry had a unique ability to make every person he encountered feel special and valued. His warmth and sincerity were truly remarkable. One of the most cherished aspects of Harry’s personality was his sense of humour. He had an infectious laugh that could lift the spirits of anyone in the room. Harry had an uncanny ability to find joy in the simplest of things and shared that joy generously with those around him.

As we reflect on the life of Harry, let us also remember the passions that fuelled his existence. Whether it was his love for music, art and sports – a horse enthusiast of high esteem, Harry was the youngest race horse owner in Ceylon and won many prestigious trophies.

Among the numerous activities that Harry pursued, he was president of the Lions Club in Sri Lanka and in Australia. An entrepreneur, benefactor, philanthropist, he was honoured with the title of OAM, the highest order in Australia for his untiring efforts and magnanimous generosity, among other things, to help Sri Lankans, especially after the Tsunami in 2004. In this connection he singlehandedly undertook a Lion’s project to send over one million used glasses to Sri Lanka followed up by contributing to large clinics in Sri Lanka and finally opening a ward of eight beds in an Eye Hospital in Panadura, donated by his Lion’s Club on his initiative.

His dedication to his alma mater, St. Joseph’s College Colombo, Sri Lanka, knew no bounds –for instance Imelda, his wife once remarked: “Harry, you don’t own St. Josephs!” – or in any other pursuit, Harry approached life with an enthusiasm that was both inspiring and contagious. He continued to follow and update numerous projects he had started in college up to the time of his passing away.


Last but not least I would like to mention that Harry was an ardent Catholic who participated in the ministries actively – God bless his soul. Though Harry may no longer be with us in person, his spirit lives on in the memories we hold dear. His legacy of kindness, laughter and love will continue to influence our lives and the lives of generations to come.

In closing, let us honour Harry by carrying forward the lessons he taught us. Let us be kinder, more compassionate and always ready to share a smile. Let us live our lives with the same zest and enthusiasm that Harry displayed.

“The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one.” — Seneca

Ivor Novello, Germany

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