It is with great sadness that we note of the passing away of Mr. Neil Fernando, President of the Vintage Car Owners Club of Ceylon after a brief illness in the UK.
The Vintage Car Owners Club of Ceylon is saddened to note of his demise as he was a ‘livewire’ of this unique club that succeeded the Veteran Car Club of Ceylon that was formed way back in 1953 and is considered the oldest motoring heritage club of the East.
Neil’s affection to Vintage motoring was paramount as he kept the flag flying at all times having come forward to ensure the well-being of the club very specially during times of crisis and his amiable personality ensured to maintain the camaraderie of the members of the club.
Under Neil’s leadership, the club went through a transformation of holding annual events in addition to taking up greater challenges with the ‘Oldest of the Old’ taking on long and gruelling distances with drives to Anuradhapura, and the longest being the drive to Jaffna that he personally took to the wheel driving his trusty Austin 7.
The annual drive to Galle was his ‘pet event’ as the convoy of vintages chugged along the Galle Road to the Coral Sands Hikkaduwa for a lunch break and proceeded in fancy dress form to the historic Galle Fort where vintage blended with heritage that was an much sought after event that took place every year under his personal care.
All meetings of the club were held at his office and the club was welcomed to use the facilities of his offices in organising of events and to keep the day-to-day administration of the club up and running.
He was also very keen in keeping the vintages on the road and encouraged the members to drive their cars on weekends and supported the move by hosting the group for a morning breakfast after a run at the Colombo City Hotel.
In addition, he was a keen supporter of the annual Drive for Elders that was held on World Elders Day and he would hand over a cash token to each and every elder from his own funds who joined the event which was organised by the club and hosted at a star class hotel.
With vintage cars being close to his heart, he was of the view that vintage motoring in Sri Lanka should be given ‘Heritage’ status as it represented motor cars imported over 100 years ago and was of great value to the beginnings of motorised transport in the East and encouraged the club to work towards seeking the status which would be a precursor to protecting the much-admired vintage car movement in Sri Lanka.
The club will miss his leadership and strength extended towards the vintage car movement in Sri Lanka and wish to extend our condolences to his family members.
May he attain supreme bliss.
Vintage Car Owners Club of Ceylon