Monday, June 27, 2011

Clare Caspersz moves on

The doyen of Sri Lanka's Finishing School for ladies, Ms Clare Claspersz (daughter of Bobby Arnolda), passes away in Colombo at the ripe old age of 92. May she rest in Peace

Clare, a mixture of pride and satisfaction 

CLARE Caspersz is a versatile teacher. At 86, Clare is young at heart; she is active and radiant. And she still teaches her many students in her hotel school. The reason for her ever green attitude is simply her love for teaching and helping youngsters to come up in their professions with poise and confidence.

Clare is the proprietress/directress of the Claremont Finishing School and the Claremont Hotel School in Kotahena. Throughout Sri Lanka, she is known for her ability for training students in hotel management, cookery and social graces.

On October 2, Clare will celebrate three major milestones in her life - her 86th birthday, the 50th anniversary of the Claremont

Finishing School and the 35th anniversary of the Claremont Hotel School.

Clare, who hails from a rich Burgher family, was inspired by her father and his business in the travel and tourism. Her father, Boby Arnolda, ran a very successful business and mingled with many top persons of the business community.

"Those days, after school I went to my father's office and watched how he dealt with various business partners. I think that inspired me to start my own business,"

Clare says recalling her childhood. Clare had a knack for beauty culture, dress making and cookery and social grace. She thought of sharing her skills and talent with many other persons by conducting classes.

That's how she got into the trade and began the Claremont Finishing School. "And I had the right attitude.

When you have the right attitude, you can do anything. I had many people coming for the classes. But I needed to get myself qualified in these fields," she said.

She went to London for further studies and studied in well-known cookery, dress making and beauty culture schools.

"When I came back, I was featured in a Lake House newspaper. With that a lot of people came to know about me and started coming for my classes," she said.

Her school has been visited by many celebrities, diplomats and prominent personalities. Among them were the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the late President J.R. Jayewardene.

"Once, we had an exhibition and J.R. Jayewardene came as the chief guest. Following that, he encouraged me to start a hotel school where lots of other young people - both men and women - could benefit."

JRJ also gave her three scholarships to study hotel management in Germany, France and Switzerland. "When I came back I started the hotel school under the guidance of JRJ in 1970."

But she had very humble beginnings. Her success over 50-years is due to her total dedication and commitment to her work. Being a well disciplined person, Clare made her students also disciplined.

This is one reason why her many students have been successful in their professions here or abroad. Clare has immense pride about her students who hold various positions in the hotel trade all over the world.

And several of her students are the proud owners of successful catering businesses in the country. "I am happy to see all my students carry out their work with integrity and respect for their employers," she says.

She put a lot of hard work to build the institution to be a fully-fledged hotel school. In fact her hotel school came long before the Ceylon Hotels School came into existence. "I built this school by piece by piece" she says with a mixture of pride and satisfaction.
Each year, she trains hundreds of students in the hotel school.

Today, Clare is delighted to see many hundreds, if not thousands, of her students placed in top posts.

"I have taught fathers and sons mothers and daughters. I have also given a lot of free training courses to needy students," she says with much pride.

Besides her profession, Clare has travelled all over the world appreciating the beauty and serenity and history of various countries.

Clare's late husband, who was an Army Officer, gave her much encouragement. But he never interfered with her work. She says that he used to say 'Clare is married to her hotel school'. And she used to say, 'He is married to the Army'. However, the Caspersz family had five sons, four of them now live abroad.

Although she is about to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of her Finishing School and the 35th Anniversary of the Hotel School, the sad thing is that this will be the last year of her teaching career. She has decided to retire at the end of the year.

The next generation of youngsters would not be fortunate enough to be trained and get qualified in Claremont under the guidance of bubbly Clare.

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