Sri Lanka terror causes major heartbreak for one of our own

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The attacks in Sri Lanka have taken away many lives and left many injured. At the time of reporting, the death toll stood at about 253. While suspects have been picked up and even if they were found guilty, none of that would bring back the loved ones people have lost. There is really no place for such terror in our society today.

This tragedy has hit home as one of our own in our squash community has lost his family. Ben Nicholson, who plays with the Singapore Cricket Club, was on holiday with his family in Colombo, Sri Lanka over the Easter weekend

While Ben survived the attacks, his wife, Anita, and his two children, Alex and Annabel, were killed at the Shangri-la Hotel. The SSRA mourns their deaths and on behalf of the squash community in Singapore, offers Ben our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies

While not many would know Ben personally, when such a thing happens to our own little close-knit community, we share the pain. As a gesture of respect and solidarity with Ben, a minute of silence was observed at the beginning of every National Squash League match last week.

Dr. Woffles Wu, the SSRA President who also plays at the Singapore Cricket Club as Ben does, said:

“This has been a horrific and senseless tragedy. It has rocked us to the core. Our hearts, thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Ben for the immeasurable loss of his loved ones.”

Amongst those who knows Ben and the family better within our community is James Spalding, who plays at the Hollandse Club and Angry Birds in the league:

“I met Ben at the Hollandse Club, and he was gracious enough to play down to my level on Saturday mornings, whilst the children were learning to play tennis. Most weeks, Anita would join us for a coffee, chit chat and a giggle.

The entire family was full of laughter and a zest for life – Annabel quietly trying to listen to the ‘adult’ stories and Alex arranging his next sporting engagement, whether it be rugby or tennis. They were a beautiful family unit.”

Joannah Yue, our very own national champion of many years, who got to know Ben when he first came to Singapore and started to pick up the squash racket again at the Singapore Cricket Club, described him as a “true gentleman” and offered her heartfelt condolences:

“I know no amount of condolences will ever be able to soothe the great pain in your heart. Just want you to know that we are grieving with you too. Please take care and stay strong.”

But perhaps the one who knew Ben the longest is Chew Kok Wye. The pair were mates in university and years later, reunited here in Singapore.

“I first knew Ben when we were squash team mates at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK back in 1992. Ben was an exemplary member of the squash team and a true gentleman, both on and off  court. Our paths crossed again almost 20 years later, literally in the squash courts, at the Singapore Cricket Club when Ben relocated to Singapore for work in 2010.”

“No words can express the pain and sadness that Ben is going through. Despite his great loss, his strength and character still shines brightly, in the tribute he had given to his ‘perfect’ family and his expression of thanks to the medical teams in Colombo and the Sri Lankan people. Our thoughts and good wishes go to Ben and his extended family during this difficult time.”

Apart from Ben, the squash community also lost Nisanga Mayadunne. The Sri Lankan was a national squash player, and more recently, acted as the team manager for the national junior team. She was also killed at the Shangri-la hotel in Colombo together with her mother, Shanta Mayadunne, who is a celebrity chef in their native country.