The annual thanksgiving memorial service for the founder of the Penang Free School, the late Reverend Robert Sparke Hutchings, is steeped in history and tradition.
On the 21st of October each year (the anniversary of Penang Free School’s founding), prefects and school representatives both from Penang Free School and SMK Hutchings will gather at the tomb of Reverend Hutchings at the Northam Road Protestant Cemetery to commemorate his life and service to the school.
This year was no different and today at 7am, some 60 people comprising school prefects and teachers of Penang Free School & SMK Hutchings as well as alumni and members of the public, gathered for a memorial service.
The thanksgiving service was led by Reverend Ho Kong Eng of St. George’s Church, Penang (himself a Penang Free School alumni).
Hutchings – who died of malaria in Penang on 20th April, 1827 – was also an Anglican colonial chaplain of the Prince of Wales Island (Penang).
While in Penang, his inspiration led to the construction of St. George’s Church (the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia) which was completed in 1818.
His invaluable contribution towards education in Malaysia can be judged from the fact that the school he initiated over two centuries ago – Penang Free School – has matured into one of the country’s premier schools.
His legacy continues in the development of Penang and Malaysia through the countless students whose lives have been enriched by Penang Free School.
Notable alumnus include Malaysia’s first prime minister the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, former Penang chief minister the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, and one of the state’s famous sons in music and film, the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee.
Other notables today who stand proud to be called Old Frees include global consumer advocate Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, former College General rector Reverend Gerard Steve Theraviam and George Town Festival director Joe Sidek.