On 15 July 2002, the late Mr Ambrose Wong Ik Loi 黃聿蕊 paid his last visit to St. Anthony's School. He was amazed with the fast physical development of the school. Though he left St. Anthony's School many years ago, his heart was full of fond memories of the school.
How did it all begin for St. Anthony's School?
In 1931, he was requested by Bishop John Baus from Sibu to start a school in Sarikei. Upon arriving in Sarikei, he opened a class using a corner of the wooden St Anthony's Church at 1/2 km Repok Road. There were 8 students in 1932 and 24 students in 1933 and he was the only teacher cum principal and did just about everything by himself.
He still had a good memory. He recalled that his first batch of 24 students consisted of 9 Malays, 14 Chinese and 1 Indian. He was paid $24 a month while the fee per student was 50 cents.
After two years in Sarikei, the church raised enough fund to build a four-classroom building at the present site of the school when the number of the students increased. The late Bishop John Baus named the school after St. Anthony Padua. Mr Ambrose become the first headmaster of St. Anthony's School from 1932 to 1935. The number of students increased from 24 to 45. Among his earlier students were the late Tun Abang Haji Openg (former Sarawak Governor) and the late Datuk Haji Bolhassan. (Does anyone have info on this personality?)
Mr Ambrose left his job as headmaster in 1935 and become a hospital assistant. His first posting was in Matu in Sarawak. After World War II, he served at Sarikei Clinic from 1947 to 1950. Later he was transferred to Kuching as the chief hospital assistant. In 1954, he left for Brunei to work for Shell. He later opened Borneo Hotel in Kuching.
He passed away in August 2002 soon after his July trip to Sarikei. His contribution to the school will always be remembered.
Anthonian magazine 1979
Anthonian magazine 2002
St. Anthony's school website - History article