Profile : MISS Sylvia Lawrence, a pioneer in the social and educational field and an ardent worker in the area of community relations was recently presented with the "Papal Award" at a function held at the St. Anthony's Parish in Durban. The presentation of the "Papal Award" was done by Archbishop Dennis Hurley.

 Miss Sylvia Lawrence

Recipient of the Papal Award (1983)


Miss Sylvia Lawrence, born in Durban, is the second daughter of the late Mr and Mrs V. Lawrence, the well known pioneers.

She received her early education at St. Philomena's School and thereafter attended the Special Teacher training classes organized by the Natal Education Department. She obtained a T3B teaching certificate which was then the highest teaching qualification. She served in the teaching field in several capacities and returned as Principal of H. S Done Girls' School in 1964. She was later appointed as a lecturer in Music at Springfield Teacher Training College and was solely responsible for training first, second and third year students in school music, Theory Percussion Band and Recorder and Blackboard work. She was the first to introduce music to Indian schools in 1930. Later she was in charge of music at various schools until retirement. She holds diplomas in music - Associate of Trinity College for the Violin, the Licentiate of London College of Music for pianoforte. She was also the winner of Gold and Silver medals at the Indian Eisteddfod.

Added to her academic background is an unrelenting dedication and sincerity in her service to humanity. She is the executive member of the National Council of Woman, Durban Branch and its corresponding member for International Relations and Peace for the past eight years. She was a delegate to its annual conference particularly on Indian Education and cultural matters. She is a foundation member of Red Cross Nursing Division and a pioneer of the Indian Detachment (1933) and she has been it's Commandant since 1942. She holds gold medals for first aid and for home nursing and she was awarded the King's Medal for long service - now with six Clasps, each representing an additional 5 years service and thus is the longest serving non-white member. She attested for full time service during World War II and was Unit Commander in Durban Civilian Protective Services and was awarded the South African War Medal.


She served as chairperson of the Music Committee to organise the annual music festival for Indian schools. She was secretary of the Ladies Auxiliary. She was the organiser and chairperson of Natal Philharmonic Society which staged plays "Chu Chin Chow" and Mikado.


She is the foundation member of the Durban Indian Womens' Association, a Welfare Organisation registered under the Fundraising Act. which ' is now working on a

Fiat Lux Dec/Jan 1983/84, p.2


Miss Sylvia Lawrence in the company of friends, Archbishop Dennis Hurley (right) and Mr Pat Samuels (far right)

project to build a home for pensioned Indian women. She was instrumental in establishing the first training centre for mentally handicapped Indian children in Durban. She introduced school meals commencing with 10 poor children and preparing meals during lunch hour and subsequently, after a Nutrition Conference, this was taken over by the Provincial Administration for provision of meals in all Indian Schools.


She is on the Management Committee of the Fellowship of Retired Teachers for the second year in succession and served on the Committee of the Reservoir Hills Women's Cultural Group.

She is an organist at St. Anthony's Catholic Church. She is the life member of "Friends of Llangollen Wales" since 1980. She achieved distinction at the International Eisteddfod for Music.


She was awarded the "Aspro Award of Merit" in 1959 at a public function. In 1960 she was elected a Life Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.A.) in London for long and distinguished Community Service and is the only Indian in the Republic, possibly the only non-white in the world to hold this prestigious honour. Miss Lawrence recently received the Nataraja Award from the Indian Academy of South Africa for outstanding services in Education, Music, Red Cross and Community Affairs.

Fiat Lux Dec/Jan 1983/84, p.3.