Alkionides UK - AGM President’s Report 2018-19
I feel honoured to be here today surrounded by a team of amazing volunteers. Volunteers who selflessly give their time and effort in order to support Alkionides UK. Volunteers who care and provide for patients who are suffering from complex medical conditions and find themselves in hospital in a foreign country. A big thank you to each one of you.
I am so proud of our enormous achievements. Our Alkionides UK ‘nest’ has provided shelter to hundreds of families since 2010. Our caring ‘angels’ in London, Maro Athanasiou, Galatia Rossides, Maroulla Ioannidou and Anna-Maria White, have made the patients their priority. They attend to their needs, often on a daily basis, as if they were family. I am honoured to know such special people. If anyone deserves an OBE it is them! Mr Akis Ioannides and the Heart Foundation Eleousa joined us and promoted our cause to the whole Cypriot community in London. Linda Kyriacou does a great job with the membership and secretarial duties and her daughter Monica maintains our database; Clarissa Germanos is our experienced editor and Stella Dinenis and Angelos Athanassiades are always there for major decision making and events management.
Our dynamic vice-president, Tatiana der Avedissian, has despite her demanding career shown enormous dedication and taken on extensive responsibility. Together with Eugenie Papadopoulos and our young Alkionides UK team they organise regular fund-raising events. We can be sure that the future of Alkionides UK is in good hands! We are very proud! Everyone takes responsibility and we are very grateful to all trustees and committee members.
I also want to pay tribute to our team of Alkionides Birmingham & Midlands and the whole Cypriot community there. They not only support amyloidosis sufferers attending Queen Elizabeth Hospital but they have embraced the opportunity to help twenty-two children with special needs. Helen Vasiliou and Liliana Malla joined our team with no hesitation and both work continuously raising funds and achieving our goals.
Mr Anthony Coombs visited our London ‘nest’ last spring, accompanied by Mr Demetrios Markou who introduced him to the charity and Mr K. Akathiotis; within days of the visit the Birmingham ladies identified twenty-two Cypriot families who have children with special needs. It was the wish of Mr Coombs to help children in Birmingham; the Keith Coombs Trust was able to provide £5,000 funding. After assessing the children’s needs the team immediately purchased a very special pushchair and started working on a programme of wonderful trips for these house-bound families. First to a Winter Wonderland and later to Disney on Ice where the children enjoyed a spectacular show. Furthermore, the parents were given the opportunity to meet each other and make friends who understand their everyday challenges. We look forward to more trips.
Last August, a Cypriot mother of two very young children found herself in the streets in Leicester after being threatened by her abusive husband. She contacted us and the next day Helen Vasiliou went to her rescue. The community secured temporary accommodation with the help of Leicester Greek School and later helped her rent a place so that she could start her life again. Fotoulla Lytra, another special lady, accompanied her to court and now she has custody of her children.
Please allow me to especially thank my husband Alan, who despite personal ill health was determined to keep the Alkionides UK business in order. For over 20 years he has been the pillar of the charity and his expertise in invaluable.
Our sponsors, especially two young professionals who prefer to remain anonymous and their company Capital Group, have helped our charity move forward and we can now begin to think about buying a property in the near future. The A.G. Leventis Foundation has believed in us from day one and recently we welcomed the support of the Christos Lazari and Reo Stakis Foundations. Individuals help with monthly donations and our membership has grown.
As our funds grew in recent years, we were able to start a scholarship programme. Marios Pavlou graduated this year from Newark College in Lincoln and has been hired by a renowned company in Hamburg. He made us proud with his excellence in violin making and won all the prizes. Konstantinos Papachristoforou has completed his first year studying mathematics at Durham University. He also came through with flying colours and has secured an internship for next summer with KPMG.
After our 20th Anniversary celebrations with the First Lady of Cyprus our events included a very successful ‘Rebetiki Vradia’ in Birmingham, as well as Blu-Bird musical events and meze nights organised by our youngsters in London and promoted by Tatiana on Hellenic TV. Our May cultural event in the hospitable home of Dr Rebecca Hadjiosif was attended by our Consul Mr Theodoros Gotsis. The award-winning book by Kyriaki Papaleontiou Demetriou was presented by our Cultural Councillor Dr Marios Psaras. Our scholar Marios Pavlou came with his violin and his guitarist friend and singer Ben to entertain us. Our team prepared a wonderful tea!
We have some extraordinary athletes who are inspired by the Olympic spirit and have our charity in their hearts! The Athens Marathon was run by Tatiana and Constantinos Markides in November 2018; Athina Panjari climbed the Kilimanjaro Trek; and my son David Nicholsby recently completed a triathlon at Blenheim Palace and is continuing with a bigger challenge in Shrewsbury next September. Thanks to their amazing efforts they raised a total sum of over £12,000 for Alkionides UK.
On the 6th of July the weather was great for our 10K walk in Hyde Park. The Hambi family sponsored and hosted the event providing a wonderful lunch at the Pimlico Brasserie at the Windermere Hotel in Victoria. Sylvia Hambi guided us through the park and pointed out places of interest. Our Birmingham ladies Helen and Liliana joined us raising funds from the community. Sponsors Mr Demetrios Markou and Mr Anthony Coombs presented medals to the walkers. A very successful event that raised over £6000.
DISY President Averof Neofytou and his wife visited our patients at the ‘nest’, shared their concerns and made a valuable contribution, while the English School Class of 97 also raised funds for the charity at their reunion. We are proud that this year we have doubled the income of the charity, still keeping costs to an absolute minimum.
Let us now focus on why we must carry on the work of Alkionides UK! Just in recent weeks we have been there for 33-year-old George who, while patiently waiting for a transplant, had a few emergency admissions to King’s College Hospital; Galatia was by his side. Olga had major back surgery at the London Clinic; Anna-Maria stayed with her overnight and Maro and Galatia and myself visited during the day. Elena was admitted to the Royal Marsden Hospital for a very lengthy operation following chemotherapy and was visited by Anna-Maria and Maro. One of our earliest patients Stellitsa, who is now a teenager, has returned for more facial surgery.
In addition to patients accommodated at the ‘nest’, our scholar Marilena, returned for further facial surgery. Monica woke up after her liver transplant with Maro at her side. Nineteen-year-old motorbike accident victim Charalambos is still at the Wellington Hospital gradually responding to treatment after being in a coma for a year. Young Maria-Christina has completed her cell transplant treatment and is staying in a flat with her parents. Maria, an amyloidosis transplant patient, returned to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Alkionides UK brought some Halcyon days by providing financial and moral support for these families.
We must keep raising funds to help these less fortunate people whom we have come to think of as family. It does not bear thinking where the patients would be without Alkionides UK! So please continue giving to enable us to welcome more patients to our bigger ‘nest’ at Finsbury Park, knowing that it is absolutely worth it!