The Oinoussai Benevolent Fund, (Tameion Efpragias Oinousson/TEO), was set up by Oinoussians living in London in 1942 to help those compatriots on the island who were suffering from war time difficulties. Today, the Fund provides vital assistance and support to those in need as well as supporting various projects which preserve Oinoussai’s identity and contemporize its heritage and culture. In the recent years of economic difficulties the Fund has dealt with issues of poverty, neglect and vulnerability for the inhabitants who have suffered from these predicaments. This year, the Fund celebrates 75 years of existence.
On Saturday 18th November 2017, as the early evening chill descended on the river Thames, 500 guests from England, Greece and Europe made their way towards the historic Tower of London whose battlements were adorned with the OBF logo and entered the Pavilion, a giant marquee located on the former moat of the Tower. The bohemian décor and ambiance complimented the views of the Tower as the guests sipped their welcome drinks and greeted old and new friends with excited anticipation of the ballroom whose doors were promptly opened at 7.15 pm.
Having been called by the toastmaster to proceed to the main room for dinner, the guests walked into the ballroom. It was spectacular. Fifty tables adorned with candelabras and special gifts enticed the guests to their seats while above them a blanket of sparkling stars enveloped the ceiling.
Several dignitaries graced the event with their presence: HE Ambassador of Greece, Archbishop Gregorios of Great Britain & Thyateira, The Bishop of Chios, Oinousses & Psara Markos, Secretary General Emeritus of IMO Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos, The MP for Chios Νοtis Mitarakis, The Maritime Attache in London and former head of the Oinoussai Naval Academy Captain George Skandalis, The President of the ‘Friends of Oinoussai’, The Mayor of Oinousses, to name but a few.
The President of the Fund, Mr John M. Hadjipateras, spoke warmly and movingly in English as he welcomed everyone to this milestone event relating a story of how there is a link between the Tower of London and Oinousses! He thanked everyone for their continued support and friendship and encouraged the younger generation to get involved in propelling the Fund forward in future years.
This speech was followed by a few well -chosen and beautifully spoken words from HE Ambassador of Greece, Mr Caramitsos-Tsiras who praised OBF for their longevity and continued worthwhile efforts. This was followed by the presentation of a Golden Raffle ticket prize which was drawn by Mrs Caramitsos-Tsiras.
Grace was given by Archbishop Gregorios of Great Britain and Thyateira.
After the sumptuous dinner of salmon, braised beef and toffee pudding had been appreciatively consumed, Mr George T. Lemos, OBF Vice-President, introduced the premiere screening of a short documentary film that had been commissioned especially for this event. “Oinousses”, a film in Greek with English subtitles, captivated the audience as they witnessed a brief but intimate look at life on the island as related by the inhabitants themselves. The film was roundly applauded during the end credits. The guests were then offered for their delectation, ‘The Oinoussian Delicacy’, a rose petal spoon sweet as seen in the film.
The raffles were now ready to be drawn. Nineteen impressive prizes were on offer and Mr George T. Lemos conducted the draw with his usual flair and efficiency. This was followed by the now traditional serving of ‘masticha liqueur shots’ and an invitation to proceed to the dance floor to enjoy the music of our long-time resident DJ Avgoustinos Galiassos who mixed the latest songs and traditional Greek music much to the delight of all who were dancing. There was also a photo booth that proved to be very popular by young and old alike.
The evening began to draw to its inevitable conclusion at midnight. The guests were standing around their tables, surveying the room, almost reluctant to leave. When they made their way out, they were carrying the souvenir programmes and their going away gifts of OBF logo embossed candles and power banks. The night had ended and five hundred guests strolled along the path of the Tower of London gazing back at this iconic venue with quiet satisfaction and a night to remember.