Martha Chryssomalli, journalist, royal correspondent and vital bridge in Anglo-Hellenic relationship – obituary
Born 11th February 1953, died 4th January 2021
Martha Chrysomalli, journalist, royal correspondent and a vital bridge in the Anglo-Hellenic relationship, died in London on the 4th of January. Loved and admired by many for her never-ending energy, fire and spirit, she leaves behind an important legacy in the promotion of Philhellenism in the United Kingdom.
Greece and Great Britain have long been entwined in a romance of art and antiquity, prose and poetry. However, too many aspects of our common heritage are passed down to but a select few. That’s why the actions of determined, single minded individuals are so important in bringing Philhellenism back to life, retasking our heritage for the challenges of the modern world and rekindling its spark.
Martha was such an individual. Alight with an almost single-minded patriotism, her passion was felt by all those around her. She was not a passive observer of the Anglo-Greek relationship, and instinctively understood the importance of uncovering Hellenism as a valuable service to humanity.
Imbued with an innate disposition to uniting people and ideas and with a bright, optimistic and engaging character, she moved to London from Kalamata as a teenager to perfect her English, and soon discovered her natural place as a journalist.
From London, she contributed articles on cultural themes to Greek and UK magazines, worked as a royal correspondent for Hello magazine and quickly spotted the need for a forum in which to engage, build connectivity and develop ideas between her two homelands. As part of the Greek Press Association, she founded and edited the Hellenic Times, published in London with support from the Greek Embassy and the Greek shipping community.
In the Hellenic Times, Martha featured interviews with the most prominent Anglo-Hellenic figures of the day, personifying Philhellenism in conversation with notable British and Greek academics, celebrities, leading commercial figures, and royalty, including Prince Charles.
The Greek Press Association, of which Martha served as President, hosted a series of impressive, well publicised receptions and dinners in London. The events attracted a regular audience of famous British historians such as Bettany Hughes and Professor Michael Scott, and authors such as Victoria Hislop and Geoffrey Robertson. All proceeds went to Greek charities such as Hellenic Hope, which raised funds for the most vulnerable impacted by the devastating effects of the financial crisis. One such charity, The Messinian Society, so moved by her long-standing support, will dedicate a respite centre for autistic people in her memory.
In addition to organising such remarkable events, Martha always found new ways to promote and support Greek culture abroad, for instance in seeding Warwick University with Delphic olive trees. As a great supporter of her cousin, the famous musician Yanni, Martha was also a significant advocate for Greek culture abroad and for the diasporic community. She worked closely with John Kyriakides, the founder of the first and only Greek-language radio station, London Greek Radio, to found The Greek Association.
Never one to seek any recognition for her efforts, Martha was nonetheless clear-sighted in her support for the International Proposal for the Repatriation of the Olympics permanently to Greece, and the return of the Parthenon marbles. In her championing for the latter cause, she worked diligently with other famous, Greek born figures in the United Kingdom to keep the movement alive, including the economist Vicky Pryce, and distinguished QC Geoffrey Robertson.
She built a vibrant network of like-minded Greeks, through which she met her husband, a Police Chief, John Prantalos, who passed away on the 28th August 2018. Filled with fond memories, many speak of their love for a woman of heart and soul, generosity and wit; of a true patriot, and also a true friend.
Frustrated by the pause enforced by the pandemic, but still blossoming with ideas for new ventures, Martha fell ill and passed away in Hammersmith Hospital in London earlier this year. Having secured an important legacy, Martha leaves behind the inspiration for a new wave of Anglo Greeks to follow in her wake, to find ways to come together in supporting and appreciating not only Greece in antiquity, but also in its modern present.
Respected by all for a limitless drive and enthusiasm, Martha’s important legacy has been secured not only through the memories of her achievements, but also through the lasting communities she created and fostered.
|Hope to see you all at Martha’s funeral at 3pm on February 4. At St Nicholas church in Shepherd’s Bush.|
N.B. With thanks to Natasha Svetzouri, Vicky Pryce, Nick Hadjinikos who did the original draft but also Athina, Sophia, and also John Kyriakidis for working so hard to get this right.