submitted by George Poulos on 02.02.2011
in writing the book, George, his passion
George, his passion
Purchase the book here
In June 2006, I contacted long term contributor to www.kythera-family.net, Peter Tsicalas, to ask him whether he would write an essay on the Kytherian presence in northern New South Wales (NSW), for a book I was proposing to edit. Peter lives in Montecollum, near Mullumbimby and Byron Bay. He politely declined my offer, but suggested that if I wanted to do something really useful, why not contact a woman called Ruby Brown, (nee, Feros), who was working on the biography of her father, George. Peter gave me Ruby’s email address.
George Feros, Peter Tsicalas advised, was a Greek & Kytherian Australian who had obtained the funding to establish superior aged care facilities in north eastern NSW. Having been interested in Kytherian history for more than 30 years, and the incumbent editor of www.kythera-family.net, a hub of Kytherian information, for 5 years, I was surprised that I had not heard of George Feros. Who was George Feros?
I made contact with Ruby, and she elaborated on her fathers achievements. Soon after, we met in Goulburn, NSW, which lies …….kilometres from the Brown-Feros family property, and she provided me with a copy of the very thick manuscript she had been working on.
Meanwhile, the Organising Committee of Kytheraismos Institute was preparing for the Second International Symposium of Kytheraismos, to be held at the Hellenic Club in Canberra from the 15-17th September, 2006. I asked Ruby to consider presenting a paper at the Conference, and she took up the offer. She was scheduled to speak after the two “stars” of the Conference, Vikki Fraioli, and Terry Keramaris from California, USA, and I was very concerned that she would be unnerved or upstaged by their presentation. I needn’t have worried.
Ruby’s speech, delivered with great verve and confidence, concentrated on a number of key themes. The first of these was pride. “I am truly proud of my Kytherian heritage,” she began, “ and I would like to share with you the endeavours of my father”. “I am very proud of Feros Care, the organisation bearing the name of my father….George’s story is one great Australian story, or more precisely, a story about one man’s passion to do great things for…Australia”.
A second theme was the celebration of the unconventional, the eccentric, the radical. Before she spoke, a portrait of George Feros, had been placed to the side of the podium. The audience, of about 250 people, were overwhelmed and confronted by it. That portrait appears on the front cover of this book. You could almost “feel” the audience striving to understand what the portrait of that “wild man”, had to do with a conference on Kytherian identity. Kytherians were mild, conservative people.
“George had strong convictions by which he lived,” Ruby observed. “He did things his way. Convention was not part of George’s way of living. Every day in the last 20 years of George’s life, he would mount his bike and ride off”. What George did next, is recounted in the remainder of this book. I won’t preempt what you will discover there about George. Be assured however, it is unconventional.
A third minor, but significant theme, is typically Kytherian. Young children, wrenched from their mothers arms, removed from their homes, and sent off, halfway around the world. “From when he left in 1923, George never returned to Kythera. He told me many times how much he missed his dear mother, and how he cried many times, because he was unable to see her again”. Jim Miller, father of George Miller, my own father, Con, and three of his brothers Dimitri, Minas & Peter, were amongst thousands of other Greeks & Kytherians of that generation, destined never to see their mother’s again.
The fourth theme that Ruby stressed was the need to preserve the Greek and Kytherian heritage. “If this story is not preserved”, Ruby asserted, “then a grave injustice will have occurred, and the history of Australia will be all the poorer”. Thankfully this story is now written……. I trust those who read it will be fired up to continue the passion of people like George Feros to do great things…”. “Kytherians”, she concluded, “I charge you to keep the dream alive – let us always be proud of our heritage”.
It became clear to me immediately that Ruby’s aspirations and those of the Kytherian World Heritage Fund (KWHF) are congruent. The “mission” of the KWHF is to understand, explain, preserve, maintain and enhance, Kytherian history, culture, artefacts, ethos & heritage. Under its aegis fall, www.kythera-family.net, Kytherian Photography & Realia, and Kytherian Publishing & Media. It is through the latter arm that the printing and publication of this superb book has been undertaken.
The KWHF is a concept devised by Angelo Notaras and George C Poulos in 2003. It arose out of their perception that a "Kytherian Renaissance" had gathered momentum throughout the latter part of the 20th century. It was evident to them that a plethora of projects had emerged designed to preserve the Kytherian heritage.
The renaissance was driven by numerous associations, institutions, and individuals on a number of fronts, and a number of continents. Some groups, such as the Society of Kytherian Studies, based in Athens, under the stewardship of Professor Nikos Petrochilos, had become well established and well organised. They had been working inexorably and diligently on the preservation of the Kytherian heritage for many years. The Society has published 17 books with an intrinsic Kytherian theme. Other organisations which played a significant role, included the Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust, Sydney, the Institute of Kytheraismos, Athens, the Kythera Cultural Association, Potamos, Kythera, and George N Leontsinis, Professor of History at Athens University. Numerous archaeologists and archaeological institutions, have also served to raise the profile of Kythera around the world.
To read more about the unified spirit of kytheraismos impelling the KWHF, see www.kythera-family.net/GeorgeCPoulosPhilosophies.
The organisations mentioned above are well established. It is inevitable that their endeavours will help preserve and enhance the Kytherian and Hellenic heritage. It is often the contribution of passionate, diligent, assertive and dogged individuals, like Ruby Brown, however, who give me the most pleasure. They work in isolation, are under-resourced, and commit themselves to significant expenses. Ruby Feros must be commended for the love and devotion that she has invested in this book.
To reiterate the conclusions that Ruby arrived at in her speech to the Kytheraismos Conference in September 2006. The history of Australia has been enriched by telling George Feros’s story. It will inspire others to “follow their passions”, and to strive to achieve great things”. And Kytherians, will be encouraged to “keep the dream alive, and always remain, proud of their heritage”.
May his memory be eternal
Ayion to mimni sou.
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