Story kept alive until reunion 59 years later
A chance meeting with a man who holidays in Bowen, Queensland each year has led to Warragul woman Helen Perikkentis finally meeting the man who saved her from a potential life as a slave 59 years ago.
With her family coming out to Australia from their native Cyprus, their journey included a stop in Chairo, Egypt where they waited to board a ship.
“I can still remember it vividly,” Helen said of her ordeal which occurred when she was just five-years-old.
“They were a couple, a man and his wife very neatly dressed.
“They had two lollies, but I remember crying and screaming I want my mummy.
“They kept taking me into a big shop that had bright satin curtains.”
Standing waiting to board the same ship, Miltiades Neothyton noticed Helen’s distraught mother and together with a man he had met in a hotel, set about searching for Helen.
“He knew in his heart that they couldn’t just leave without me,” Helen said.
“They found me in the basement on a table, ready to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
“A man from the restaurant who helped in the search implored the boy to run in and grab me.”
Helen and Miltiades went their separate ways after boarding the ship, with Helen’s family coming to Gippsland while Miltiades headed to North Queensland, eventually opening a motel in Bowen.
“I would have been sold as a slave,” Helen said.
“Mum wouldn’t have come out if they hadn’t of found me.
“Dad would have come to Australia and it would have destroyed our whole family.
“I’ve always had a wonderful life in Australia, I’ve been here in Warragul for 25 years.”
Keen to meet the man who made her life in Australia possible, Helen kept the story alive in the hope their paths may cross.
Miltiades also kept the story alive, and through a local who holidays there each year a meeting has been set up some 59 years after the event with Miltiades greeting Helen off the plane at Whitsundays airport.
“He was talking about this man who told him about the girl who had been kidnapped in 1959 and I knew it wasn’t a coincidence,” Helen said.
“He remembered me and thought one day he might meet me.
“It’s been 59 years but it’s come to a happy ending.”
Helen Perikkentis holds a photo of her family that she immigrated to Australia with in 1959.