Story kept alive un­til re­union 59 years later

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEW YEAR'S EVE -

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.

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