AHEPA NSW marks 90 year anniversary with grand celebration

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The Australian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA NSW Inc) marked its 90th anniversary with a splendid luncheon at Novotel Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney on Sunday, May 26.

The event, attended by distinguished guests and members, was a testament to the organisation’s enduring commitment to education, health, and community service.

Emcee Nia Gitsa opened the event by extending heartfelt thanks to the guests, volunteers, and sponsors. Among the special guests were Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, representing Archbishop Makarios of Australia; High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis; Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Steve Kamper MP, representing NSW Premier Chris Minns MP; Member for Hughes, Jenny Ware MP, representing Leader of the Federal Opposition, Peter Dutton MP; Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Mark Coure MP; as well as presidents and representatives from various Greek and Cypriot organisations.

Official guests in attendance. All photos copyright The Greek Herald.

The official proceedings commenced with Jim Tsolakis performing the National Anthems of both Greece and Australia. Bishop Iakovos offered his blessing and delivered an official address.

This was followed by an address from AHEPA NSW President, Jim Papanagiotou, who reflected on the organisation’s highs and lows over the past nine decades. He highlighted AHEPA’s significant contributions to charity, particularly in education and health, and its efforts to build a strong legacy. Mr Papanagiotou emphasised the importance of unity and the need to acknowledge and forgive past mistakes, expressing his goal for the coming year to regain the respect of the Australian Hellenic community. He also discussed plans to find a new location for members to gather.

The celebration continued with the cutting of the 90th-anniversary cake by the officials, commemorating this significant milestone. During lunch, Ms Gitsa read a message from the Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic responsible for Hellenes Abroad, Georgios Kotsiras.

Mr Sammoutis then expressed his sincere gratitude for being part of the celebration. Following him, Mr Mallikourtis praised AHEPA’s president for openly acknowledging the organisation’s challenges and stressed the importance of unity to continue their community initiatives and charitable work. He congratulated AHEPA for its efforts in preserving the Greek language, specifically through its support of the Macquarie Greek Studies Foundation.

Ioannis Mallikourtis.
Antonis Sammoutis.
Bishop Iakovos.
Nia Gitsa.
Steve Kamper MP.
Jim Papanagiotou.
Jenny Ware.
Mark Coure MP.

Minister Kamper spoke about celebrating past achievements while also focusing on the future to ensure AHEPA remains a “caring, generous, and effective organisation.” He commended AHEPA’s efforts to preserve cultural heritage and its significant fundraising contributions over the past decade, including over $150,000 donated to educational initiatives and large donations to Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Ms Ware underscored AHEPA’s dedication to promoting Greek language and philanthropy. She noted the cultural contributions made by Greeks throughout history and commended AHEPA for its ongoing efforts to preserve these traditions.

The awards segment followed, with several recognitions presented:

  • AHEPA NSW Inc Service Award: Presented to Melpo Kaimasidou for 40 years of service, awarded by Mr Mallikourtis.
  • Award for Contributions to Australian Hellenism in Media and Communications: Presented to The Greek Herald, accepted by Publisher Dimitra Skalkos, and awarded by Mr Sammoutis and Mr Papanagiotou.
  • Award for Contributions to Australian Hellenism in Culture: Awarded to Vasilis Vasilas for his work documenting migrant stories through film and photography.
  • Ahepan of the Year: Awarded to Dr Panayiotis Diamadis for his long-term dedication since 1991, presented by Bishop Iakovos and Mr Papanagiotou.
  • Special Honour: Given to former President John Kallimanis for his service and reforms during his presidency, including the ‘Teaching Hellenic via Tablets’ project. The award was presented by Minister Kamper and Mr Papanagiotou.
Award winners. All photos copyright The Greek Herald.

Mr Coure concluded the formal presentations by congratulating all award recipients and thanking AHEPA for their ongoing support of both the Greek and New South Wales communities over the past 90 years.

The event continued with a performance by the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney dancers. AHEPA presented two handmade traditional costumes to the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney, which were modelled by Christopher Lambropoulos and Ioanna Diamadis.

Ahepa NSW 90 Years
Ahepa NSW 90 Years

The costumes were presented by AHEPA Events Committee Chair, Effie Kallimanis, and Mr Papanagiotou, and accepted by President of the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney, Liana Vertzayias, and committee members.

The celebration concluded with raffle prizes, live music, and an afternoon of dancing, encapsulating the spirit and dedication of AHEPA NSW Inc as it embarks on its next chapter.

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