Launch of the ‘Friends of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures’
by Jean Lane-Polyzoides , October 1999
This event was hosted by the Chairman of the new Committee, Dr.John Polyzoides, at his home in Krios 18-19th September.
If you ever doubted that the Gods of the Ancient Greeks still help us today in the last year of the 20th century, doubt no more - after all the disasters that had befallen Athens and the Greek people in the last few weeks we were holding our breath in case some other disaster happened to spoil our launch - but Zeus and his colleagues gave us good weather - in fact a perfect night - wonderful company, incredible help from all our friends in Paros and a feast fit for the Gods themselves.
On Friday 17th we gathered at the port to greet the delegation from the Melina Mercouri Foundation and our new Honorary President of the Association, Nana Mouskouri. Twenty-four hours later we met the British delegation which included the founder and secretary of the British Committee, Eleni Cubitt, whose tireless efforts have kept alive the movement for the return of the sculptures for the last seventeen years, and the Chairman, Graham Binns who founded Capital Radio in London many years ago. They were accompanied by the eminent Professor of Ancient Greek History and Language at Cambridge University, Paul Cartledge, and the writer, producer and broadcaster Michael Kustow. Sir Kenneth Alexander, Former Chairman of the University of Aberdeen, and the Labour Member of Parliament Eddie O’Hara also came to lend their support.
After a dinner at Porto Paros Hotel on Friday, kindly donated by the owner Makis Carpodenis, with other guests from UK and Athens, including the eminent archaeologist Evi Touloupa, we started the preparations for Saturday.
There was a lunch to welcome the Minister of Culture, Ms E. Papazoi and the General Secretary of the Ministry, Ms Lena Mendoni. Following this, the preparations intensified and suckling pigs were roasted together with other local dishes ready for the dinner. We had games of chess on the specially commissioned giant marble chess set and then 25 members of the Byzantine Choir, conducted by Nicos Soris and accompanied by Jeffrey Carson, entertained us magnificently. Following this twenty members of the Dance Group of Paros performed dances from the island - we are so lucky to have such a wonderful group on Paros and we always enjoy their performances. We are very grateful to all those concerned with both the choir and the dancers.
Ms Papazoi made a very good speech giving her full support for the new Association and for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures and she was followed by the Member of Parliament Eddie O’Hara who is also Chairman of the Anglo-Greek Parliamentary Committee, Graham Binns who is the Chairman of the British Committee, Michael Kustow who is a British film producer and writer who specialises in making films about Greek history and culture and their relevance to life in the 21st century, and Professor Paul Cartledge. Parts of all these speeches were filmed, as well as the interview kindly given by Nana Mouskouri, and shown the following evening on several of the Greek TV channels which will help enormously to encourage awareness of the movement to obtain the Parthenon Sculptures.
The following day, the Mayor of Paros arranged a tour of some of the archeological sites on the island, with the help of our local Head of Archaeology, Iannis Coryias who then gave us a very good tour of the Museum. We then rushed to the Church where Jeffrey Carson gave us a memorable guided tour which was entertaining as well as very instructive. The event finished with lunch at the Pandrossos Hotel where the Mayor gave a speech thanking the British Committee for sending such an important delegation of academics, media personalities and politicians.
We would personally like to thank all of you who came and gave your support and for your donations. Unfortunately, not many people signed the book so it is going to be difficult to contact you for future events and so if this applies to anyone reading this article, please let me know your name and address. The Bank Account number for anyone who wishes to donate to this cause, is National Bank of Greece, Paros Branch, 455 29602653, The Association for the Friends of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures.