Over 300 Lemnians attended the Vogue Ballroom on Saturday 11 October to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Lemnian Community of Victoria. The members of O Hephaestus, which happens to be one of the first and most active Greek communities in Australia, managed to gather the respectable amount of $8,010 – money which will be donated to Thalassaemia Australia. Christina Despoteris was the host for the evening, while president Malama Varvara welcomed guests with a short but emotional brief regarding the history of the organisation. Mr Lee Tarlamis MP highlighted the organisation’s struggle throughout the years, to preserve the traditions and the legacy of Lemnos, showing great resilience and creativity.
The Lemnians were in fact among the first Greeks who arrived in Australia in the mid-19th century. It is said that Costantis Makras, who fought for Greek independence, gave his two sailing vessels to the Kanellos and Tramoundanis families, helping them reach this promising yet far-away land. And so they did. In 1901 Eleftherios Kanellos established Lemnos & Co. in Brisbane. In 1939, Ioanni Tsoha, managed to unite the Lemnians via a fundraiser for a funeral, making use of his strong relations to the Lemnian Community in Egypt. This was the first step to the later establishment of the Union of Lemnians in Melbourne, O Hephaestus.
From that day on, the union sees to the social, spiritual and intellectual development of its members, helping one another and providing medical assistance to those in need.
Dimitrios Blablani was the organisation’s inaugural president and Ioanni Tsoha the secretary, counting 72 registered members back in 1939, following the constitution of the Lemnian Community of Egypt, but circa 1956, O Hephaestus developed its own. The organisation grew a lot stronger under Odeseas Marmaras’ presidency, which lasted for 30 fruitful years. The union now has a great soccer team, a dancing group, a youth club, Miss Lemnos pageant and takes pride in its very dynamic elderly citizens club which has worked tirelessly to raise funds, whilst promoting Lemnian culture and heritage for future generations.
“With the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee we are working to make sure that Lemnos and its role in Australia’s Anzac story is commemorated during the Centenary of Anzac celebrations next year. Our new memorial to be erected in Albert Park, where many Lemnians first arrived in Melbourne, will be a lasting reminder of Lemnos’ part in Australia’s story,” said president Malama Varvara.
The members of the Lemnian Community of Victoria have managed to entwine both Greek and Australian cultures, constantly promoting humanitarian acts, sports and arts since its establishment. We therefore wish them even more years of prosperity and successful celebrations.
source: Neos Kosmos