Our community history

60th Anniversary History
1964 - 2024

The Community of St George the Great Martyr was founded in 1964 by the then archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, the late Athenagoras Kokkinakis and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in All Saints Anglican Church, Kingston upon Thames. Thereafter, on payment of a nominal rent, all services were carried out at All Saints, Petersham, and this arrangement continued until 1976. The preparatory work was caried out by the late Leonidas Panayides who was subsequently appointed Chairman of the Community managing all aspects of the Community’s life, and the present Curate, Stelios Mamas, who served as the Secretary. The first Priest of the Community was the Very Rev. Archim. Makarios Pavlides, the present-day Bishop of Lampsakos in Geneva.

In 1966, although the numbers were small, a Greek School providing language classes was initiated firstly in a rented house and thereafter in Latchmere School. It was not until 1973 following a protracted research by Messers Constantinos Dracos and Savvas Karayiannis to identify the Greek families outside the immediate area but within reach of Kingston that the school functioned as a formal organised basis. Mr Dracos served as the first Headmaster and was succeeded by Mrs Isabella Constantinidou when the school became a permanent institution.

The Auxiliary Society of St Barbara was formed under the Chairmanship of Mrs Loula Hassikos to carry out charitable works, and to organise Community receptions, and other functions. She was succeeded in the Chair by the present Chairperson, Mrs Stella Papaionannou. The Society continues to provide a generous table of refreshments and finger foods every Sunday after Divine Liturgy.

In 1969 Fr Makarios moved to Germany and was succeded as Priest-in-Charge by Presbyter Charalambos Leontas, now retired.

In 1976 a building that had formally been a school, was purchased and this established the Church on its presents site, and allowed for other on site Community activities. The cost of the purchase of the freehold was covered by a generous donation of £65,000 by Gerasimos Constantinides which was the catalyst to commence this important chapter in the life of the Community. The conversion of the school to a Greek /orthodox Church and refurbishment of the other areas was in excess of £300,000. Archbishop Athenagoras presided at the official inauguration of the Church in November 1977.

Ten years later, in 1987, it was decided to carry out further development of the ancillary space to provide for wider usage and improved facilities for the Greek School which provided the teaching of Greek language and culture to the growing number of Greek families in the area and its environs.

In 1997 the Chairman Mr Panayides, passed away and was succeeded by Savvas Karayiannis who had served on the Committee from its inception. In the same year Mrs Simella Dennis became Headmistress of the school and served in this capacity until 2010.

In April 2000, Fr Charalambos retired and was succeeded by the Very Rev. Archim. Aemilianos Papadakis who is the incumbent priest, administering to the spiritual needs of the Community. In the course of Fr Aemilianos’s service, Stavros Solomou, a teacher in the Greek School was ordained as Deacon and then as Presbyter and now serves at St. Nicholas Cathedral.