By Bejay Browne
FAMILY and friends attended the funeral of writer Sheila Hawkins at Neo Chorio church on Monday, amid tributes pouring in for the much loved local personality.
The UK-born author died at the Friends hospice on Sunday.
Hawkins is best known for her ‘Back of Beyond’ trilogy, (The Back of Beyond, Beyond Our Dreams, and Beyond Compare) in which the author conveys her love of Cyprus, her family’s experience with traditional village life and the unspoiled nature surrounding the village she so loved.
Local characters are brought to life and the author’s prevailing sense of humour shines through. Beautiful illustrations are provided by her husband Harry Hawkins, a keen artist.
Sheila Hawkins also penned ‘Anthology from the Akamas,’ a collection of articles originally written for the Cyprus Mail. Her books are available in paperback and electronic form via the Amazon website.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Sheila on a number of occasions,” said Friends hospice spokesman Colm Connolly, adding that “she was such a life force and united the entire community — both Cypriots and expats. She was a truly remarkable woman who loved the island and along with husband Harry, had a long love affair with Cyprus.”
He added: “She did so much to help so many local charities, not just the Friend’s hospice, and she loved everyone. She had the ability to get on with all types of people, and for her everyone seemed important.”
Hawkins was born in Torquay and went on to become a swimming teacher. She later met and married Harry and the couple had two children, Karen and Jeremy.
The pair first experienced Cyprus in 1971 when Harry — a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force — was posted to RAF Episkopi.
Following the invasion of Cyprus, the pair moved back to the UK where they remained until 1980. But a deep rooted love for the island remained.
The author’s husband was again posted to Cyprus as a senior education and training officer at RAF Akrotiri.
Three years later, the couple bought a piece of land in Neo Chorio, close to the unspoiled area of the Akamas. It was here they later built their home and the author took up writing about her experiences.
A special tribute to Sheila Hawkins by Chrissie Flint will be published in the Cyprus Mail on Saturday.