By Bejay Browne
MUCH-LOVED Paphos based artist and musician Harry Hawkins has died, just eight months after the death of his author wife Sheila Hawkins.
The 82-year-old’s funeral was held at Neo Chorio village church in Paphos on October 7. Hawkins, who illustrated his wife’s books on local life and characters died at Limassol General Hospital on October 4.
The couple had two children, Karen and Jeremy and first experienced Cyprus in 1971 when Harry — a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force — was posted to RAF Episkopi.
Following the invasion, the pair moved back to the UK where they remained until 1980. But a deep rooted love for the island remained.
Hawkins 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 near Latchi and close to the unspoiled area of the Akamas. It was here they later built their home and Sheila took up writing about her experiences, Harry provided the drawings.
Sheila 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. Beautiful illustrations are provided by Hawkins, who was a keen artist.
The Hawkins’ Neo Chorio home also served as their office, studio and gallery. Harry’s distinctive style included work in acrylics, pen and ink and line and wash and a series of prints.
The former Royal Air Force pilot immersed himself in the social and cultural activities of the Paphos district and both he and his wife were baptised into the Orthodox Church.
Hawkins was also a keen musician. According to his musical partner Mark Thompson, he played and owned most brass instruments including the tuba, euphonium, tenor horn, flugelhorn and French horn. He was also a talented drummer.
“In his youth, Harry was a drummer with a dance band in Devon and during his time with the RAF he helped to run a number of military bands. Music was a huge part of his life as well as his art,” said Thompson.
The musician, well known for his guitar and vocal performances, first met Sheila and Harry Hawkins close to 20 years ago and performed with Harry in Cyprus for over nine years.
“For many years Harry used to stand alone in the harbour area playing Christmas carols on his euphonium and entertaining people. He got me involved with this as well and we also performed at a number of charity events as well as other concerts.”
Hawkins played at numerous fund-raising events for The Friends’ Hospice.
Chris Jones, President of hospice’s Foundation, said: “Harry was generous of mind and of his time and was passionate in his support for our efforts. He always had a ready smile for everyone and his old world courtesy pervaded. We will all miss him.”
Sheila Hawkins died at the Friends hospice in February.
Thompson said: “They were a great couple. I think losing his wife of 56 years was too much for him.”