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Bravery, compassion honoured in annual awards

All the nominees and winners at Saturday's ceremony (Chris Hopkins)

OUTSTANDING dedication to refugees, fundraising for children by children and courage and inspiration, were all awarded at a packed 10th Hearts of Gold Cyprus awards held in Paphos on Saturday.

Rehab Al Habrat from Paphos and nine-year-old Emma Savva from Larnaca were announced as this year’s adult and junior winners, respectively.

Taylor Hargett, 16, from Paphos and 94-year-old Ray Woolley, from Limassol, were also winners, and were awarded the Jasmitha award for courage and the Hearts of Gold Lifetime Achievement award.

Rehab, a mother of four, originally from Syria, has lived in Cyprus for 14 years and volunteers at Caritas to support refugees. She delivers food and helps Arabic speaking refugees whenever needed at schools, hospitals, with lawyers, immigration, the labour office and more. She also helps the UN Commission for refugees understand the difficulties refugees face, drawing on her own experience.

Junior winner, Emma Savva, has organised ‘Emma’s Run Kids for Kids’ charity run for the last three years. The idea to organise a fundraiser for children, undertaken by children, came from Emma, when at seven, she learnt that children in poorer parts of the world have to work to attend school, earning just a few cents a day.

Taylor, 16, was awarded the Jasmitha award for courage. She experienced a difficult early life and has shown strength of character and determination. Supported by her guardians, Taylor is a good student and read at this year’s Remembrance Day service in Kato Paphos. Taylor’s stoicism and courage are a great example to everyone, said the judges.

Ninety-four year old Woolley is the world’s oldest active scuba diver, often going down to 30 and 40 metres. The sprightly nonagenarian is fit, energetic and an inspiration to many and promotes a healthy lifestyle. He has encouraged numerous people of all ages to take up diving, and says “you’re never too old to do what you love”. He served with distinction in the Royal Navy radio branch in WWII before being seconded to the ‘special boat services’. Whilst working for the British Foreign Office, Ray trained as a radio engineer and was first posted to Cyprus in 1964, where he undertook three tours of duty.

Overwhelmed by his win, a beaming Ray said: “I can’t believe it, I’m in shock and I’m very grateful.”

Honorary Patron of the 2017 awards, Charalampous Theopemptou, presented the awards and said: “It was an honour to be among so many people that not only care but also promote the caring culture and philanthropy. My congratulations to all of the nominees and winners.

For the first time this year a number of honorary mentions were also awarded and in the adult section were: Costas Gavrielides the President of Accept – LGBT Cyprus recognised for his support of the LGBTI community; Petros Stylianou from Paphos is an inspirational cancer survivor who cycles all over the world to raise thousands for Cyprus charities.

David and Cathy Lewis, also from Paphos, were awarded for their love, sensitivity, and support of an orphaned girl, who has blossomed under their care.

In the junior section, Ivan Durda, a 4-year-old from Paphos was recognised for his courage and ready smile, even when facing a barrage of treatment.

Adult winner Rehab with honorary patron Charalambos Theopemptou

And 18 year old Melika Golaghapoorniazi, who attends the International School of Paphos, was recognised for her selfless compassion, coping well with political and religious pressure before her move to Cyprus, and her academic prowess.

Hala Ayman Karoum, an 11-year-old from Paphos was awarded the Jasmitha Honorary Mention for her courage and strength of character. Hala and her family fled ISIS in Syria and she survived septicaemia. She has some physical difficulties but is always smiling and positive despite being in pain.

And finally, Giorgoula Gavrielidou was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award honorary mention. Giorgoula suffered from acute myelitis, and at the age of 12 ended up in a wheelchair. She overcame difficulties and now works at Paphos Hospital. She is a member of a basketball team for people in wheelchairs and is an active member of many volunteer events. She is also lobbying for Paphos to become friendly and accessible for people with disabilities.

British High Commission Matthew Kidd said that it was a pleasure to meet so many wonderful people from all over the island.

All of the nominees received a certificate and a flower presented by the British High Commissioner, British Vice Consul Christina Smith and members of the judging panel.

Nominees and their guests enjoyed a finger buffet and drinks after the ceremony and Father Christmas handed out gifts to the children.

The Hearts of Gold Cyprus awards celebrate philanthropy, humanity, volunteering and caring and recognise both children and adults from all over the island.

The annual award is supported by Paphos municipality, the British High Commission, Aphrodite Jewellers, Blevins Franks, Almyra Hotel, Massiva printers, Kivotos Gallery, the Cyprus Mail, The Paphos Post, In Focus films, TOTT Events, Joulietta chocolatier and patisserie and Kamanterena winery.

www.heartsofgoldcyprus.com and Hearts of Gold Cyprus on Facebook

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