Rummaging through old photographs in my office, I was desperate to find the one of superstar George Michael together with Lambros Lambrou, a former English Section Editor of Parikiaki.
As George rarely gave interviews, it was a huge honour for our newspaper back in September 1986 that he spoke to one of our journalists.
The photo you see above was taken when George attended the launch of Haringey Council’s Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell campaign
Lambros, now a Partner with YVA Solicitors, recalls: “The areas where he was supposed to meet with reporters was mobbed by Council staff and so after signing autographs, we went into a more private room where he spoke with reporters. He gave Parikiaki some time and we chatted about the day’s event and his own awareness of Thalassaemia but more widely about his plans having just gone solo; the event took place shortly after the Wham! Final Concert at Wembley.”
He added, “I remember he was quite reserved, even shy. He was there with his father Kyriacos (Jack). George had just passed his driving test and drove off in his new Mercedes SL Coupe, but not before stalling it a couple of times!…”
George, or Yog as he was known to his family and close friends, was a hugely generous philanthropist who kept secret his considerable charitable donations. He even helped out with one of the charity events that Parikiaki’s English Section organised. The singer donated a leather tour jacket from his Faith tour that he signed and verified and it was auctioned off by Barry ‘O Leventis’ Evangeli on Spectrum Radio with all proceeds going to Dr Kypros Nicolaides’ Harris Birthright Foundation.
He was also a Patron of the UK Thalassaemia Society (UKTS) since 2002. Having experienced the effects of Thalassaemia within his own family, George reached out to UKTS after the Society assisted with supporting one of his own family members. The support UKTS gave led to George’s quiet, but substantial support of the charity for over fifteen years.
“His support touched the lives of thousands of people affected by Thalassaemia in the UK and abroad,” said a statement released by UKTS following his untimely death on Christmas Day 2016.
Like much of the late singer’s philanthropy, which has surfaced to the public light since the days and weeks following his death, the annual donation was given with the premise that it was not to be publicized in any way.
“George Michael was UKTS’ biggest benefactor,” the statement adds. “His support of our work will be sorely missed.”
UKTS Trustee, George Constantinou said, “The world has lost a great hero who gave tirelessly in support of our charitable work.”