For a quarter of a century, the Hellenic Centre is an open door for anyone interested in Greek culture, history and language.
A landmark year for the Hellenic Centre in London was 2019. The Centre celebrated its 25-year anniversary- a milestone on the long journey from the dream of a small group of London Greek Cypriots all those years ago, to the reality of a vibrant cultural and community centre in the heart of Marylebone. In 1993, with renovations underway, the building was blessed by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and was officially inaugurated on November 18th 1994 by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Glafkos Clerides.
As a project of the Hellenic Community Trust, the Hellenic Centre is run by Trustees and their Executive Board, who are all volunteers and with the director and the necessary administrative staff who manage the day to day activities. Since its creation it has hosted a great variety of exhibitions, lectures, performances, children’s events, film screenings, discussions, readings and presentations, most of them, free for the public. One of the core activities since 1999 has been the provision of the Greek language courses for adults, which has attracted over 300 students from over 40 different ethnic backgrounds.
The idea of a Hellenic Centre for all cultural purposes born in the late 1970s, when a group of community spirited Greeks united in order to offer inspiration and shelter for Greek and Greek Cypriot culture in London. The Hellenic Cultural Centre was formed in 1978 through the hard work of those people. Among the aims of the founders, was the acquisition of a building in the centre of London to provide a base and nurture the unique relationship between British and Hellenic world.
The present home, of Hellenic Centre, a beautiful Portland stone and red brick building in one of the most charming and sought after areas of London, was built in the early 1990s as a college for Swedish gymnastics teachers. With the help of a generous first donation by the AG Leventis Foundation, Mr and Mrs Stelios Ioannou, Fafalios Shipping SA, the Bank of Cyprus London Ltd, the Hellenic Cultural Centre. The Hellenic Community Trust was established as a charitable body to take ownership of the building.
With subsequent donations from the Governments of Cyprus and Greece, the families and Foundations of Kedros, Laskarides, Latsis, Lemos, Mouskas, Paraskevaides, Papakokkinos and Yemelos, the Michael Marks Charitable Trust and many individual donors, 16-18 Paddington Street was transformed into an elegant space.
Edmee Leventis O.B.E, Chairman (1997-2001)
The Hellenic Centre has been a true labour of love for many people and it is with great emotion and gratification that we celebrate these 25 years of its existence as a landmark for both Hellenes and Philhellenes; a focal point of attraction in the life of the Greek and Greek-Cypriot Communities in London, located in the heart of their city.
Dimitra Mitsi-David, Founder
It was astonishing. Early 75, London, thousands of Greeks from Greece and Cyprus and not one place for all together, to meet, exchange ideas, continue their culture and transmit to the young, much less show it off to our host city London.[…]The fact that Greeks from Greece and those from Cyprus didn’t mingle in London, was galling! When I broached the matter to my husband Andreas and the determination to create a Centre for all the Hellenes and Philhellenes he was highly amused. When I pointed out how many young people including our young children were growing up rootless, possibly lost to Hellenism, he paused and reconsidered. And so, it began. A steering committee was formed. Eventually a suitable building was found and then Andreas persuaded his cousins and fellow board members of the A. G. Leventis Foundation to give generously.
The concept of the Centre was quickly embraced. So many people gave incredibley generously of their time, talent and money that the idea became a reality. A beacon of Hellenism and a secular partner of the Church in hospitable London.
Koula Lemos, Founder
“Over the years the Hellenic Centre has become a natural home for first class social and cultural events, not only for Hellenes but for the public in general”
Stamos J. Fafalios, Chairman, The Hellenic Centre Executive Board
“I applaud those who had the vision for such a centre, those who have helped create it, the Members who have supported it and continue to do so and, last but no least, those who run it on a daily basis. What images come to mind when I am asked about the Centre? Too many to mention here, but there are usually of a packed Great Hall, whether it be for a concert, a book presentation, an exhibition or an evening of songs and dance, of the teachers gathering outside on the pavement before they begin their Greek lessons, of intimate meetings in the library, of the shrieks of children enjoying themselves and of a hanging forest of Christmas trees.”
Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras, Ambassador of Greece
“It is a privilege to extend to the Chair and the Board of the Hellenic Centre and to all its members and supporters, my warmest greetings and wholehearted congratulations on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Centre’s founding and on its cultural and social contribution, since. The important milestone is a source of inspiration for every individual and organization interested in the Hellenic Centre culture and heritage. It should also serve as an encouragement for all to continue promoting the Hellenic Community in the UK with the same determination, faith and values that the founding members shared.”
Archibishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain (2019-present)
“During the past 25 years, the Hellenic Centre in London has left its indelible seal on the cultural affairs of the Greek Diaspora of London and I am sure that under your esteemed leadership, there will be even greater progress for the benefit of Hellenism and our Orthodox tradition”