Biggest Orchid Walk Ever!

The weather changed and had a kind face on Sunday 24th February, when the Orchid Walk 2013 was held between Kozanköy and Karşıyaka and when I arrived early at the starting point there was much activity with walkers collecting their event packs with T-Shirt and balloons.

Soon many more people were arriving followed by coaches coming from all major cities in Coaches arrivingNorth Cyprus to disgorge their happy passengers who were so eager to take part in this great event.

In this quiet mountain village the main road was soon full of so many people who had started to walk in a steady stream up the mountain road together with the colourful selection of balloons.

Passing by was a happy Professor Mustafa Djamgoz from the Imperial College in London and Head of the Cancer Research team in the UK, who said they had sold 1.000 walkers’ tickets but they had received many more calls from people wanting to take part. Standing there looking at the throng of people of all shapes and sizes, some with dogs and others with prams and small children all following the procession, you could not help but believe the world had turned out for this event.

Soon the people had gone and after the gridlocked street was cleaOchid Walk 2013red of coaches, I was able to retrieve my car for the drive over the mountain to Karşıyaka which was a slow speed due to the many number of walkers all bobbing along with their balloons.

For some the effort was a little extreme and twice I stopped to pick up tired passengers who sat in the back of my car happily chatting in Turkish before they begged to be let out once the terrain was suitable for them again. At one point on the route many people had stopped for refreshments or simply a rest and it was so nice to see all of the beautiful spring flowers showing their faces and forming a carpet for people to sit on.

Now slowly, slowly I drove down the mountain road weaving in and out of happy walkers and soon I came into  Karşıyaka and followed the route marked by red silk ribbons tied to telegraph poles.

Pirjo Bowman first to finish
Pirjo Bowman first to finish

Arriving at the local school and parking, I was suddenly passed by a young boy who was sprinting to the finishing line, seemingly one of the first to finish the walk. Walking into the school yard I met a Finnish lady, Pirjo Boman who was in fact the first walker to complete the walk in 43 minutes. Not a bad effort for a regular visitor to North Cyprus who had only just arrived two days ago and made the supreme effort of taking part and being first.

This reminded me of last year when I met Brian Thomas MBE the former Chairman of Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch together with his dog Heidi arriving in the town square in Ҫatalkoy at a fast pace and he said, “That was very hard and I wanted to feel some pain in memory of Maureen Hutchinson who was a wonderful lady and I am very glad to support this cause”.

This thought I am sure was in the mind of so many perhaps who had come with the memory of a loved one or friend they had lost and for everyone taking part in the 2013 Orchid Walk the following must have been very dear to them “Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart“.

By now the school playground had seen a group of antique cars and their owners arrive soon followed by a group of cyclists who had taken part in another event to finish here.

Gangnam Style
Gangnam Style

Professor Mustafa Djamgoz thanked everybody that had helped make this the biggest Orchid Walk ever and called for one minute’s silence in memory of those who had been taken by the scourge of cancer. Now the many hundreds of balloons were released and everybody was singing “You’ll never walk alone” which brought, the biggest get-together yet, of people with hope in their hearts.

Now the party atmosphere started again with Professor Mustafa Djamgoz leading a 97 year old man into the large group of dancers and with so many people of all ages that were all dancing to “Gangnam Style” it was a joy to see.

By Chris Elliott

To see many pictures and hear the sounds from this wonderful day, please view the video below.