Rotary Club of St Hilarion, Kyrenia

Gala Evening at The Grand Pasha Hotel

In aid of Engelsiz Yaşam Evi
(Home for the Young Disabled)

 

By Margaret Sheard….
Video by Chris Elliott….

What a glittering evening this gala event was, with the guests having the opportunity of dressing for the occasion in their best finery and attending the event in the Vienna Ballroom of The Grand Pasha Hotel in Kyrenia on Saturday 2nd May.St Hilarion Rotary Club

The evening was in aid of Engelsiz Yaşam Evi (Home for the Young Disabled) in Lefkoşa which has the support of International Soprano and GRAMMY nominee – Demetra George-Mustafaoğlu who gave her time to entertain the guests, together with Maestro Rauf Kazimov.  We were also treated to a recital by 8-year old pianist Suna Alsancak, who gave a brilliant performance, as well as dancers Önder Egeli & Behiye Berktug and Grup Karnaval.

Mehmet and Demetra Mustafaoglu with President Mustafa and Meral Akinci
Mehmet and Demetra Mustafaoglu with President Mustafa and Meral Akinci

I am sure many of the guests were surprised to see the arrival of the new TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı and his wife Meral and also the American Ambassador John Koenig and his wife Natalie, who joined Mehmet Mustafaoğlu and Demetra George-Mustafaoğlu with their other guests – Past District Governor Kevork Mahdessian and his wife, Deputy District Governor Elect  Dinçer Çağın and Sertaç Gümüş – President of Rotary Club of St Hilarion Kyrenia.

On an adjacent table hosted by Figen Rasmussen, the organiser of the event, were the Minister of Labour and Social Services – Aziz Gürpinar and his wife and President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce – Fikri Toros and guest, together with other guests.

We were treated to a recital by 8 year old Suna Alsancak who gave a brilliant performance and at one point she was joined by Rauf Kazimov for another superb piano piece.   I think we will be seeing a lot more of Suna in years to come.

The theme of the evening was “Love Makes the World Go Around” and Demetra entered the ballroom singing as she walked among the tables before  taking  the stage, when we were treated to many love songs. some from the popular musicals – Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Porgy & Bess, Les Miserables, West Side Story and many others, including an aria from the opera Carmen.

Demetra and Fikri Toros accompanied by Rauf Kazimov
Demetra and Fikri Toros accompanied by Rauf Kazimov

At one point Demetra was joined by Fikri Toros in an amusing rendition of “I Remember it Well” much to the delight of the audience.

Demetra is very passionate about helping the TRNC in any way she can and especially the plight of young disabled people and she was pleased to be able to give her time and talent for this gala fundraising occasion.

Mother of the Year award to Beria Insel by Sertaç Gümüş and Demetra George-Mustafaoglu
Mother of the Year award to Beria Insel by Sertaç Gümüş and Demetra George-Mustafaoglu

Another event included in the gala evening was an award for “Mother of the Year” and this was awarded to Beria Insel who had been nominated by her grand-daughter Simge Insel.   The story behind the award is –  In 1976, Beria was left with 7 children to raise who were between the ages of 6 and 17 and she did this by working in as many menial jobs she could find to help her give the children a good life.  Among the jobs Beria undertook was at the village bakers and cleaning at the council offices.  On top of this she battled twice against cancer and at the moment is in remission.  Beria still lives in the same village and is very happy surrounded by her much loved family.   Being a very private person, Beria was very shocked to learn that she had been nominated and had won the award.

Önder Egeli & Behiye Berktug
Önder Egeli & Behiye Berktug

We had a lovely 4-course meal prepared by The Grand Pasha and could not fault the excellent food and service by their helpful and efficient waiters.

During the evening there was a display by two very accomplished dancers – Önder Egeli & Behiye Berktug, who showed us how the tango should be danced which had everyone enthralled.

There was a raffle with many lovely prizes and an auction for again some lovely items including a dress donated by Demetra.   The raffle prize winners were announced and the lucky winners gathered to collect their prizes.  There were 3 guests at our table who won a raffle prize so they were delighted.

This is what Demetra had to say about the gala evening – Gorgeous evening, filled with excitement.   It was an honour to sing for the US Ambassador John Koenig and his wife Natalie and the TRNC President Mustafa Akinci and First Lady Meral. Hanim.  The audience Demetra George-Mustafaogluwas extremely appreciative and even sang along to the encore Memleketim!  I was thrilled to be a part of this fundraiser to raise funds for Handicapped Children and I returned to keep my word to the amazing Figen Vicky Rasmussen to present a winning event!  Our second daughter marries shortly so our time was tight! I have to keep my word and loved bringing my 25 donations as I met so many wonderful Turkish Cypriots who didn’t say no to me.  Great population here in Turkish Cypriot Community.  My husband Mehmet is the Honorary  Representative from KKTC to LA and we do all we can to aid in growing this culture.  I hope to sing with the President’s symphony next year as I have brought my symphony orchestrations here. Something new for the island!

On a final note we would like to add that the event was organised almost single-handedly by Figen Vicky Rasmussen, Figen Rasmussen with President Akinci and Meral Akinciwith encouragement and support from Demetra George-Mustafaoğlu, and she made an excellent job of getting everything right on the night.   The following day Figen said “My heart is so FULL of thanks today. I want to say thank you to President Akinci and Mrs Meral Akinci, American Ambassador Koenig and Mrs Natalie Koenig for attending.  A huge thank you to Demetra George and Rauf Kasimov, Group Karnaval, Önder Egeli & Behiye Berktug and young star pianist Suna Alsancak for freely giving their support in raising funds for the Engelsiz Yasam Evi (Home for the Young Disabled) and helping to make our Gala Dinner enjoyable and successful”.

It was a lovely evening and hopefully the first of many other events to raise funds for this very worthy cause.

Special thanks to Hatice Salih Kerimgil for supplying photographs for us to use in our article and the following video.