We at GCWS-Rhodes are celebrating our 10th year on the island, with this in mind it was decided to change the newsletter format by dedicating January to one of the kindest cat / animal loving people of all time.
Small of stature but with a HUGE heart, Yiannis ( Pied piper of Pefkos ) so named as the cats adore him and follow him everywhere, sadly sometimes to their detriment as traffic doesn’t tend to slow down when cats run out in the road to greet him, however no one would want to be in the drivers seat if Yiannis saw an accident happen ….
My first meeting with Yiannis was close to 10yrs ago when he walked from Pefkos village to Lindos some 6kls backwards and forwards twice daily, rain or shine feeding cats along the way…
He is not financially well off as many people seem to think but no matter where or how he received money every single cent was spent on the cats, if no money available he would beg for old bread or pastries from the local bakeries just so the cats could eat something.… His English was very basic as was my Greek, we managed to communicate with a little assistance from a local, whereupon it was explained to him if he wanted to carry on feeding the cats with better quality food and if happy to assist us by informing GCWS-Rhodes about any sick, injured cats or ones that required neutering the charity would be VERY happy to provide him with 1 x 20kg bag of biscuits plus 1 x tray of 24 tins of meat per month… In actual fact that wasn’t a great deal considering he probably fed 80-100 per day, unfortunately back then very few funds were available for feeding but slowly over the years, money raised from donation pots plus extremely generous supporters we were then able to double the amount of cat food.
Yiannis was true to his word, although never having owned a phone he would when desperately needing help badger, pester and harass anyone to ring my GCWS mobile number, which he still treasures.
Sometimes tragically too late, other times false alarms, many times other animals were involved, dogs to donkeys but his calls always investigated.
As the years have passed Yiannis now 75yrs of age converses in broken English, obviously getting slower with a few falls along the way but bounces back. He now waits for lifts more than ever which is fine during the summer, winter not so many cars about however regardless he still does his daily rounds Pefkos – Lardos, back again to Pefkos and the gruelling uphill walk to Lindos….
At one stage, surprisingly he requested a volunteer badge which we wear when out and about feeding or trapping, we were only too happy to oblige and he was chuffed to pieces…
He is an icon to many tourists who have known Yiannis for years, some deliberately track him down so as to hand him money, others just want a photo together with this wonderfully happy character. He is loved by many, so much so when his poor battered old broken trolly could move no more funds were very quickly raised as many wanted to help purchase his German built, sturdy metal trolley which he brings out to collect cat food..Many of his beloved cats have passed away over the years but he still has a few favourites, enjoying their company whenever he can. During our November TNR he was sitting with his fur babies awaiting his delivery of cat food, our volunteers Teresa & Pete sat chatting with him and requested a photo, he was as usual genuinely happy to oblige…
Yiannis is also quite religious, earlier in the year whilst neutering at Skiadi monastery he was invited for tea and to meet Father Gennadi. He was absolutely delighted as was Father Gennadi who was quite impressed to learn that he is so cared for. Yiannis was thrilled requesting another visit to the monastery, Christmas was suggested which fitted quite well as he would then receive the gifts donated to him each year.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading about Yiannis this wonderful man I am extremely proud to call a friend, to write about and dedicate this newsletter to such a kind gentle person is an absolute pleasure If only there were more like him….