Christmas time here on Paxos is certainly a much less frantic and stressful affair than is generally the case in Britain; the shops don’t exhibit their festive wares until the beginning of December and the fresh Brussels Sprouts didn’t arrive until the day before Christmas Eve! The biggest sop to the glamour and glitz of the yuletide season was the 6ft 6″ Santa Claus outside the Co-operative supermarket in Gaios; he rocked and rolled in time to festive music, his party piece a special rendition of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ (which many Paxiots now believe to be a traditional Christmas song)!
There was however an undercurrent of frenzied activity, on every street corner, in every shop and every bar people were being encouraged to part with their hard earned cash; not by over zealous shopkeepers but by a small team of British residents trying to raise money for the local High School.
Building on the tradition of the British Boxing Day swim there has for the last two years been a swim in Loggos harbour, participants in fancy dress of course, (so much more fun) and collections made for good causes on Paxos. In 2011 money was raised for PAWS (Paxos Animal Welfare Society) and in 2012 for the Medical Centre. This year a decision was made to support the young people of Paxos by raising money for the high school.
Times are still hard in Greece and the local high school in Paxos has struggled to manage with its limited funds, the Sixth form may have to close, they cannot afford to pay for oil to fire the radiators, or to buy new computers and other educational resources; therefore we felt it was time for action – we were going to ‘Splash for Cash’, (even if the cold water might kill us).
The local community really pulled together to support the Boxing Day Swim; businesses and individuals made generous cash donations, pledged amazing raffle prizes and hundreds of raffle tickets were purchased on the lead up to the main event.
Spiros opened the doors of Taxidi bar providing warming mulled wine, ‘loukamades’ (honey balls) and ‘kreatopita’ (meat pie), for the daring swimmers. The atmosphere was fun with silly costumes and high spirits. The Despina Ferry boat had intended to transport swimmers from Gaios to Loggos, and for us to swim from the vessel to the shore but choppy water meant that she couldn’t safely anchor in the harbour so it was simply a case of jumping, diving or being pushed from Loggos jetty.Collections continued into the New Year and on 02 January a special prize draw event was held at Pio Pio bar; raffle tickets were drawn, prizes claimed and ‘Thank You’s made to the event organisers and the Paxiots themselves for their generosity and support.
Well done and thank you everyone – it was really good fun.
Tracey Spencer Tootill
(Paxos Overseas Representative)