Amphissa / Amfissa

Freedom of Amphissa/Red Cross


In October 1948, Irene Mawer and Ruby Ginner were awarded the Freedom of the town of Amphissa, Greece, in grateful thanks for their fund-raising to help Greece after World War 2.


Modern spellings are hampering my research into where exactly Amphissa (or Amfissa) is.  The Ginner-Mawer School magazine, Parados seems to place it in Phokidos, but I can not find anywhere of this name.  The nearest I can come to it is Phokis (Phoci) which is promising, as: ‘Phokis was a region in the central part of ancient Greece which was home to the renowned Sanctuary of Delphi located on the slopes of Grand Mount Parnassos, a point once considered by the ancient Greeks to be the center of the world.’(Wikipedia)  I could well imagine Ginner-Mawer being associated with the Sanctuary of Delphi.


The freedom of the town was bestowed on the pair in their role as Directors of the Amphissa Adoption Fund.  Nancy Sherwood (Honorary Secretary) and Mr T Jago (Honorary Treasurer) were also made Freemen.


In January 1948 we learn from the Cornish newspapers that ‘Boscastle School Aids Greek Town’.  The news clipping reads: 


‘In 1944 the teachers and students of the Ginner-Mawer School, then at Boscastle and now at Cheltenham, decided to raise a fund to assist war-stricken Greece.  Greek dancing has always been one of the school’s special subjects and some years ago a number of students, with the principals, gave performances in the ancient theatres of Greece.  In co-operation with the Greek Red Cross, the school adopted the town of Amphissa, where the people wanted the money spent on iron pipes, urgently needed to restore the water supply.  For many months it was not possible to act on this suggestion, but recently the Greek Red Cross said permits had been obtained and £1,600 paid to Greek Red Cross for the pipes.’(Cornish Post, January 1948)


The money was raised from ticket sales of Ginner-Mawer School performances and in 1945 there is another mention in the School magazine which stated that the fund-raising effort was to be accelerated in the hope of collecting a further £500, which would bring the full total up to £2,000 (approximatley #60,000 – sixty thousand British pounds, today).


The Amphissa Adoption Fund had raised money which was used to re-establish the town’s water supply after World War 2.  The letter of thanks from the Municipal Council of Amphissa included the following words: 


‘We wish to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude for your generous contribution towards the re-establishment of the water supply of the town.  The water pipes placed in the square of Anagyros Simopoulos will supply sorely needed water to the people of the town, who, we wish to assure you, will be for ever indebted to you for your great generosity…your help has created a noble and exalted link between you all and our Community, a link which will remain deeply engraved in the hearts of all our population.’  


Sadly, the link seems to no longer exist as I have had no response to my enquiries.  Perhaps one day I will be able to travel to Amphissa to find out if the museum, or a local history group, might perhaps hold any clues.


The Freedom was a thank you for the ‘splendid help given to the Community’ and must have been a tremendous source of pride to all those involved in the fund-raising.


(The above information is from the Ginner-Mawer School magazine, Parados, published in May 1949, p.1.)


Sadly, although I have made extensive enquiries with the Red Cross, both in Greece and in the UK, I have not been able to find out any information relating to either the Freedom of the town, or indeed whether the Gold Leaf commemorative medal and diploma awarded by the Hellenic Red Cross to Ruby Ginner for her services to Greece in WW2 might also have been awarded to Irene Mawer.  The mystery remains…

Author: Janet Fizz Curtis

Janet Fizz Curtis is trained in the Irene Mawer Method of Mime and Movement and is now writing a book about the life of Irene Mawer.

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