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Published on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Trade colleagues say goodbye to Peter Adamou

Travel industry colleagues attended the funeral yesterday of former Louis Cruise Line UK manager and Olympic Airways director Peter Adamou, who died earlier this month. His friend Noel Josephides read the eulogy. Read it here in full.

"As far as I know, Peter started off as an accountant working in Knightsbridge; it was only in the mid sixties that he entered the travel industry, as a sales representative for Olympic Airways.

Following a trip to Athens in 1970 - and encouraged by Makis Fokas, a very well-known Greek hotelier - together with Heather [his business partner], he decided to set up a tour operation which they called Libra, a name many of us will know. I forget how I was first introduced to Peter but both John der Parthog and I know that, without Peter's help, Sunvil might never have happened. In those days it was not easy for a fledgling company with no licences and no track record to buy aircraft seats. Libra made what were then called SGIT seats available to us, and thus Sunvil was born.

The events of 1974 changed our lives for ever.  For those of us who are old enough to remember, life will always be split into before the invasion and after the invasion.  We used to congregate at the offices of Cyprus Airways to commiserate and wait for news about what might lie ahead. None of us knew what the future held.  Peter again came to our help and organised for Heather to drive into the occupied north and report on the villas and apartments owned by our UK clients.  Many had been vandalised by the occupying troops.  I think we charged our owners £5 for the monthly reports; it is how we made our living and survived until the situation stabilised.

We also hit on another idea to make ends meet.  We sent a menu of Cypriot dishes to our mailing list of regular clients who lived in the areas surrounding Richmond where we were based at the time.  The clients picked the dishes they wanted, my mother cooked the meals and John and I delivered to their houses.  Heather was a regular client.  Perhaps we should have carried on with this idea as it would have been more lucrative than tour operating.

Shortly after the invasion, Peter left Libra and went back to Olympic Airways, where he set up Allsun Holidays.  I believe the name is still being used in Australia.

We had lost so much money as a consequence of the invasion that all we could afford, at Peter's suggestion, for Sunvil's first brochure on Greece in 1975, was an Olympic Airways standard shell brochure which provided the picture template for the operator to fill in the words. Again it was Peter and his contacts who enabled us to diversify and begin our operation to Greece.

Peter took the next step in his career in 1987 by leaving the airline industry and moving to Rhodes to manage the incoming agent Ialyssos Travel, where he stayed for eight years. We missed having him in the UK. Judging by the many conversations I had with him during that period, his stint on Rhodes and Kos was a baptism by fire in terms of trying to bring some order to the incoming sector in Greece.

In March 1995, Peter moved back to London and to Louis Cruises where he managed the promotional side of the London office, again in collaboration with Heather.  He remained there until he retired, by which time he had become an expert in yet another sector of the travel industry.

Shortly before he had his stroke, in 2012, he was negotiating with a German cruise company to represent them in the UK.

Peter was a straight talker and had no respect for what one might call the 'bullshitters' of the travel industry.  He could see through the hot air, of which there is much in our sector. You could say he was irreverent, especially to those in authority who didn't know what they were talking about, and in particular to political appointees in the travel industry. He was my mentor and the person I could turn to when things were going wrong. Peter was a kindred spirit. He never took himself too seriously, and was always ready to see the humorous side of things.

To see Peter lying in bed in the care home after his stroke, unable to speak and paralysed down his right side, was heartbreaking.  I will always feel that I did not visit him enough, that a busy workload got in the way of what I should have been doing, which was being there to break the sheer boredom of what must have been an absolutely mind-numbing six years of just lying there with the massive frustration of not being able to speak.  As soon as Peter saw any of us who visited walk into his room, he would burst into tears - tears of sheer frustration.

In this busy life there is such a lack of compassion and time for reflection and human interaction. Somehow, we don't have our priorities right.

We spend much of our lives with work colleagues - much more time than with our parents or siblings.  To lose one of our own is painful, just like losing a parent or a brother or sister.

I won't forget you, Peter.  You helped Sunvil and me personally at a time when nobody else would.  You didn't know us and yet you trusted us.  If John der Parthog, my partner, were alive today he would echo these sentiments and more. He and I will forever be grateful for your friendship and your care, compassion and all-important support.  Thank you."


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