Woman reunited with man 60 years after he saved her life
WHEN Helen Perikkentis stepped off her flight at Proserpine's Whitsunday Coast Airport on Boxing Day, the reality of her visit began to sink in.
Nervous, she and her husband made their way towards the baggage carousel.
Her eyes darted to and fro, her luggage the last thing on her mind.
An instant later, she was greeted by a man with a warm smile and a bouquet of flowers.
It was the second time she'd met Miltiades Neothyton, who travelled down from his Bowen home.
The first time had been in 1959 when he saved her life in Cairo.
"It was fantastic, I was very tearful when I met him at the airport," she said.
"I was just crying and it was very beautiful. It lived up to what I expected and more; it really did."
The meeting was held in far happier circumstances this time around in an atmosphere of family and holiday-makers.
Had it not been for the actions of Mr Neothyton six decades earlier, the meeting never would've taken place.
Sixty years ago, the pair were aboard the same ship as they migrated to Australia from Cyprus.
En route, the ship docked in Cairo where Mrs Perikkentis was kidnapped by criminals.
Upon seeing her frantic mother, Mr Neothyton and a friend went searching for the young girl.
The pair found her sitting on a table with the kidnappers, at which point Mr Neothyton yelled and scared the kidnappers off.
After she was returned to her mother, the pair renewed their journey to Australia, settling in different parts of the country.
Both spoke of the incident often throughout the years until eventually in 2018 the story was heard by the same pair of ears.
The mutual friend put them in touch and the pair organised to meet in the New Year.
"He knew we disembarked in Melbourne and he said to me he always wondered about us," Mrs Perikkentis said.
"It was the same with my family in that we always wondered where he was.
"We always kept the story alive and he did too."
Finally meeting in person on Boxing Day, Helen and her husband spent 13 days with Mr Neothyton's family.
The family shared memories of their lives, fished, and cooked up more than a storm in the kitchen.
Mrs Perikkentis said the reunion had been one of the highlights of her life.
"He and his wife were down to earth and very hard working people. I couldn't have wished for a better reunion," she said.
"I just wish that my mum and dad were alive to see him.
"They would have been over the moon to have met him.
"We'll always be friends now.
"I feel as though I've known him all my life."
Mr Neothyton will host Mrs Perikkentis and her husband in Bowen again in two years.