The author of the enduringly popular Back of Beyond trilogy and long term resident of Cyprus, Sheila Hawkins, has died.
Her family and friends on Monday afternoon attended Hawkins’ funeral at Neo Chorio church in Paphos. The UK-born author had been ill for some time and died at the Friends Hospice on Sunday.
According to her Amazon.co.uk author’s profile, Hawkins was born in Torquay and along with her brother “spent an idyllic childhood in this most beautiful of counties” as her father, a detective in the Devon Constabulary rose through the ranks.
She chose to follow a sporting career, opting for her first love, swimming, which she taught in schools and sports centres.
Marriage to Harry Hawkins—the gifted artist who went on to illustrate her books on Cyprus—and who was then a young Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force, followed and the couple had two children, Karen and Jeremy.
The family first came to Cyprus in 1971 when Harry was posted to RAF Episkopi Near East Command, and Hawkins was appointed swimming instructor to the British Schools for Service children in Limassol.
“Three happy years of sunlit days and moonlit nights followed, until the summer of 1974, when the coup d’état, culminating in the Turkish invasion, brought tragedy and chaos to the island,” the profile notes.
Back in the UK, Hawkins continued to teach swimming and PE until 1980, “when fortune smiled and Harry was posted to Cyprus once again, this time as Senior Education and Training Officer at RAF Akrotiri”.
Three more happy years followed, and it was during this tour of duty that they purchased the land at Neo Chorio, on the edge of the Akamas wilderness and where they would later build their dream home.
The couple found it difficult to readjust to life in the UK and within a year, Harry resigned his commission and they returned to Cyprus “to set up home on the wild and beautiful piece of land at Neo Chorio”.
Hawkins began to write about the things she saw around her in the still unspoilt area while at the same time recounting the family’s experiences as they struggled with the language and completely different way of life in a remote Cypriot village.
A member of the Society of Authors, Hawkins managed, through her books to convey a side of Cyprus few were able to experience.
The Back of Beyond trilogy, incorporating ‘The Back of Beyond,’ ‘Beyond Our Dreams’ and ‘Beyond Compare’ remain highly popular accounts of a Cyprus that is fast disappearing.
Hawkins, along with her husband, was also a valued member of the community and the couple has become known for their work with St Paul’s Church in Nicosia and for charity.