Yiannis Pareas obituary: ‘Charming and passionate’ architect and school governor who has died of coronavirus

Yiannis Pareas, who has died of coronavirus. Picture: St Andrew the Apostle School

Yiannis Pareas, who has died of coronavirus. Picture: St Andrew the Apostle School - Credit: Archant

Although healthy and strong, West Hampstead architect Yiannis Pareas, died due to Covid-19 last week.

An architect by profession, he was also an artist, potter, sculptor and classicist who played a key role in the creation of the UK’s first maintained Greek Orthodox secondary school – St Andrew the Apostle in Barnet, where he was chair of governors until his death.

He believed passionately in the re-unification of Cyprus and the human rights of Cypriots

St Andrew would simply not exist without Yiannis’s vision and drive. He personally approached the Russell Education Trust and the Church to convince them that the Free Schools legislation could be used to open the first maintained Greek Orthodox secondary school in Britain. Yiannis led the group which, back in 2011 and 2012, fought so hard to establish the school. Many of us involved in that period felt we had been propelled along by the sheer strength of Yiannis’s Christian faith and his belief in the project.

As chair of governors, he was delighted that the school was so popular with the local community and was judged “Outstanding” by Ofsted.

Yiannis was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1949, as a child he lived 3 years of his life in Nigeria with his parents. He came to London in 1968 to study architecture and stayed, building a to build up a successful career in his field. He has a huge family and an enormous number of friends old and new in Cyprus who all remember him for his multi-faceted interests, sense of humour and smiling face. He married his wife Marina in 1988, and was a devoted husband and father.

Yiannis was a kind and considerate man with perfect manners. He charmed those around him into sharing his passions and beliefs.

Most Read

His sense of social responsibility and desire to put students’ best interests first were at the heart of all he did; Archbishop Nikitas Lioulias, who leads the Greek Orthodox church in this country, said “It was with great sadness and shock that I was informed of the untimely passing of Yiannis. This is a great loss not only for the school but the community at large.”

Yiannis leaves behind his wife Marina and his daughters Aliki, Stella and Anna-Maria.

His family and the school intend to hold a celebration of his life as soon as it is practicably possible.

Karen Lynch chairs the Russell Education Trust, Michael Vassiliou is headteacher at St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School.