Family’s grief as pensioner dies after ‘assault’
Man arrested following incident in Camden Road
04 April, 2018 — By William McLennan
Ourania Lambrou was “loved by everyone she met” Picture: Georgia Panagi
RELATIVES of a great-grandmother who died after allegedly being assaulted in the street say they have been “robbed” of the beating heart of their tight-knit family.
Ourania Lambrou, who lived in Kentish Town, passed away on Tuesday night surrounded by more than a dozen members of her family.
Police believe the 80-year-old was pushed to the ground by a stranger in Camden Road, near Sandall Road on Saturday afternoon. She was taken to hospital and discharged, before being re-admitted to the Royal Free in Hampstead as her health deteriorated rapidly.
The former seamstress, who moved to London from Cyprus in the 1950s, spent her retirement tending to the garden of her home in Gaisford Street and doting on her six children, 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
For decades, until her retirement in the late-1990s, she had worked as a “master dressmaker” at clothing factories in Camden Town. Her children went on to open The Property Maintenance Shop in Kentish Town Road.
A devout Orthodox Christian, who routinely attended St Andrew’s in Kentish Town Road, she was a well-known figure in Camden’s Greek community.
Ms Lambrou in her Gaisford Street garden. Picture: Georgia Panagi
Speaking in the living room of the family home, packed with pictures of her with loved ones, Georgia Panagi, 24, said: “We called her the queen of Britain. She was so elegant. She was classy, and always dressed so smartly.”
But her class went beyond her appearance, her grandaughters said. “It was also the way she spoke. You would never hear a vile word come out of her mouth.”
Ms Panagi remembers her razor-sharp wit, which could “burn you to a crisp”.
Chloe Lambrou added: “She was so quick. She’d bounce straight back at you like a bouncing ball.”
The octogenarian had a vitality that belied her years, the family said, describing how she would refuse help with any household task.
Kaileigh Lambrou, 32, said: “We were robbed of our grandmother. She was stolen.
“She was the strongest person I met in my life and so independent. She was loved by everyone who met her.”
Another granddaughter added: “Everyone has got to pass away at some point, but it wasn’t her time.”
At the age of 17, pregnant with her second child and with her first-born son at her waist, she left her village of Kalavasos in the south of the island, boarded a boat with her husband and set sail for England.
The couple had applied for citizenship in the US and the UK, but British bureaucracy proved more efficient and, shortly after receiving their papers, they set off for a new life in London.
Eventually separating from her husband, Michael, she made the building of a strong family unit her life’s work.
“She was independent for so many years,” her granddaughter said. “Her family was her man. She didn’t need a man to make her happy.”
Pointing towards the tightly-packed back garden, which provided figs, apples and an array of other goods that went into her beloved home-cooking, Ms Panagi said: “It was just scrub grass [when she moved in]. I think it sums up her life, in a lot of ways. It started as nothing, but she makes life.
“Her whole life has been suffering and she has never asked anyone for help.”
Reflecting on her life in a vivid profile written by Ms Panagi, a photojournalist from New York, the grandmother said in November last year: “Some people call me stubborn, but I call it determination. If you have no determination, you get nowhere.
“I came to this country and I don’t speak one English word. I had no friends to teach me to go anywhere and to do anything. I never borrowed a penny from anybody and I’m very happy about that.”