Anniversaries of London Tekeyan Trust and Tekeyan Cultural Association Celebrated


From left, Vartan Ouzounian, Taline Avakian, Gregoir Chikaher, Hagop Vartivarian, Sylva Krikorian-Aharonian, Krikor Haroutunian, Nar Khatchadourian (all except Vartivarian are the trustees of the London Tekeyan Trust)

From left, Vartan Ouzounian, Taline Avakian, Gregoir Chikaher, Hagop Vartivarian, Sylva Krikorian-Aharonian, Krikor Haroutunian, Nar Khatchadourian (all except Vartivarian are the trustees of the London Tekeyan Trust)

LONDON — On May 23, at the Copthorne Tara Hotel, an official dinner reception was held to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Tekeyan Trust London (TTL) and the 40th anniversary of the London Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA).

More than 150 guests, amongst who representatives of the Armenian Church in the United Kingdom, representatives of the Armenian Embassy in London, community leaders, Tekeyan devotees from the UK, the USA, France, Switzerland, Lebanon, Cyprus, Armenia and other corners of the world, gathered to share common happiness, to enjoy a memorable evening of Armenian culture and to pay tribute to the great individuals and the founders of the TCA and the TTL.

Master of Ceremonies Tamar Minassian opened the function with congratulatory remarks and invited Rev. Shenork Baghdassarian to offer the invocation.

Vartan Ouzounian, Honorary Secretary of the Tekeyan Trust London and Chairman of the Tekeyan Centre Fund Armenia (TCF), continued the official ceremony. He extended heartfelt congratulations to all present on the two great occasions and underscored the importance of the TTL in community life. He stated that its main mission was to preserve Armenian national identity, religion, language and culture through various projects and community life activities. Ouzounian recalled vividly a few of the major cultural events organized by the TCA and the TTL: in 1985, 5 performances of the Armenian State Folk Song & Dance Ensemble at the world renowned Royal Albert Hall in London, at the Dome in Brighton and at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester; in 1989, on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Armenia, under the auspices of the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to help children in Armenia, 21 performances of the Armenian State Dance Company all across the UK and Ireland with more than 45,000 attendees; performances of the Armenian State Choir; and staging sundry art exhibitions and concerts.

Ouzounian outlined the achievements of the TTL, mainly the Institute of Armenian Music, Arax Folk Dance Group, Erebouni biweekly, Komitas Choir and the Tekeyan Centre in Armenia and expressed his appreciation to several long-term volunteers: Dr. Antranig Zoulikian, editor for many years of Erebouni weekly, and Yertchanik Martikian, teacher and supervisor of the Arax Dance group.  He dwelled upon the activity of the Tekeyan Centre Fund which sponsors five Tekeyan Schools in Armenia and Karabagh. Ouzounian concluded his speech by expressing the deepest gratitude to all Tekeyan benefactors and supporters who greatly contributed to the establishment and further development of the TCA, TTL and TCF.

Sylva Krikorian-Aharonian, Chair of the London Tekeyan Trust, was the next speaker. She briefly reviewed the history of the two London Tekeyan establishments that were founded to prevent the assimilation of Armenians. In 1975, when the London TCA was founded, the first committee members were Davit Messerlian, Manuel Keoshgerian, Norayr Kherlopian, Jirair Kevorkian, Alan Kutchukian and Sylva Krikorian. A bit later Maida Gudenian, Annie Bardakjian, Shake Chakmakdjian, Silva Shamassian,Vartan Ouzounian and Garo Arevian joined the committee. In 1979, the Tekeyan Trust was founded by Garo Krikorian, Vartan Ouzounian, Garabed Arevian, Takvor Barzankian. For four decades the London Tekeyan organizations have been supporting each other and going side by side realizing numerous projects to promote Armenian cultural heritage.

As Krikorian-Aharonian stated, the pride of the TTL is the symbol of unity of Armenians all over the world — the Tekeyan Centre in Yerevan, the construction of which became a reality due to the efforts of Ouzounian. Apart from being a fund, Tekeyan Centre is a venue for exhibitions, conferences and cultural events.

At the end of her speech, Krikorian-Aharonian extended warm congratulations on the occasion of the 35th and 40th anniversaries of the TTL and the TCA of London, and highly praised and thanked all the Tekeyan devotees of past and present for their efforts and services to the Armenian people. As well as commemorating the 1.5 million massacred in 1915, she stated that the Trust has to go on with its mission of preserving the Armenian language, church, history and culture to prove that Armenians will never be annihilated.

The celebration continued with a dinner reception and a film show on TCA and TTL activities, including the official opening of the Tekeyan Centre in Yerevan.

On behalf of the TCA London, Chairman Violetta Barzankian-Kaydan presented her congratulatory remarks and wished all the best for the organizations in future endeavors. She spoke about the role and the importance of the Tekeyan organizations which are among the oldest cultural organizations established within the Armenian community of the UK. All the efforts of the TCA new committee are directed towards one aim, i.e. continuing the cultural ideas and traditions of the TCA.

Armen Liloyan, the representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the UK and Northern Ireland, delivered the congratulatory message of the ambassador, Dr. Armen Sarkissian, who was unable to be present but passed on his good wishes and appreciation to the TCA and the TTL for longstanding service to the Armenian community. In his speech, Liloyan noted that the anniversaries of the two organizations named after the great Armenian poet coincided with the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, a survivor of which was Vahan Tekeyan himself. Despite the national tragedy, Tekeyan managed to go on and, in his poetry, to express belief in a bright future, freedom and heroism. And this very ideology was espoused by TCA and the TTL which are faithful to their roots and their culture. The organizations serve as a bridge between the UK Armenians and the Motherland.

Then a congratulatory address issued by the Republic of Armenia’s Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan was read. The minister extended her deepest congratulations to the TCA and TTL and highly praised the activities of the Tekeyan organizations that serve the Armenian nation by establishing cultural, educational, arts, publishing centers and in this way create not only history for the Tekeyan structure but also for the whole nation. Thanks to Tekeyan projects, the younger generation is educated with strong patriotism, and the Armenian national, cultural and spiritual heritage is preserved, promoted and spread abroad. Hakobyan expressed her sincere appreciation to the Tekeyan Trust and the Tekeyan Cultural Association for their long outstanding services and devotion to the Armenian nation as well as for furthering relations between Armenia and the Diaspora.

Thereafter, at Copthorne Tara Hotel, a cultural program followed which featured impressive performances by the well known Armenian actress Jenia Nersessian (“Khorhourt Vartanants” by Vahan Tekeyan, and pieces from “Adamnapoujn Arevelyan” by Hagop Baronian), Akhtamar Armenian Folk Dance Group, and soprano Anais Heghoian accompanied by pianist Kristina Arakelyan (“Groung” by Komitas). Next, Anush Geghamian delivered a poetic recitation of Baruir Sevag’s “Menq kitch enq, sagayn mez Hay en asoum,” and Rozette Ouzounian recited the poem “Hashvehartar” by Vahan Tekeyan. The celebration function concluded with a raffle draw announcement.