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The Skyros Blog

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Skyros: where dreams can come true

by Skyros co-founder, Yannis Andricopoulos

Here is Yannis' welcome talk from the recent Skyros holidays celebration in London, May 2022

If back in 1979 somebody told me he had a vision, the vision of me talking to you today, 43 years after the establishment of Skyros holidays, I would have laughed. Or I might have challenged him to reopen his book - History of the Future - and tell me what, instead, was his vision for 2079. One hundred years since the establishment of Skyros would have been equally incredulous to me. 

The truth of the matter is that nobody in those days could foresee what our future had in store. We were not in anyone's picture of the future, or, who knows, if we were, nobody could remember it! And we had no Boris Johnsons among us to draw a picture unrestricted by reality. 

Yet the future, a promising one, was there – its flag was flying high over the island except that nobody could see it. The question is why.

I can think of one good reason for it.

It has to do with our ground-breaking entry into the tourist field – revolutionary, I would say, in business terms. Until then as far as I know nobody had run any sort of learning holidays. We were indeed the very first to do so, the innovative force whose ideas have since captured people’s imagination and attracted the interest of business all over the world. The media grasped, of course, its importance and the resulting publicity pushed us to the foreground. But at the beginning we couldn’t tell.

Considering, however, that The Skyros Centre - under the leadership of Dina Glouberman - had turned almost instantly into a breathtaking venture, the prospect for the future looked promising. Though alien to psychotherapy, or perhaps because of it, I was amazed to see how deeply the experience was affecting those taking the Centre’s courses.

People did unwind and took a good, deep and honest look at their lives, explored pain, fears, inhibitions and habits that were getting in the way of a more fulfilling life, and, using their emotional intelligence, re-launched their life-long journey. At the same time, they did relate to other people more openly, deeply and effectively. People they had just met became, in just a few days, their best friends. What a change!

The future, I thought, is not necessarily a continuation of the present!

And then in 1984 Atsitsa was launched. Its launch was another ground-breaking operation as it re-introduced the concept of Holistic Living that both the Judaeo-Christian culture of faith and then the capitalist culture of profit had dismissed. Inspired by the ancient Greeks, the Holistic approach rested on balance, proportion and symmetry and demanded the honouring of all our constituent parts – mind, body and spirit. Physical, moral and intellectual excellence, all described by the single word areté, were considered indivisible. 

Skyros’ holistic approach was a major breakthrough in the thinking of our times as until then only Prince Charles had used the term holism, and this only in the field of alternative medicine. And its endorsement helped a lot to ensure that Skyros had a promising future. 

By the way, I should also mention here another major achievement of Skyros: the introduction of the writing courses through the establishment of the Writers’ Lab. Its introduction, back in 1993, was again an almost entirely new venture which attracted as facilitators writers such as Hilary Mantel, Sue Townsend, Barry Unsworth, Bernice Rubens and several other Booker or Pulitzer prize winners. (See It also attracted many people who wanted to benefit from their writing experience. 

Still, what ensured the longevity and success of Skyros was mainly something else: its culture which encourages people, rather than resign, accept and conform to, instead, question, challenge and create.

With the help of Skyros’ exceptional staff including Malcolm Stern, Ari Badaines, Ken Eyerman, Silke Ziehl, Kate Daniels, Sarah Warwick, and many others, people have always been encouraged to reconnect with their essence, unearth their dormant potential and activate their creative instincts. God, Virginia Woolf remarked, is beauty and creativity.

Relative to this is the fact that the Skyros community gives people a voice, enables them to influence the day’s schedule, contributes to everybody’s welfare and, in doing so, ensures people interact with each other as if they were a family – albeit without the usual family hindrances. 

This is done not only through the courses but also through demos, the daily early morning meeting of the entire community for the exchange of news and views, the daily œkos groups in which its members voice honestly their thoughts and feelings in a confidential non critical space, the co-listening which involves the same process but between two people only, and the work groups, which are requested to perform simple tasks that help the smooth running of the community. 

The work required by all members of the group does, incidentally, abolish all social, age or gender differences, underpin the individual’s sense of responsibility towards the entire community, our polis, and strengthens everybody’s connections with everybody else. This is what the Friends of Skyros group also demonstrates.

Perhaps the Skyros ethos and its culture is what attracted to Skyros as participants people such as the comedian Jimmy Carr, the Hollywood actor Bob Wisdom, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton, the renowned American environmentalist Kirkpatrick Sale or the journalists Kate Adie and Mariella Frostrup – to mention just a few of the celebrities who have joined us. 

I shouldn’t, of course, miss one other equally important factor that helped to establish Skyros as a pillar of the alternative world: the green, beautiful, traditional and friendly Skyros island, a home from home to so many of us, whose history goes back by several millennia. 

Evidence of this one can see, among other places, in the remnants of Palamari, the early bronze age village close to Atsitsa or in the castle, the home of young Achilles, that stands above Skyros village. Odysseus did, however, persuade Achilles to join the Trojan war, winning the fame that neither time nor change can tame.

I can tell you my vision of Odysseus disembarking for this purpose in Atsitsa bay in a beautiful day of the 12th or 13th century BC.

He guided his force to hutland where the soldiers rested for a while before coming to the dining area to enjoy the dinner the neighbours had prepared for them very quickly. Helped along by some wine from their boat, they soon started singing too. 

Next morning they had a swim in Atsitsa’s cerulean waters, enjoyed their breakfast – yogurt with honey and also figs and grapes from Atsitsa's gardens – and had their demos again in the dining area in the course of which Odysseus outlined his plan for reaching the old village’s castle. Some members of his force quickly offered some useful advice before withdrawing to their oekos group. 

Happily all of them subsequently started their march to Skyros village singing a flaming song, which, I admit, I failed to recognize!

I’m sure you have all left Skyros with, perhaps not similar, but surely unforgettable memories. 

Take a look at and join us this summer.


Sun 15th May 2022 06:19 Christine Devereux said…
Hi everyone,
I still think and dream about Sykros and Atsitsa!
Even though I visited in the 80's and 90's it stays with me, gives me a warm feeling. and still influences my life.
Memories of what we can achieve by sharing and being together have kept me going, particularly during the pandemic.
It is wonderful to hear the Skyros is still providing creative inspiration and focussing on those things in life that really matter, love, kindness and connection with others. Long may it continue...
Thank you Dina and Yannis

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