Coffee Cup Conversations
Most of the people who have moved out to North Cyprus from abroad have chosen this country because they “fell in love with it.” The climate, the beautiful countryside and the warm hospitality of the Turkish Cypriots have all charmed the thousands of visitors that come to the island each year. After settling down many expats find themselves wanting to give back to the community: whilst for many it’s helping a local charity or organisation – for others it’s sharing all that is good about the TRNC.
Chris Elliott and Margaret Sheard are two people who have come together to form a dynamic writing team that now works under the banner of cyprusscene.com. Neither have a background in writing or even journalism, but today they have built up a very comprehensive and easy to follow web page all about North Cyprus. Speaking to Chris about his introduction to writing, he tells me that a few years ago he had an accident which left him bed-ridden for quite a while. Whilst recuperating he saw a competition in a newspaper asking for special Valentine messages. He penned his thoughts, sent in his entry and won! This spurred him on and he eventually found himself writing for the weekly Cyprus Observer newspaper. Margaret also worked for the paper and both of them enjoyed their investigative pastime.
It wasn’t long before Chris realised that the future of writing lied somewhere in cyberspace. Most people now read online newspapers and get their news from the Internet. Both Chris and Margaret wondered how many people actually bought the newspaper they wrote for, and more importantly how many people actually read their articles? After a little bit of research and a lot of effort in setting up the page, Chris launched cyprusscene.com back in 2011. The website carries regularly updated information about the people, places and events of North Cyprus.
When Chris and Margaret first started their exciting venture they would often be running around everywhere, attending various social, cultural and charity events, gathering as much news as possible. Margaret would often do most of the writing and editing, whilst Chris would publish all the material online. Three years down the line they have extra support from other contributors, including Ralph Kratzer from The Foreign Residents and Ismail Veli, an occasional columnist sending his work from the UK. Chris and Margaret are often sent many press releases and news bulletins from various groups and organisations; and a large proportion of the articles are accompanied by numerous photographs (sometimes in the form of a slide show), and some even have links to audio and video clips.
Chris tells me that he loves sharing the news he collects with as many people as possible. “I want everyone to know what’s going on in North Cyprus,” he states. Margaret, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoys researching human interest stories. She explains, “Due to my work I have found myself in a position to help ex servicemen, who served on the island many years ago, find their long lost friends.” The advantage of being online is that anyone from around the world can follow what’s going on in Cyprus. Conversely Chris can see how many people are hitting their site and from where in the world they are from. It’s all very encouraging.
Ironically Chris and Margaret have come a full circle in their literary careers. Joining forces with the newly relaunched Cyprus Observer newspaper, Chris has agreed to share some of his articles from cyprusscene.com with the paper. The newspaper hits the supermarket shelves every Saturday. Either online, or printed on paper, the articles shared are of interest to anyone who wants to follow what’s happening on the Island of love.