Friends reunited: school pals meet again after 40 years

Inseparable friends at Montem Primary School meet again

Monday, 4th February 2019 — By Emily Finch

Sonya Foxsmith Kyriaki Sofocleous

WHEN Kyri lost a letter containing her best friend’s new home address she started a search that would span 40 years and cross borders.

Sonya Foxsmith and Kyriaki Sofocleous, also known as Kyri, were inseparable at Montem Primary School in Finsbury Park before Kyri’s family moved back to Cyprus in 1979 when she was eight. They met for the first time in decades last week.

“I’ve been trying to find Sonya for years,”said Kyri, while sipping tea and chatting about their school days in Sonya’s kitchen in Crouch Hill on Wednesday afternoon.

“We lost touch after I moved to Cyprus. I was forced to settle to the idea that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots are not supposed to live as friends.”

Kyri’s family settled in the Greek Cypriot side of Cyprus in the south while Sonya’s family are of Turkish Cypriot heritage.

The country became divided following a coup in 1974 and a hard border still remains between the north and the south. The two girls became separated after Sonya’s family moved house to another part of Islington and Kyri lost her new address.

“Sonya doesn’t have social media so it was difficult to find her. But her husband wrote an obituary for her father which I found online when I searched her name and I knew it was her from the picture. I showed my mum and she recognised Sonya’s mum too. They used to be friends and they also reunited this week,” said Kyri.

Kyri in green and Sonya in red during school years

Sonya added: “We had so much fun at school and we were always together. I thought it was so surreal when I looked in her eyes after 40 years, we were back there at school. It doesn’t matter how the clothes change. We’re still the same and we’ll never lose each other again.”
The two women also noticed how their lives have had some “parallels”.

“We both didn’t go down an educational route and go to university. We both didn’t decide what we were going to do with our lives until later, but both made our way,” said Sonya.

Kyri works as a graphic designer in Cyprus while Sonya is a criminal lawyer.
“I would love to live in Cyprus as it was before, with Turkish and Greek Cypriots side by side. I don’t believe a country is its land or houses but its people. I don’t believe in division,” said Kyri.

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