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In loving memory 

Best friends Vivi Iakovidou (1942-2014) and Renate Athanasiou (1940-2016) were co-founders of Animal Protection Aegina & Agistri in 2006 and its two supporting pillars. 

Vivi was APAA’s general secretary and the manager of the shelter until her death in December 2014. She was a remarkable woman: determined, extremely knowledgeable and professional, with a clear vision of short- and long-term aims for the shelter, a high sense of organisation and very high standards which served the shelter admirably. Under her meticulous management, the shelter grew from a primitive shack to a modern shelter facility. Within a few years, it acquired a new puppy wing, a neutering clinic, solar panels, a puppy playground, security cameras and was acknowledged as the best shelter in Greece. A true perfectionist, Vivi was hard-working, demanding of herself as well as of others, and strict. But behind the stern stance and intimidating dark glasses was a woman full of tenderness and humour, shy and vulnerable as a child, who would giggle like a schoolgirl in the company of old friends and whose heart would ache for every animal in need. She fought the fatal disease that hit her with outstanding courage and dignity, supported by her son and daughter and surrounded by her animals, losing her body to the disease but keeping her strength of character and her soul intact.

Renate was APAA’s treasurer and an invaluable supporter of the shelter. The work she did went far beyond the Herculean task of keeping APAA's finances shipshape. Caring for the shelter and its people as one would family, Renate contributed personally and discreetly to bridge financial gaps as they occurred. Always helping those in need, Renate would take home traumatised animals who could not survive in a shelter environment and give them the time and space they needed to heal emotionally. Her healing method was a unique blend of respect and patience, offering companionship in terms they could tolerate to these hurting creatures, which she tenderly called her "wrecked friends" and felt kinship with. 

The last two years of her life, having lost her best friend Vivi and facing increasing health problems, Renate often mentioned in her half-joking – half-serious way that "her time had come to leave", but although in physical pain and with impaired vision, she worked to her last day to deliver APAA's financial statements.  

Renate also supported animals in other parts of Greece, something we realised with awe when she apologised for not being able to support APAA even more than she already did. The visible part of Renate's generosity was only the tip of the iceberg; the full scope was to be revealed by her absence, as a negative footprint.

vivi and renate animal protection aegina agistri
vivi animal protection aegina agistri
renate animal protection aegina agistri
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