By RICHARD BATSON
Saturday, February 23, 2013
He is best-known for singing along to the sounds of a bazouki at his family’s Greek restaurant, and as a colourful celebrity chef at the local seafood festival.
But Andreas Yiaismi has added an extra course to his menu of life - as Cromer’s new district councillor.
The 52-year-old was elected in a landslide victory for the Liberal Democrats, which saw him poll 558 votes, more than double that of his nearest rival, Labour’s Jen Hamilton-Emery, who had 240.
In a high 40pc turnout, UKIP’s David Ramsbotham was third with 218. The seat was previously held by Keith Johnson, who was leader of the Conservative-led North Norfolk District until his death in a shotgun incident, but the Tory candidate, experienced town councillor Tony Nash, came bottom of the pile with 181.
Mr Yiasimi took the seat at the second time of asking, having trailed by 100 votes at the 2011 elections - his first attempt at entering the world of local politics after a lifetime devoted to the restaurant, music, and freelance photography.
“I have always been interested in politics, but, coming from a humble background, I did not think i was qualified to take part,” he said.
The Greek-Cypriot family hails from the east end of London, growing up in the Aldgate area, where his father was a quaified tailor and part time chef - whose careers switched around and took them into the catering world.
They had a spell at Great Yarmouth in the 1960s when his father was involved in a seafront restaurant. They returned to the capital before heading to East Runton 33 years ago to run the Constantia Cottage, where he waits, cooks, and entertains with traditional Greek songs alongside brother Yaz.
As part of the Constantia Brothers group they have performed and recorded music, some of which is used in film scores.
“We grew up with music all around us in London - street buskers, pianos in the pubs - and my grandfather, who was shepherd in the Troodos mountains in Cyprus made his own flutes to play.
The family group were given good advice early on when record producer Bob Barrett dined at the restaurant and provided some lengthy feedback on their music which help them improve, Andreas remembered.
He wrote a song they hoped would be a contender for Cyprus’s entry to the Eurovision song contest until it was ruled out through his lack of a local passport, but the group has also played at the Tower ballroom in Blackpool - and even found national TV fame providing a plate-smashing finale to the Barrymore Show.
In recent years Mr Yiasimi has been involved with Cromer carnival and the crab and lobster festival - and is a regular sight at local events taking photographs, wearing his trademark hat.
He did three years training in photography and dramatic arts at Loughton College as a teenager, but only put it to use to publicise the family’s music - as well as the work of other performers as publicist.
In his new role as councillor Mr Yiasimi said he was keen to help the elderly and the young, and look into the issues raised on the doorstep during campaigning, such as dog mess and permit parking.
“I believe in looking after the elderly and learning from them, and providing facilities for the young as they are the future,” he said.
“I will try my best for the community as I have done for the past 30 years - and seek to be amicable across the political spectrum.”