Cameraman tales – Felix Yiaxis
In the later seventies, Felix Yiaxis, UPITN’s staff cameraman based in Cyprus, was posted to Cairo as cameraman. Previously, Osman Mahmoud Osman had been the retained cameraman who was employed on the basis of providing a set number of stories from Egypt each month. He was paid for each story. Osman had asked for more money, not having had a raise in many years. Kenneth Coyte refused and Osman stopped work.
Felix went from his base in Cairo to cover a story in Suez. He took with him Farouk Foley who had been working as a soundman in Cairo with Osman. The story in Suez was routine and unimportant and I do not remember what it was. It was probably some festival or another.
On the way back, Yiaxis was being driven in the camera car, at some speed, on the desert road when it left the highway and went off into the desert. Felix Yiaxis was injured, he was in critical condition. He was removed from the wreck by Farouk, who was only slightly injured. Farouk got help and had him taken to hospital in Cairo. Felix was suffering from serious multiple injuries.
He was treated in Cairo, but they realised that he would need specialist attention and he was flown to London where he was taken into the Royal Masonic Hospital. There he was given the best medical care available.
Incredibly, it emerged that Felix was a Governor of the Royal Masonic Hospital.
Felix spent many months in the hospital before recovering sufficiently to return to his home in Cyprus.
When the accident happened, there was a routine Management Meeting held at UPITN. It was presided over by Clarence “Dusty” Rhodes, the UPITN President.
The question of insurance for camera crews came up. I pointed out that since I joined the company I had insured every member of the crews that I had used over the previous fourteen years. I added that I would not dream of going on location without insuring the crews. It could prove quite expensive.
It emerged that our freelance crews were not insured at all. “They should look after that themselves” and our staff crews were insured for an absolute minimum.
Dusty Rhodes said “We don’t have to insure the British, they have got the N.H.S.”.
Osman was given his rise and he returned to work. Farouk became a cameramen and they worked in Cairo for UPITN for many years.
Felix never worked as a cameraman again.
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