Fethiye is full of so many interesting characters, we decided that it was about time we met a few of them. This is the third in a series of interviews with local people, living and working in Fethiye.
This week we have been chatting to Kate and Seref Topcu.
Where are you both originally from?
Kate: I am orıgınally from the Wirral but grew up ın West Essex.
Seref: Born and bred in Fethiye!
Seref – What do you remember from your childhood growing up in (Turkey)?
I grew up around Calis Beach, it was our playground. I remember when Calis was just marshland, we played in the streams and brooks, catching fish, crabs and water snakes. It was a very different place then. There were no hotels, no roads, no development. We had no fear, we played all day in the sun, there were no other people around back then.
How and when did you first meet?
Kate – We met in 1998 when I was teaching Belly Dance at Epping Forest College and Seref was taking guitar lessons. One day he popped up outside my door at class and, to cut a long story short, he played the drums while I danced and we have never been apart since.
Kate – Can you tell me a little bit about your background before moving to Fethiye?
I have been teaching Belly Dance since 1988 and took it up originally as an interesting hobby which grew into teaching. At one point I had three evening classes a week and taught regularly at the weekends. I am also an ITEC qualified Aromatherapist and Massage Therapist, although was working for Epping Forest District Council before we moved here. I have two grown up children and one grandson in the UK and Seref and I have a son together, called Eren.
You are both involved with activities and projects in the local community – can you tell me about the projects you are involved in?
Kate – We are both involved with Turkiye’yi Temiz Tut, and I run the Fethiye and Calis Creative Women’s Group and Calis Kids Club with my business partner Sharon.
How did you get involved with these organisations/ community projects?
We are both passionate environmentalists and do whatever we can to protect this beautiful place we call home. Both with Turkiye’yi Temiz Tut and on our own we regularly clean the beach and forest areas and our advocates for local wildlife. I run the Fethiye and Calis Creative Women’s Group with Sharon to provide a safe, warm and nurturing space for women to paint and dance with support and love. The Kids Club is very “Blue Peter”, we create arts and crafts from recycled materials with the kids in the community, as well as providing a summer club a couple of days a week and regular Paint and Potato nights, again for the children to paint in a warm and creative space.
Seref – For World Environment day, you built and launched a plastic bottle boat – where did the idea come from?
The idea came from Kate, she first had the idea a couple of years ago and this year I was happy to help.
What was the message behind this activity?
Kate – I read something a while ago about a plastic whale that had been built out of plastic rubbish from the sea. A few years ago, we made a plastic turtle with the Kids Club from rubbish we found on the beach so the idea grew from that. I wanted to make the boat to highlight the devastating effect of plastic pollution in the ocean.
How many bottles did you use and how long did it take?
900 bottles, both 1.5 and 0.5 litre bottles, and it took 2 months to complete.
Where did the donations come from?
The bottles were collected from Guvens restaurant, Nil Bar and Bambu Bar in Calis, as well as individual donations and what from we found on the beach. The other materials were either found in the rubbish bins or were recycled from rubbish.
Did you have any help (volunteers)?
Yes, we had help from our friends Lee Leverington, Desree and Yasemin Sarioglu and our son Eren.
What will happen to the boat now?
The boat was displayed outside FBKM for a week and is now with Fethiye Belediye awaiting its final resting place. We will let you know where she ends up!