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Mulan Awards 2011


This Mulan awards saw its 3rd term running which was held on 19 Oct at the Shanghai Blues Restaurant this year.

The category for nominations was:

  • Community Woman of the Year
  • Female Benefactor of the Year
  • Female Young Achiever of the Year
  • Contribution to Public Life

Initiated by Chinese for Labour, The MuLan Awards is a non-political annual achievement award to recognise, honour and celebrate Chinese women for their professional, volunteer and unsung efforts at improving quality of life and being role models for the community.

Chinese for Labour believes that Chinese women do ‘hold up half the sky’, hence the MuLan Achievement Awards was inaugurated in 2009.

Chinese women play a key role in the fabric of British society in their own community as well as beyond. The Award is to celebrate the fantastic achievements and recognition of the tremendous effort of women in the Chinese Diaspora who voluntarily put themselves forward in so many worthy projects.

Until MuLan Achievement Awards were conceived, there has been no formal recognition of the achievements of Chinese women.

The objective of these awards is to raise the profile of Chinese women and the work they do either in a paid professional capacity or in voluntary roles. Their achievements and commitment to the Chinese and wider community should be recognised by these awards.

The past two years’ Award Ceremony was hosted by the Rt Hon Baroness Margaret Jay at the House of Lords by kind permission of the Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Baroness Hayman.

Chinese for Labour was proud to lead organiser of last year’s MuLan Awards, about 90 guests gathered on Wednesday, October 27 in the opulent River Room, House of Lords to congratulate the winners of the MuLan Awards 2010.

Amongst the guests were Baroness Helene Hayman, the Lord Speaker, Baroness Margaret Jay, former leader in the House of Lords.  The judging of the awards Lady Woolf, Lord Pendry, Madam Lu Xu from the Chinese Embassy, Mrs Agnes Allcock, Director General of the Hong Kong Trade & Economic Office, Mr Wing Yip, Chairman of Wing Yip PLC.

Lady Katy Blair in her welcome statement said, “I would like to say how pleased we are to gather here tonight to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the tremendous effort of women in the Chinese diaspora who put themselves forward in so many worthy projects, either as an individual or working within an organisation. Inspired by Sonny Leong of Chinese for Labour, the Award is understood from the outset it is a non-political event.”

Chair of Chinese for Labour and Chair of the Organising Executive, Sonny Leong said, “Chinese women up and down the length and breadth of theUnited Kingdomare the pillars of the community – they run and manage the hundreds of voluntary community centers and associations. With little or no help from the government or local council they provide vital and needed services to the young and elderly Chinese. These unsung MuLans are reflected on tonight’s winners, and I congratulate every one of them – they make us proud to be Chinese.”

The judging of the Awards was led admirably by Mei Sim Lai comprised of Lady Woolf, Merlene Emerson and Dr Qu Li. We thank them for their time and impartial deliberations.

The judges’ short biographies are as follows:-

Mei Sim Lai OBE DL

She was the first female partner of a leading city chartered accountancy firm and now runs her own practice. Having clearly mastered the art of time management, Mei Sim also holds a dizzying array of posts in the commercial world and is active in promoting diversity within business for both women and ethnic minorities. Mei Sim is the Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Brent and one of the Award judges last year.

Lady Marguerite Woolf

The Wife of the former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, Lady Woolf served as a lay magistrate for over 25 years and Chairman of the Richmond Family Proceedings Court. Though not a lawyer herself, she was attracted to the Bench by the prospect of doing public service. In 2003, Lady Woolf did not hide her dismay at proposals to close almost all the family courts inLondon. She argued that the plans would put battered women and children at risk. She is a trustee of The Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths. Lady Woolf was one of the judges for the Award last year.

Dr Qu Li

Dr Li did well enough in her studies inChinathat she was allowed to come toBritainin 1990 to study for her PhD atLeedsUniversity. Graduating in 1996, she dedicated her 450-page thesis on metallurgy – entitled ‘The effects of vanadium and nitrogen additions on the grain coarsening characteristics of titanium steels’ One account suggests that to pay her way through university, she started working in a local restaurant. She is now a successful entrepreneur based in theUK.

Merlene Emerson

Merlene was born inSingaporeand came toLondonin 1979 as a law student. After graduating from King’s College London, she obtained a Master of Laws degree atCambridgeUniversity. She qualified as a Solicitor and worked at a leading City law firm in the high adrenalin-fuelled world of corporate finance and banking. She is currently a Director of the Chinese Welfare Trust and the registered social landlord, Richmond Housing Partnership (serving in the New Developments and Finance Committee). She is also an active member of her local Save the Children branch.

Cherie Booth QC

A successful barrister and mother, Cherie has extensive charitable and public involvements. Her own foundation’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of women entrepreneurs in countries where they lack equal opportunities so they can start and grow their businesses and become greater contributors to their economies.

AWARDEES

COMMUNITY WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Maria Gingell

Maria has worked hard for the Chinese community inSE Londonfor over 25 years, which continued after her retirement from the caring profession.

In 1984 Maria became the first Chinese/Vietnamese Development Officer, acting as translator and link for refugees accessing their rights in the local authority. She has over the years set up various projects including the ‘Lunch club’ which has since been replicated across other local authorities. As an assessor at Lambeth College she helped students achieve their NVQ’s in Health and Social care.

In 2007 she co-founded the Orpington Chinese Association for elder Chinese, secured funding for their services and helped raise the profile of the Chinese in Bromley. Maria is also a loving wife, mother and full-time carer.

Angela Jim Kwok

Angela was the organiser and Chair of the South Wales Chinese Woman Group Organisation since 1983 and has contributed for most of her life to the South Wales Chinese Society.

She was the Secretary of the Shuen Wan Overseas Joint Village Association inUKand in 2007 successfully established the first funding of £10,000 from the Hong Kong Shuen Wan Overseas Joint Village Association. After theSichuanearthquake, she was instrumental in raising some £13,000 from the South Wales area to help the victims of the earthquake in China.

Angela has also worked to counter against racism inWalesand served as trustee on the board of Race Equality Firsts inWales. She is a Director of the South Wales Chinese Sunday School and now the President of the South Wales Chinese Woman Federation Group.

CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLIC LIFE

Yoke Koh

Originally a journalist fromMalaysiawith a commitment to redressing social injustices, Yoke won the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship to theUKin 2002. She completed her Master’s degree in Gender and the Media in the LSE, after which she worked at the Chinese Information and Advice Centre as the Women’s Worker.

She worked tirelessly for a number of years to help women who were victims of domestic violence, marital breakdown and family crisis. Despite being in this high stress environment, Yoke managed to work over and above her routine duties and by her own initiative managed to raise additional funds (of about £160,000) for the charity.

She has also pioneered a programme for Chinese children affected by domestic violence and was involved in a women’s consortium with women from Asian, Iranian, Turkish, Latin American and Afro Caribbean background.

Passionate about raising awareness on women’s and migrant issues, Yoke has organised multi-agency seminars and workshops acrossLondonand continues to champion the rights of the weak and vulnerable.

Irene Chu

Irene has worked for the Birmingham Chinese Society since 1994, first as an Employment Development officer and then as Chief executive from 1997. She has succeeded in developing the Society’s services with limited resources to provide from counselling, CV writing, ESOL training, vocational training to inter-generational programmes for the elderly and the young.

Irene has served on the boards of the Birmingham Specialist Community Health Trust, Women’s Health Group and often been recognised as the “voice” of the Chinese community. As a Board member of the West Midlands Minority Business Forum, Irene has also championed the needs of the Chinese business community, establishing effective working relationships with the local authority, a local college and the NHS.

Irene has been a great role model for Chinese women, the impact of her work on cultural life of the community has been substantial and she continues to help countless people with her dedication and passion for her work within the Chinese community.

WOMAN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Magdeleine Chia

A devoted volunteer at the Lambeth Chinese Community Association since her retirement, Magdeleine has worked tirelessly at the centre, fundraising for the association and running and arranging the lunch and leisurely services. She was elected as a member of the LCCA’s Management Committee and was Vice- Chair since 2008.

As a result of Magdeleine’s activism and fundraising efforts, the centre now owns the freehold of the premises at69 Stockwell Road. With her excellent language skills, Magdeleine has led the volunteer team in organising a variety of programmes and outings, and spends 6 days a week at the Leisurely Club, serving and looking after the elderly.

She was also largely responsible for organising the LCCA Dragon Boat race team which has taken part in the annual boat race in East London in the last few years.

FEMALE BENEFACTOR OF THE YEAR

Connie Alexander

Connie is a graduate from the College of Further Educationin Beijing Dance Academy. She came to Britain for her further education completing her MBA in financial management and fashion design.

However dance has always been her passion and she established the London Chinese Dancing School in 2008. She is also passionate about promoting the exchange in Chinese and Western culture and has pioneered a number of culture related charitable projects.

She has set up an Alexander foundation for children and adults from poorer background to benefit from dance and mandarin study. She helped to organise events and performances for China Now -ChinainLondonwith V&A charity performances and atLondon Trafalgar Square. She had also organised charity performances to raise funds for the Sichuan earthquake.

Last year she joined in activities for the 60th anniversary celebrations in London of the Chinese PRC and this year participated in the Chinese Tiger Year celebrations organised by the Chinese Embassy at Westfield Shopping centre. These are only some examples of the activities that Connie has spear headed – for promoting Chinese culture inBritain.

Connie Jay

Connie Jay has been involved in charitable work since the 1980s and was one of the founding members of the Lambeth Chinese Community Centre. She became a member of the association’s Management Committee in the 1990s and subsequently the Chair in 1999.

Her contribution to the Chinese community range from fundraising for the acquisition of the premises to working with the elderly in the community. She was also instrumental to the setting up of the weekend Mother tongue school and volunteered her time over many weekends talking to students and teachers and listening to views on running of the school.

Amongst her other interests are in singing and calligraphy and she has over the years organised London-wide activities, including writing Chinese calligraphy and telling stories about Chinese people’s lives.

FEMALE YOUNG ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR

Maxine Chan

Maxine is 22 years of age, in her 5th year of Medical study at University College, London. She is a bright student of many talents. She obtained her Grade 8 in Piano at the age of 15 and has also started giving piano lessons to partially support herself. A gifted cook, her cooking has been described as “heavenly” and to restaurant standards.

Maxine has used her medical training, music and cooking to raise funds for her volunteer work with disabled children both inUKand overseas. She has so far made a trip to Ghanain 2008 and another to Argentinain 2009 promoting various charitable causes. She continues to champion the needs of disabled children and has worked on projects to train nurses in Ghana, working with medical teams in both the UK and Ghana.

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