World / Europe

Female achievers celebrated at Mulan Awards 2014

By Cecily Liu ( Updated: 2014-10-30 23:38

Great achievements of females in the UK's Chinese community were celebrated on Wednesday evening at the Mulan Awards Dinner 2014 in London.

Attended by almost 200 guests, it was the first awards ceremony held since the charity Mulan Foundation Network was launched at the House of Lords in October 2013.

The charity, which was registered in May 2012, is named after the Chinese legendary heroine Hua Mulan who masqueraded as a man to save her family honor and her country.

"Mulan was a true role model. The Mulan awards is all about building up a network of Chinese women role models to help each other and using their skills, talents and expertise to contribute and make a difference to the wider community," said Mei Sim Lai, chair of Mulan Foundation Network.

Lai, who is also the founder and principal of the accountancy firm LaiPeters & Co, is one such exceptional female herself.

Lai arrived in London in 1970 after finishing A-levels in Kuala Lumpur. Her hard work over the years has made her a successful accountant and her extensive contribution to charities and non-profit organizations has made her a respected figure in the wider community.

The 2014 awards covered eight categories, celebrating the winners' contributions to education, arts and culture, science and technology, business and enterprise, charitable causes and philanthropy, public service and community, contribution at an international level, and also, young achiever of the year.

The Young Achiever of the Year award is won by Shang Yaoqian, a talented ballet dancer who won a full scholarship to The Royal Ballet in London, graduating with distinction and won the Ninette de Valois Award for the most outstanding graduate in 2013.

The Contribution to Education award is won by Chang Xiangqun, a research associate at SOAS, University of London, who is a leading scholar working on the study of China and the Chinese in comparative studies.

The Contribution to Arts and Culture award is won by Betty Yao, a curator famous for organizing the Wellcome Library exhibition ‘Through the Lens of John Thompson 1968-1872', and Xiao Di, a renowned pianist.

The winner of the Contribution to Science and Technology award is Sharon Heng, a specialty registrar at Addenbrookes Eye Unit, Cambridge University Hospital. In additional to her research achievements, Heng has also founded the London-based charity Chan Heng Eye Foundation, providing rehabilitation support to visually impaired Chinese.

The winner of the Contribution to Business and Enterprise award is Carol Hui, general counsel for Heathrow Airport Holdings. Meanwhile, commendation for the Contribution to Business and Enterprise award is won by Teresa Li, an entrepreneur who founded The Jobwall, an online job board for job seekers and employers.

The Contribution to Charitable Causes and Philanthropy award is won by Viola Wong, managing director of Confiserie Benji Limited, a business in the food industry. Wong and her husband established the charity Benji's Center, which provides speech therapy to children with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Contribution to Public Service and Community award is won by Catherine Zeng, head of financial services, trade and investment at HM Treasury. Winning commendation for the category is Min Rose, ‎senior executive of Asia Business Centre at the University of Nottingham.

Outstanding Contribution at the International Level award is won by Jiang Bing, deputy director of Great Britain China Center, a not-for-profit organization sponsored by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Winning commendation for the category is Huilin Proctor, head of China Desk at DLA Piper UK LLP, a law firm.

Prior to the establishment of Mulan Foundation Network, the Mulan Awards ran for three years from 2009 to 2011, with funding and other support from Chinese for Labour, a group closely associated to the UK's Labour Party.

The award was established by Sonny Leong, chair of Chinese for Labour, and Katy Blair, co-founder of the Islington Chinese Association, who is also one of the founders of Chinese for Labour.

Hoping to assure the public that the award is non-political and open to all, Leong and Blair subsequently decided to establish the Mulan Foundation Network as a registered charity and invited Lai to be the chair.

After the charity's establishment, more investment was put into promoting the awards on a national scale and inviting a growing number of nominations from cities outside London. As well, additional categories were added to the awards to make it more comprehensive and inclusive, Leong said.

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