MEDIA: South China Morning Post
PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 11:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 3:32am
(Front, left to right) Carmen Yau and Willy Law; (back, left to right) Robin Hu, CEO of SCMP Group; Lee Ming-sun; Elsa Tse Ngar-yee; Elana Ho; Chan Kit-ying; Tsang Tsz-kwan; Chief Secretary Carrie Lam; Jenny Law Chun-heung; Pastor Lee Mo-fan; Jill Robinson; Kan Yiu-kwong; and Dr David Pang Ding-jung, chairman of SCMP Group.Photo: Felix Wong
They are 11 ordinary people who lead extraordinary lives. People who achieve against all the odds and set an example for others.
Last night they were unveiled as the living embodiment of the spirit that makes Hong Kong a great city.
The Spirit of Hong Kong Awards - launched by the South China Morning Postas part of its Celebrating Hong Kong initiative - were the culmination of seven months of published stories about inspiring individuals.
Ten winners were selected by a nine-member judging panel chaired by Sir David Akers-Jones.
There was also a Hong Kong People's Choice Award, chosen by members of the public through an online vote. This went to Jill Robinson for her efforts to stop the bear-bile industry.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who officiated at the awards ceremony, said she personally knew one of the winners - Willy Law Wai-cheung, an inspiration to people with physical disabilities - and was glad to see his work gaining recognition.
The winners were selected from a total of 30 unsung heroes who strive to build a better Hong Kong through activities ranging from giving free haircuts to hospital patients, to fixing crumbling schools in rural China.
"Our judging criteria aimed at bringing recognition to those unsung heroes who have been working hard to make our city a better place to live," said one of the judges, Professor Nelson Chow of the department of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong.
One winner was Kan Yiu-kwong, founder of the Grace Charity Foundation. It has funded the building of 1,100 schools and 250 clinics in Yunnan and Guizhou . "Philanthropy has always been one of the defining qualities of Hong Kong people without which our work would never be possible."
Another award winner, Tsang Tsz-kwan, who achieved top grades in her exam despite having to read Braille with her lips after losing her eyesight and sensitivity in her fingers in early childhood, said the Hong Kong spirit to her meant facing difficulties with optimism.
"What makes Hong Kong a great place is that we never leave those who need help behind while pursuing our own dreams."
The winners each received a trophy and HK$10,000. A total of HK$750,000 raised during the campaign will go to the St James' Settlement, the Society for Community Organisation and the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals.
Chan Kit-ying, director of services at Mother's Choice
Elana Ho, a founder of Starfish Charitable Foundation, which offers free operations for mainland children with various ailments
Kan Yiu-kwong, founder of the Grace Charity Foundation which has built schools in rural China
Jenny Law Chun-heung, who has provided free monthly haircuts for 27 years to patients of Grantham Hospital
Willy Law Wai-cheung, a wheelchair-bound advocate of policies for the disabled
Lee Ming-sun, a survivor of the Lamma ferry disaster who saved two strangers
Pastor Lee Mo-fan, who has spent 50 years taking care of homeless elderly people
Jill Robinson, an activist against the trade in bear bile
Tsang Tsz-kwan, a blind student with no sensitivity in her fingertips who scored top grades in exams by reading Braille with her lips
Elsa Tse Ngar-yee, former drug addict who now rescues girls
Carmen Yau, a spinal muscular atrophy sufferer who counsels fellow "frozen people"
The Spirit of Hong Kong Official Website