Puppet master and spinal muscular atrophy sufferer among the unsung heroes taking home 2018 Spirit of Hong Kong Awards
Inspiring individuals honoured for the ‘extraordinary’ ways they lead their lives and their richness of spirit in contributing to the community
A puppet master and a videographer helping retirees capture their final wishes are among the inspiring individuals who have won this year’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards, organised by the South China Morning Post to honour residents who make the city a better place to live.
Hong Kong’s No 2 official, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, was guest of honour at the ceremony on Friday. He was joined by awards patron David Akers-Jones, who was chief secretary from 1985 to 1987.
“Seeing these unsung heroes, I find myself so insignificant,” Cheung said. “I can hardly hold back the tears whenever I meet them and present awards to them.”
The top official earlier met some of the winners, including Josy Chow Pui-shan, who went home with the Overcoming Personal Challenge Award.
The English and linguistics student is afflicted with spinal muscular atrophy and has only minimal use of her hands. But the condition has not stopped her pursuing her dreams.
Cheung said he wanted to help those like Chow living with the rare disease.
Five individuals and two groups each took home an honour in a different category. The classes were community contribution, compassion ambassador, cultural preservation, innovating for good, overcoming personal challenge, corporate citizen, and Lion Rock entrepreneur.
The recipients were chosen by a panel, while an additional category – the People’s Choice Award – was adjudicated by Post readers voting online.
Among those honoured was Ng Kwok-hung, who leads a team of retirees helping their contemporaries express their final wishes to loved ones on video.
His team spends time capturing their subjects speaking their mind, in the hope of recording warm words.
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Ng netted the Compassion Ambassador Award, as well as the People’s Choice Award.
Anna Wu Hung-yuk, chairwoman of the judging panel, said these unsung heroes had been chosen for the “extraordinary” ways they led their lives and their richness of spirit.
“They have inspired us and helped to weave a fabric of hope in society,” she said.
Post CEO Gary Liu said the awards, now in their sixth year, recognised people whose lives and work embodied the spirit of Hong Kong – innovative, resilient and compassionate.
“They go about their work and make their impact quietly, without seeking praise or accolades. But their efforts deserve recognition, and Hong Kong is better because of them,” he said.
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Liu thanked property developer Sino Group for sponsoring the event.
The other winners were Li Yi-hsin, who has groomed generations of puppet masters, Jeff Rotmeyer, who prepares homeless people for employment and helps them find accommodation, and Samuel Hui Sing-kwong, whose team has developed a device that enables less mobile elderly people to have showers independently.
They bagged the cultural preservation, community contribution and innovating for good awards respectively.
The honours in the corporate citizen and Lion Rock entrepreneur categories went to Sky Design, whose staff volunteer to help underprivileged families with renovations, and Pei Ho Counterparts, which feeds the elderly and homeless.