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Celebrating the Women of Chinatown this International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day

With a bold, entrepreneurial spirit and unshakeable dedication to their community, these inspirational women have shaped the face of Chinatown as we know it today. Meet these incredible pillars of the community as they share their stories. Click to watch the full video here.

Ellen Chew – Restaurateur

“10 years ago when I arrived in Chinatown London to set up a business, I faced a lot of challenges, I didn’t know anyone in the community at all.” Against all odds, restaurateur Ellen Chow moved to London and founded one of Chinatown’s most beloved restaurants, Rasa Sayang in 2009. “Most of the businesses here are run by men so it took me a while to put myself out there and be part of the industry,” she explains.

As a consultant for one of Singapore’s biggest food court operators, Ellen’s expertise has led to an amazing array of subsequent successful foodie enterprises across the capital and beyond, including Lotus Leaf at Westfield Stratford and Noodle Oodle at Canary Wharf. And the secret of her success? “My mother is my biggest inspiration, she taught me it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can do things in life, with positivity and perseverance. International Women’s Day is important to me because it’s a day that raises awareness and importance of equality and love.”

Christine Yau MBE – Chinese Community Centre Chairman

Chinatown wouldn’t be the place it is today without Christine Yau. A woman whose determination and passion for her community has shaped it immeasurably – and won her countless awards. Arriving from Hong Kong to London in 1985 and faced with feeling like an outsider, she threw herself into integrating. “I found it difficult to get into my own community,” she explains, “so I started to get involved by becoming a volunteer at the Chinese Community Centre. Then I got to speak to people and the local community got to know me more.”

As time went by, Christine’s involvement with London’s Chinese community went stratospheric. In partnership with the Metropolitan Police she launched the Chinese Victim Support Scheme, undertaking numerous cases to help Chinese victims. To nurture up and coming culinary talent, Christine established the Chinese Master Chef Training School at Westminster College. But perhaps her most famous achievement are the legendary Chinese New Year Celebrations. “I started the first Chinese New Year in London in 2002,” explains Christine. “Now it’s the biggest CNY celebration outside Asia!”

Christine’s inspirational commitment to her community has won her armfuls of awards. For outstanding contribution to life in London, she received the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Award in Westminster and PAN London from the Mayor of London in 2003 and in 2014 received an M.B.E. at Buckingham Palace in recognition for her community work.

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