On Sunday 21st August 2016, Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Muirhead DBE, High Sheriff of Merseyside James Davies Esq OBE DL, and Deputy Lieutenant Colonel Martin Amlôt OBE OStJ DL accompanied by Clerk to the Lieutenancy Lieutenant Colonel Sean McEvoy presented the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to See Yep Association. The presentation was held at the See Yep Association's 110th Anniversary celebration, making it a double happiness occasion.
See Yep Association was founded in 1906, which makes this year being our 110th anniversary. We held our celebration in Tai Pan Restaurant in Hanover Street. Walter Fung has described the double happiness event as the following (edited by Wing Wong) :-
See Yep Association held a double celebration at Tai Pan Restaurant in Hanover Street, Liverpool on the afternoon of Sunday 21st August 2016. The occasion was the 110th Anniversary of the organisation, but more significantly, the presentation of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest honour that can be bestowed on voluntary groups and is the MBE equivalent awarded to voluntary organisations.
The event was attended by over 200 people; dignitaries, distinguished guests, See Yep Association members and their families and friends. The dignitaries were Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE accompanied by Mr Ronald Muirhead, High Sheriff of Merseyside James Davies Esq OBE DL accompanied by Mrs Shirley Davies, Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside Colonel Martin Amlôt OBE OStJ DL accompanied by Mrs Daphne Amlôt, Clerk to the Lieutenancy Lieutenant Colonel Sean McEvoy BEM accompanied by Mrs Anne McEvoy, Assistant Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Gary Millar, Assistant Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Wendy Simon, and Deputy Consul General Lai Bo of The People’s Republic of China. The distinguished guests included representatives of all of Liverpool’s other Chinese organisations, such as Pagoda Arts Centre, Liverpool Chinese Business Association, Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre, Hoi Yin Association, Merseyside Chinese Wellbeing, Gee Kong Tong (Chinese Freemason), Tap Mun Overseas Chinese Association, Hung Gar Kung Fu School, Wirral Chinese Community Centre and Liverpool Chinese Students and Scholars Association. In addition, representatives from Chinese organisations from other parts of the country were present e.g. Ng Yep Association from Manchester.
The Queen’s Award presentation ceremony was opened by Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead. In her address to the audience, she emphasised the importance of this award and the rigorous consideration taken by the Honours and Awards Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, to select the worthy voluntary organisations. She praised the work of the See Yep Association members and highlighted the hard work done by voluntary organisations for the benefit of the community without pay. She added that such organisations deserve recognition for their commitment and dedication. In its history stretching back 110 years, See Yep Association has helped Chinese newcomers to Britain to settle down and integrate into British society. Dame Lorna Muirhead also conveyed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s best wishes to the association. Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside Colonel Martin Amlôt’s speech gave a detailed background of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service, which is now known as The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. High Sheriff of Merseyside James Davies Esq read the citation on behalf of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside. Lord-Lieutenant Dame Lorna Muirhead presented a certificate signed by The Queen and a commemorative crystal to Chairman Mr Ken Tam and the Vice-Chair group, who received the award on behalf of See Yep Association. Chairman, Mr Ken Tam BEM BCAc responded to Dame Lorna Muirhead’s presentation by thanking the Lieutenancy of Merseyside for their presence and all members of See Yep Association for their good work, past and present.
In Mr Ken Tam's main speech, he related a short history of the organisation and explained its nature. See Yep means ‘four counties’, which is a region in Guangdong province in southern China. The distinctive dialects spoken in these four counties are very similar, resulting its unique amalgamated identity. The ‘four counties’ are Kaiping, Enping, Xinhui and Taishan. Nearly two centuries ago, overcrowding and other economic problems caused many Chinese from that region to seek a better life abroad. There are now about 2.5 million Chinese people in 70 countries who can trace their origins to the See Yep area. The association’s community spirited work includes visits to care home for the elderly and infirm people, regular cemetery visits and contributing to the Chinese New Year celebrations, to name but a few. It has worked to preserve Chinese culture and to introduce this to the wider British public. Mr Ken Tam took this opportunity to thank Ms Lynne Murphy for nominating See Yep Association for The Queen's Award. She received rapturous applause from all members, showing their appreciation. Mr Ken Tam also thanked the nomination supporters; PS Amanda Hamilton, Mrs Erica Kemp, Mr Walter Fung, and Mr Robert Tam.
Assistant Mayor Councillor Gary Millar and Deputy Consul General Lai Bo also made speeches of congratulations and praised the activities of See Yep Association. Councillor Gary Millar's speech was entertaining and combined amusing anecdotes with kind words of praise for See Yep Association.
An important part of the proceedings were commemorative photographs of the dignitaries together with the distinguished guests, and the committee members of See Yep Association. These were taken to preserve this memorable occasion for posterity. Later, the culture show performers were also photographed as a permanent record and reminder of their contribution to this wonderful event.
At an appropriate moment in the celebrations, and amid choruses of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The magnificent three-tier birthday cake celebrating 110 years, took centre stage. Colonel Martin Amlôt removed his sword from its steel scabbard and presented it to Dame Lorna Muirhead, the Deputy Consul General Lai Bo and Life Honorary Member Shu Hing Cheng, together to cut the birthday cake in grand style. After the cake cutting, See Yep Association's First Vice-Chair Mr George Tam thanked the community organisations and local businesses for their generous donation. He also thanked the association's members and helpers for their hard work for organising the celebration.
Following the formal speeches and presentation, a highly entertaining culture show was staged; most of the performers were from the Liverpool Chinese organisations. The dance costumes were colourful and representative of Chinese culture. The acts included the inevitable Lion Dance, a music interlude with Chinese musical instruments, Chinese ethnic cultural songs, fan dancing Chinese style and a spectacular Chinese Ribbon Dance.
The 12-course banquet was served during the performances. Seafood was prominent, lobster, crab and scallops and followed by Cantonese duck and vegetables.
Two, ‘streamers cannons’ ensured that there was never a dull moment and they added to the colour and festive enjoyment. The acoustics were first class and the entire proceedings were made more visible and enjoyable by the projection onto a large screen situated at the front. The Tai Pan Restaurant staff also played an essential part in the celebration by preparing and serving such a delicious banquet so efficiently.
The drawing of the raffle concluded a superbly entertaining afternoon. The prizes were donated by the Chinese community organisations and local businesses, including Tai Pan Restaurant and China Taiping Insurance. The whole proceedings were superbly managed and credit must be given to those See Yep Association members who researched, planned and made the meticulous arrangements for everything to go so smoothly. The Queen’s Award presentation ceremony was carefully planned and arranged by Lieutenant Colonel Sean McEvoy, from whom See Yep Association had taken detailed guidance to ensure accurate protocol. Special mention must be made to the two MCs, Ms Ming Wang (speaking in Cantonese) and Mr Wing Wong (speaking in English) who introduced the VIP guests and very professionally compered the entire celebration from start to finish.