A Doncaster woman has received the British Empire Medal, presented to her by Prince Andrew for services to education and disadvantaged children in China.
Corinne Richeux Hua received her medal last weekend at an investiture ceremony at the Ruijin Hotel, in Shanghai, which was attended by British Consul General in Shanghai John Edwards, some of Stepping Stones’ students, teachers, volunteers, staff, donors and board members, and Corinne’s husband.
Corinne, a former Hatfield High School student, who studied Chinese language at Cambridge University, was nominated in the Queens’ Birthday Honours List on 9 June 2018 for services to education and disadvantaged children in China. She lives in Shanghai with her husband, where she set up and now runs the Stepping Stones charity.
Stepping Stones, which was founded in 2006, is a Shanghai-based non-profit organisation with a mission to improve the education and general welfare of disadvantaged children in China. The organisation currently has hundreds of volunteers teaching English to thousands of migrant children in Shanghai and left-behind children in rural China each week. Stepping Stones also offers professional training to English teachers in Shanghai and rural China, and digital literacy and life skills training to migrant children in Jiaxing. Stepping Stones has provided eye glasses to almost migrant 4,000 children since 2008.
Corinne said, “It was a big surprise and a huge honour to be nominated for this award. However, the award should really go to all of Stepping Stones’ volunteers, donors and staff, whose combined efforts over the last 12 years have made such a huge impact on the education of tens of thousands of children.
“When I first visited some migrant schools in Shanghai in 2006 and asked the principals what help they needed, they all asked me to help them to teach English to their students.
“I already knew a lot of English speakers in Shanghai who were looking for a meaningful way to help others. Stepping Stones emerged as a neat way to bridge a need in our local community with a valuable resource.
“I’ve always been passionate about social service, volunteering, education and cultural exchange, and I derive inspiration each day from the amazing people that Stepping Stones brings together from all walks of life in Shanghai.”
English is one of the three core subjects in the Chinese school curriculum, and the one that poses most challenges to rural and migrant children. The majority of migrant children do not make it to senior high school, and only a small handful are able to make the grade to attend university. Improvement of basic education is the key to helping children from rural areas to attend senior high school and university, and thereby improve the future prospects of rural families.