A Community Champion, who was rewarded for her exceptional volunteering work last year at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall by the Mayor, Councillor Derrick Griffin, accepted a challenge by Sutton Coldfield Scouts to teach them how to say “Happy Chinese New Year” in Chinese and share Chinese culture for the Chinese New Year.

Leona Leung, who won the Good Citizen/Neighbour of the Year Award, set up a non-profit community school, United Education, for children from low income families to receive additional Maths and English support and also founded Chinese Active Citizens UK. Following the success of the first event in 2017 the Town Council wanted to reward the contribution of residents who gave their time and made a difference to their neighbours, their communities and the whole of Sutton Coldfield.

“Winning was such a delightful surprise”, said Leona “as I see myself as an everyday person. It was great to stand amongst inspiring members of our local community and to see people from all backgrounds working to make our local area positive and inspirational for future generations. I will continue to work hard for our local community”.

Leona put her pledge into action by sharing Chinese New Year with Sutton Coldfield Scouts. Chinese New Year, which fell on Tuesday 5th February, is the Year of the Pig. Leona grew up in Sutton Coldfield but her parents are originally from Hong Kong. “I am proud to be a British person from Sutton Coldfield”, Leona explained, “who happens to have a Chinese culture. Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world. It has been celebrated for centuries in China and is also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. The colourful celebrations start on the last day of the month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar and end on the 15th day of the first month with the spectacular Lantern Festival.

“Chinese New Year is a very busy time for Chinese people”, said Leona. “In addition to all of the lion dances, fire crackers and festive food that people see in Chinatown neighbourhoods in UK cities we also have big family reunions”.

However, Leona spared time out on 7th February from the celebrations to share her culture with Sutton Coldfield Scouts. “Sharing your culture makes people understand each other better”, explained Leona “and makes for a better world”.

“We wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year”, said Neil Silverton, Scout Leader at 17th Sutton Coldfield Scouts who meet at All Saints Parish Church in Belwell Lane Four Oaks. “I thought each Scout could paint their Chinese zodiac symbol and any other activities Leona could provide for our young people.”

The Chinese New Year celebrations with the Scouts was an unqualified success. Leona gave an introduction to Chinese New Year, taught the Scouts how to say and write “Happy New Year” in Chinese, made lanterns and origami and all washed down with cups of Chinese tea.

“We were really looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year” said Neil “and Leona and her team from United Education did not disappoint. Leona gave the Scouts a chance to find out about other cultures and make new friends.”

Councillor Clare Horrocks said, “In sharing cultures and history through fun interactive and educational projects such as these we can all help break down barriers between integration and discrimination. We can bridge the gap between East and West. Well done to Leona and Happy New Year to Sutton Coldfield Scouts!”

Sutton Coldfield Scouts are recruiting! If you would like to join the adventure and be part of a globally recognised brand please email Ian Henery, Assistant District Commissioner for Development (East) at ihenery@aol.com. Flexible volunteering opportunities available.