As New Year’s Eve approaches preparations are already underway to mark Chinese New Year with the unveiling of Wales’ fourth ‘Purple Plaque’ to commemorate the work of a woman from the Chinese community in Cardiff on January 24, 2020.
Angela Kwok, a champion for the Chinese community in Cardiff, will join an illustrious group of women whose work in Wales has been recognised posthumously with a Purple Plaque.
The Purple Plaques initiative came from women AMs as part of the centenary of Women’s Suffrage, with the first recipient being the late Labour AM Val Feld with a plaque on the side of the Senedd.
Angela’s daughter, Temmy Woolston will unveil the plaque at a ceremony at 12noon at the Bamboo Garden, Cathedral Road, Cardiff to be followed by a celebratory event at Happy Gathering, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff.
Angela arrived in the UK aged 16 from Hong Kong, speaking limited English and facing vast cultural differences, however her positive attitude and tireless work made an immeasurable difference to the lives of many Chinese women living in Wales.
Marrying at 19, she and her husband established a take away business in the city. However, this meant working unsociable hours and Angela observed the effects of a restricted social life on the women in her community, with many Chinese women feeling isolated, lonely and with limited English unable to access basic services such as health.
She began accompanying the women to GP appointments and supporting with translation, eventually setting up the South Wales Chinese Women Association in the mid-1980s at Riverside Community Centre, where soon over 50 women were meeting weekly. It was a chance for them to talk and take part in activities such as cooking, sewing, English lessons, computer classes, family social events and day trips.
Unfortunately, in the late 1980s, the centre burned down, however, undeterred Angela formed a new organisation, Cardiff Chinese Community Service Association, again providing advocacy, advice and events for the growing Chinese population of Cardiff.
During her life Angela also took on a number of other voluntary responsibilities. She provided support to South Wales police with translation, became a member of the Race Equality Council, instigated the establishment of the Chinese Cemetery in Pantmawr, Cardiff and acted as a “surrogate” mother at least 15 overseas female Chinese students during the University holidays.
Sadly, Angela passed away in 2016, however, all her hard work in establishing a cohesive Chinese community and raising its profile in Cardiff is evident today as the community remains united and is inclusive in the wide diversity of multicultural Cardiff.