Wendy Choi

After handing on a successful family business, Wendy Choi has devoted the past 15 years to improving the lives of the elderly in Birmingham’s Chinese community

When Wendy Choi came to Birmingham as a child in the 1970s, the Chinese community was a very small but close-knit society. As she grew older she began working in the family food catering firm and then after being married she and her husband started their own business which has since been passed on to their sons. Over the last 15 years or so Wendy has turned her attention to behind the scenes voluntary work in the community, and in particular championing the elderly. Her interest in actively helping others began purely by chance as a result of her hobby in participating in Cantonese Opera. “I joined the local association and took part in shows and came to quickly realise just how many elderly Chinese there were in the Midlands. I decided I wanted to do all I could to give them more help and support.”

Wendy joined Birmingham Chinese Women’s Association, eventually becoming its president and being involved in many fund-raising projects. “I am especially proud of helping St Mary’s Hospice and raising money in 2005 for the South China Floods Appeal and to build the Project Hope Primary School in mainland China’s Anhui province,” she says. In 2007, Wendy was invited to join Birmingham’s Overseas Chinese Association School where she is now the deputy head and one of the school governors. “The same year, James Wong of the Chung Ying Group approached me with an idea to give something back to the community and this was the start of our Chinese charity lunches for the elderly. “Each month with help from Chung Ying and our sponsors we organise free lunches for 40 pensioners – during the traditional culture festival celebrations that can rise to between 350 and 400 elderly guests attending.”

Wendy also organises a wide range of other events for the elderly, as well as finding transports for holidays, liaising with their families and sourcing sponsors to support projects and services. “It means a great deal to me to see the elderly enjoying themselves, eating well but most importantly having a good time,” she says. “Many live by themselves but these events give them an opportunity to see and meet old acquaintances and make new friends.” Despite being fully immersed in her voluntary work, Wendy is sure to allow some ‘fun time’ for herself. “I have a good life balance,” she says. “While I spend time working on projects and handling the affairs or dealing with school matters, I do make sure that I set aside one day a week for a round of golf and catch-up with my friends.”