TRIBUTES have been paid to Stephanie Ham Fan Wong, a community worker and teacher, who recently died from cancer at the age of 64.
Stephanie moved to Scotland from Hong Kong in 1973 and worked to help women from her home country settle here.
A well-known arts organiser, she was instrumental in turning Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year Celebration into one of the leading events in the Capital’s cultural calendar.
Born on June 16, 1948, in the Chinese city of Nanking, Stephanie left for Hong Kong with her family when she was five.
She was educated initially at Wu Kwai Sai Children’s Garden orphanage after her parents decided it would provide her and her younger sister, Yau Fun, with a good start in life.
After leaving the orphanage aged 18, she found work in a garment factory and married a few years later in 1972. The following year she came to the UK.
Determined to be independent in her new home, Stephanie threw herself into learning English at the Roundabout Centre near Leith Walk and met Chinese community worker Ezar Monahan, who became a lifelong friend.
Together, the pair established the Edinburgh Chinese Women’s Group and worked to reduce the isolation experienced by many of their compatriots.
Stephanie later set up the Edinburgh Chinese Dance Group, and as well as becoming a volunteer representative of the Capital’s Community Relation Council, she spearheaded language learning activities at the Edinburgh Chinese School, where she was head teacher for 15 years.
Among her major achievements was becoming leader of the Chinese New Year Celebration as it grew to become a major gathering which now fills flagship venues including the Usher Hall and Festival Theatre.
Family and friends said Stephanie never lost her independent spirit after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Her son, Henry Fung, 39, called his mother a “force for good” and said: “She was gone too soon, but she’d already achieved so much and had absolutely no regrets.”
Her daughter, Fiona, 36, added: “She devoted her whole life to other people and had so much positivity. She always put Henry and I first – even to the detriment of herself.”
She was also praised by Ezar Monahan, 65, who said: “She spent her life working for the community and was never afraid to confront someone when she thought they were doing wrong.”
Another close friend, Gregor Robertson, 70, said: “She was one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met – she had the energy of ten people.”
Stephanie is survived by her children, Henry and Fiona, and her one-year-old grandson, Aidan.