50 star trainers win PA awards for community efforts

PA trainers (from left) Tony Yau, Maddy Lim and Yahaya Hamid received awards at the PA Stars Trainer Awards last night.
PA trainers (from left) Tony Yau, Maddy Lim and Yahaya Hamid received awards at the PA Stars Trainer Awards last night.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Fifty People's Association (PA) trainers were given trophies recognising their contributions to the community last night.

Retired businessman Tony Yau, 62, who teaches gardening, took the platinum award, with 58-year-old Malay language trainer Yahaya Hamid taking gold and silver going to entrepreneur Maddy Lim, 38, who developed a dance and fitness regime called "KpopX Fitness".

The fifth PA Stars Trainer Awards event was held at the association's headquarters at 9 King George's Avenue.

PA trainers conduct courses in their own fields of specialisation for residents at community clubs and residents' committee centres.

Mr Yahaya, who has conducted classes since 2004, was lauded for his efforts in sharing Malay culture and history with his students.

He even started a WhatsApp chat group to communicate in the language outside the classroom. "I believe that I'm contributing, on some level, to racial harmony," he said.

Mr Yau said he equips students with the skills to grow their own Chinese herbs, such as the cat's whiskers plant which can help to lower blood pressure. "Gardening is a form of therapy in itself," he said. "It improves your overall health as there is physical activity involved, and it also builds patience."

The PA Trainers' Night was officiated by Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, who said that the courses have "evolved to meet the changing needs and interests" of Singaporeans.

The PA was formed on July 1 1960. Shortly after, it launched skills-based courses, such as radio repair and dressmaking, to help its members find work.

By the 1970s, it started to include more lifestyle programmes, such as cooking classes, which have continued to the present day.

Some 2,000 courses spread across 25,000 classes are conducted at 107 community clubs and some residents' committee centres. They cater to about 800,000 people every year.

Mr Teo said: "PA trainers play a very integral part. That's why we celebrate PA trainers every single year. This year, as we celebrate our 50th year of independence, we want to let them know that they have contributed a big part to building and bonding our community together."

PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng added that courses will continue to be affordable and accessible to people from "all walks of life".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline '50 star trainers win PA awards for community efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe