Shanice Ng, 13, was preparing for her PSLE in June last year when her father was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. It took a huge toll on her family as her dad Ng Ming Wei, 45, a hawker, was the sole breadwinner.
The family of six lives in a rented two-room flat in Woodlands, and has been getting help from social workers since June last year.
It has been a trying period for Shanice and her three siblings, aged 10 to 19. Shanice spends most of her time in school or at the hospital.
"I was not able to get enough sleep as my father often woke up at 1am or 2am and needed help. I woke up at 5am to go to school and found it hard to pay attention in class," she said.
Still, she obtained a T-score of 234 for her PSLE last year. She is now in Christ Church Secondary School.
She said she is able to keep her chin up because of the help she and her family got from The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.
"Our basic aim is to help students in need meet their daily expenses, so that they can focus on their studies," said the fund's chairman, Mr Warren Fernandez, who is also Editor of The Straits Times. "So, we are delighted when they do well ."
Shanice now receives $95 monthly from the fund and spends it on meals, transport and school supplies.
Her hard work was recognised when she received a cash prize of $800 sponsored by HSBC bank at a ceremony yesterday. Nine other beneficiaries of the fund were also rewarded for their high PSLE scores.
The cash prizes were raised by a group of HSBC employees, who collected $5 bills from their colleagues. The total amount came to $30,810.
The $5 bill is symbolic as the 162-year-old Tembusu tree featured on the back of the note was dedicated to HSBC in 2004 by the National Parks Board for the bank's commitment to the environment.
"The 12 of us covered every office of HSBC in Singapore, where we collected $5 from each of our colleagues," said Mr Melvyn Leong, 38, vice-president of retail banking and wealth management.
HSBC and Orchestra of the Music Makers also presented $100,000 to the ST School Pocket Money Fund.
Shanice's mother Rosmary, who goes by one name, said she was grateful for the help . "It has allowed Shanice to maximise her potential in school," she said in Mandarin.
Correction note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that HSBC presented $100,000 to the ST School Pocket Money Fund instead of HSBC and Orchestra of the Music Makers. We are sorry for the error.