Good Samaritan Noriza A. Mansor was named the first Straits Times Singaporean of the Year yesterday.
Madam Noriza, 50, beat nine other contenders - including philanthropists, athletes and environmentalists - to the inaugural title.
The award, sponsored by the bank UBS Singapore, recognises Singaporeans whose extraordinary acts of goodwill, ingenuity or perseverance improved their community and the lives of others last year.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented a stunned Madam Noriza with the Singaporean of the Year trophy during a ceremony at the UBS Business University. She also won a $20,000 cash prize.
Madam Noriza, who works as a sales promoter, made headlines in October 2014 when she went to help the elderly Mr Tan Soy Yong. He had soiled himself while buying groceries with his wife, who uses a wheelchair, at a supermarket.
Others flinched from the stench, but Madam Noriza knelt down to wipe the mess off his legs and bought him new shorts. Her acts even moved one bystander to tears.
The judges for the award noted how she had not been deterred by the barriers of age, gender, race or language to step forward to help a stranger in need.
Since then, she has been regularly spending her days off visiting Mr Tan and his wife, Madam Lee Bee Yian, both 76, even after they were hospitalised and moved into nursing homes.
The single mother of five hopes her win will inspire others to help those in need. "Please help these people, as maybe they don't know how to speak up. Please help them whether they are old or poor or handicapped. Don't neglect them."
Her win was decided after a public vote and deliberation by a 15-judge panel, including Straits Times editors and writers, as well as figures such as youth leader David Hoe, social entrepreneur and activist Saleemah Ismail and restaurateur Willin Low.
The other nominees each received $5,000 from sponsor UBS.
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