LONDON: Heidy Quah looked resplendent in her short red kebaya and batik sarong as she received her Queen’s Young Leaders medal from Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday night.
Malaysia’s sole recipient of the prestigious award was seen via live stream from Buckingham Palace, where the event was taking place — the first-ever live feed from The Royal Family Facebook, watched by more than 379,000 viewers from all over the world.
Quah, 23, received the award in recognition of her advocacy and aid work for refugees in Malaysia through her non-governmental organisation called Refuge for The Refugees (RFTR).
Five years ago, with her best friend, Andrea Prisha, they made it their mission to provide education to refugee children.
It was reported that through Facebook, they shared stories of refugee children that they were teaching and raised money for the school. Now, RFTR supports 35 schools and cares for more than 2,000 refugee children.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Awards recognise and celebrate young people like Quah, who “had taken the initiative and the lead in their communities, using their skills to transform lives”.
Handing over the medal to Quah, the British monarch was seen to engage her in a short conversation, as she did with every recipient from the various Commonwealth countries.
When the awards ceremony ended, they proceeded to have a group photograph taken with the Queen and Prince Harry.
Of the climax in her one-week trip to receive the medal, Quah wrote in her Facebook, “It’s not every day that you get to meet Her Majesty, The Queen and then sit at the same table as Prince Harry and Sir John Major for dinner. What a day! Thankful for every single person who has supported, encouraged, championed and cheered me on.”
Child rights activist Dr Hartini Zainudin, who had known Quah since she was 17, described her as a tough cookie who is not afraid to stand up and fight for a child.
During the trip, Quah and other award winners visited Downing Street, the offices of Facebook and the BBC, and met former prime minister Major, athlete Sir Mo Farah and YouTube superstar Caspar Lee.