Background of the Sedan Chair Charities Fund
In 1975 Nurse Joyce Smith created a competitive sedan chair race for charity as a means to showcase the location and facilities of the Matilda International Hospital. From this the Sedan Chair Charities Fund was established.
Our aim is to raise money for needy charities in Hong Kong mainly through our annual October Sedan Chair Race and Bazaar, supported by over 45 running teams and 2,000 visitors. We also organise various fund-raising activities to raise more money. The fund raised goes to support charitable organisations that are lesser known and have very limited resources to do fundraising themselves – none go to the Matilda International Hospital.
The Annual Event
Event day itself is exciting and fun – teams set off at intervals and finish to a crowd of cheering and admiration. Live entertainment, games, fantastic bargains, and a wide array of food and drinks make for an enjoyable Bazaar for children and adults. All proceeds go towards our fundraising target for the charities. The money raised from this annual event benefits around 30 local charities.
In the Beginning
Sedan chairs and "Matilda" are as much a part of Hong Kong's heritage as Victoria Harbour and sailing clippers. The Matilda International Hospital, as it is known today, was founded by successful Hong Kong businessman and philanthropist Granville Sharp. When he died in August 1899, his will stipulated that after family legacies, the residue of his estate was to be used "...to build and maintain a hospital to the glory of God and the good of man in loving memory of my sainted wife, Matilda Lincoln, the same to be called Matilda Hospital."
Matilda and Granville Sharp had arrived in Hong Kong by sea on Christmas Day 1858 to start their married life together. In those early pioneering days Hong Kong's steep terrain and narrow lanes were bustling with pedestrians and porters carrying goods on poles and passengers in sedan chairs. The sight of these sedan chairs was one of Matilda's earliest impressions of Hong Kong.
The First Sedan Chair Race
Sister Smith had undertaken research into the history of the Hospital. The concept of sedan chairs was chosen because they and rickshaws were the only means of transportation to the Hospital when it first opened in 1907. Thus the First Sedan Chair Race was inaugurated in 1975 with four entrants running for "The Matilda Hospital Shield". In 2014, 40 years later, 48 teams participated from a wide cross section of Hong Kong's schools, clubs, associations and corporations competing for numerous trophies and raising funds for charity.
From the outset, the Sedan Chair Race was not to raise money for the hospital but to attract people to "Matilda" to see for themselves its facilities and magnificent location. This founding mission continues today as all the money raised from the Race is donated to local Hong Kong charities. The Sedan Chair Charities Fund Committee work hard to ensure this event continues as part of Hong Kong sporting calendar and heritage.
To date, the Sedan Chair Race has raised over $68 million and has helped 134 local charities who are committed to aiding our community members in need. Sedan Chair Charities Fund is continuing Granville Sharp's legacy of Matilda to support Hong Kong's needy.