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Founders of daycare centre for kids with critical illnesses jointly named ST Singaporean of the Year 2023

Updated: May 8

We are so proud of 1 of our clientele - Arc Children's Centre for winning Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2023 award!

Previously they visited our showroom in 2021 as the founders, Ms. Ronita Paul and Ms. Geraldine Lee were actively sourcing for sterilisers to better sanitise their toys, study materials and daily high-touch items especially during the outbreak of COVID which made the children more vulnerable and susceptible to diseases and other viral infections.

Their sincere care and heartfelt love for the children can be seen and felt through their actions as they wanted to ensure that the children could still continue to attend the daycare center and enjoy a normal childhood despite battling cancer and other critical illnesses even during the pandemic.

Below are our commercial ultraviolet sterilisers installed at Arc Children's Centre.

About Arc Children's Centre

Arc Children's Centre is a unique day centre that provides support for children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, and their siblings. Their mission is to help every child excel in life by providing a safe and nurturing environment for their continuing education, safety, and bonding.

Arc Children's Centre is committed to providing the best care for children with cancer or life-threatening illnesses and their siblings. Keeping children well and happy will always be at the center of Arc’s mission and goal.

For more information, please go to

Former nurse Ronita Paul (left) and volunteer coordinator Geraldine Lee were jointly named ST Singaporean of the Year 2023. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A pair of women who opened a daycare centre for children battling cancer and other critical illnesses were jointly named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2023 on March 13.

Former nurse Ronita Paul, 72, and volunteer coordinator Geraldine Lee, 66, founded Arc Children’s Centre in 2011 to offer these children emotional support and give them a chance to enjoy a normal childhood.

The centre was opened after Ms Paul met a 14-year-old boy at Assisi Hospice who was brought in for pain control while his parents worked. He asked why there was no such place catering to children, and Ms Paul promised him that she would open one.


He died months later, and she paired up with Ms Lee to keep her word.

For their dedication and service to the community, Ms Paul and Ms Lee received the Singaporean of the Year award from President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at UBS Singapore’s academy on March 13.

Ms Paul said their journey has been marked by both challenges and joy, and expressed her appreciation for the families who had entrusted the care of their children to them.

She added: "What we do at Arc is but a mere drop in the ocean.”

(From right) ST Singaporean of the Year 2023 joint winners Ronita Paul and Geraldine Lee receiving their award from President Tharman Shanmugaratnam. With them are Ms Young Jin Yee, co-head of UBS wealth management in the Asia-Pacific and country head of UBS Singapore, and ST editor Jaime Ho. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Speaking at the award ceremony, Mr Tharman said the extraordinary things that award finalists have been doing were not a sudden or dramatic spectacle.

They have each been doing something exceptional for a long while, some of them for many years, he added.

Most of us, as fellow Singaporeans, would not be able to easily make quite the same extraordinary contributions that they have, he said.

“But it is the inner motivation that drives them on, the inner light that we can each find in ourselves and bring alive in our own ways.”

Organised by The Straits Times and presented by UBS Singapore, the Singaporean of the Year award is given each year to a Singaporean individual or group that has made significant contributions to society through achievements, or by going beyond the call of duty to selflessly improve the lives of others in the community.

The award is now in its ninth year.


Past winners include Mr Anson Ng, a second-hand car dealer who has made it his life’s mission to help strangers in need, and Mr Sakthibalan Balathandautham, who donated part of his liver to a one-year-old child after he came across a plea online.

Other joint winners include swimmer Joseph Schooling and his parents in 2016 for their sports endeavour, and Covid-19 front-liners in 2020 for their personal sacrifices as the country battled the pandemic.

In 2023, Ms Lee and Ms Paul were nominated alongside five other finalists, like sprint queen Shanti Pereira, who brought glory to Singapore with her achievements in track and field, and community volunteer leader Sandy Goh, who organises programmes like free food distributions for those in need.


Ms Paul and Ms Lee were awarded a trophy and $20,000 in cash, while the other finalists received $5,000 each. The prize money was sponsored by UBS, which has supported the award since its inception.

Other sponsors included official airline partner Singapore Airlines (SIA) and global hotel partner Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

The Singaporean of the Year winners each received a five-night stay at any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ global properties, as well as a pair of SIA business-class tickets. The remaining finalists each received a three-night stay at any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ global properties and a pair of SIA economy-class tickets.

ST editor Jaime Ho said: “Today, as we honour these finalists, I hope we leave inspired by all their stories, and see the impact they’ve had in making us a better community; not just for now, but well into the future as well.”

Mr Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia-Pacific, said the award celebrates the triumph of the human spirit, and acts as a voice that amplifies the issues of today that Singaporeans have actively taken the step forward to address. 

“Our Singaporean of the Year 2023 winners – Geraldine Lee and Ronita Paul – courageously took up the challenge of founding Arc Children’s Centre in their golden years, without prior experience in the field,” he said.

“They are inspiring role models for many of us, and their story is a great example of how everyday Singaporeans can make a positive impact – regardless of age or area of expertise, as long as we are willing to take the first step.”

(Front row, from left) ST Singaporean of the Year 2023 award finalists Chng Rui Jie and Herman Sing; Ms Young Jin Yee, co-head of UBS wealth management in the Asia-Pacific and country head of UBS Singapore; award winners Geraldine Lee and Ronita Paul; President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and his wife, Ms Jane Ittogi; SPH Media Trust chairman Khaw Boon Wan; award finalists Priscilla Ong and Sandy Goh; Mr Clarence Pereira, father of award finalist Shanti Pereira; (back row, from left) Ms Saleemah Ismail, community activist and chief executive of New Life Stories; Mr Chirag Agarwal, co-founder and chief growth officer of Talk Your Heart Out; SPH Media chief executive Teo Lay Lim; ST editor Jaime Ho; editor-in-chief of SPH Media’s English/Malay/Tamil Media Group Wong Wei Kong; Mr Gan Seow Ann, executive vice chairman of Global Wealth Management UBS AG; Ms Teo Lay-Sie, UBS regional chief operating officer for Asia-Pacific and chief of staff to Office of the President UBS Asia-Pacific; Mr Siva Govindasamy, divisional vice-president of public affairs, Singapore Airlines; Mr Kwek Eik Sheng, executive director of Millennium Hotels and Resorts; and ST senior producer-presenter Hairianto Diman, at the award ceremony held at UBS Singapore on March 13. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG


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