Ringing in Chinese New Year in aid of Norwich youngsters

Riverbank Chinese restaurant owner Toni Patching and the Lord Mayor of Norwich Brenda Arthur exchang

Riverbank Chinese restaurant owner Toni Patching and the Lord Mayor of Norwich Brenda Arthur exchange gifts to mark the Chinese New Year at the fundraising charity evening.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

As the Year of the Monkey begins for the Chinese community in Norwich, one restaurant is giving back to the city by raising money for deprived children.

Riverbank Chinese Restaurant held a buffet fund raiser yesterday in aid of the Lord Mayor's charity Sistema in Norwich which provides musical instruments and orchestral experience to youngsters.

'Our aim is not only to create great musicians but to inspire youngsters to achieve their potential and feel more confident,' said Marcus Patteson, programme director with Sistema Norwich.

'Too often young people from deprived areas face a lot of challenges in their lives, which can undermine what they would otherwise achieve.

'Norwich has a sense of affluence, but when you looks at the stats, quite a lot of wards are in the most deprived 20pc nationally. We now have children we have worked with talking about going to university and becoming teachers.'

The charity currently works with around 1,000 children in Norwich schools; 480 engaging further out of school hours.

Lord Mayor Brenda Arthur said she owed the restaurant a 'huge debt of gratitude'.

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'Research has shown that playing music can improve literacy and numeracy skills, as well as confidence building in children,' she said.

'It not only helps young people but their families as a whole. This year we are raising money for more instruments so more young people can learn how to play. If people have any old instruments they no longer play, that will also go a long way.

'It is just an amazing charity not many people know about, so part of this is about raising awareness and helping to understand the importance of music in raising children's aspirations.'

Toni Poon, director at Riverbank Chinese Restaurant, added: 'We want to raise money every year while we celebrate Chinese New Year, and support some local charities.

'Our business is only here because of the community, so we have to give something back to the community to say thank you.'

To find out more about Sistems in Norwich, including how to make donations, visit www.sistemanorwich.org.uk, call 01603 760529 or email sistema@norcarts.co.uk.

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