Red Cross Memories: Charis Tan Soke Chin

For a long time, I have regarded Red Cross as my second love, after only my family.

My love for Red Cross has spanned more than half a century. I fondly remember serving the Singapore Red Cross from 1958 to 2012. I was a Red Cross Youth Officer from 1958 to 1982, serving as a South Zone Chairman. I recall my days as a teacher when I established the Red Cross Units in Whampoa Primary School, Farrer Primary School, Bukit Ho Swee Primary School and Chaoyang Special School. Those were some of the most enriching times of my life.

To provide avenues for youths to serve the less fortunate in our community, I initiated the Youth-In-Service Community project in 1984. I was the Deputy Director of Red Cross Youth from 1987 – 1992. When I was the Assistant Director and Zonal Chairman, I spearheaded the Youth in Service – Officers' Sharing/ Thinking Day once a year. This programme enabled officers to bond, share and learn from one another; they had meals and games together. In 1990, I was honored to receive the long service award from Mr Wee Kim Wee, late President of Singapore, at the Istana.

I was also actively involved in the ASEAN Youth and Health workshop in 1991 and Adviser to the ASEAN Youth Trainers Workshop in Indonesia in 1992. In 1993, I was the Director of Red Cross Youth. My focus was on youth-driven initiatives which saw youths attending ongoing courses on organisational skills and exchange programmes, foot-drill and outreach programmes. I am a firm believer in making our youths the leaders of tomorrow.

In recognition of my contribution, I was chosen to be the Youth Representative for the Asia Pacific region in the International Youth Conference in Geneva in 1993. I also served as a member of the Council and the Executive Committee in Singapore Red Cross. In 1996, I was awarded the outstanding voluntary service award by Singapore Red Cross for my outstanding and dedicated service to humanity. For my contribution to the Singapore Red Cross and my commitment to the Kebun Baru constituency, I was conferred the Public Service Medal by the former President of Singapore, Mr S R Nathan on National Day in 2000. In 2001, I was the recipient of the most Active Senior Citizen of the Year award for my volunteerism and continual personal development.

I contributed in the production of a recipe calendar for the delegates at the seventh Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 2007. In addition to that, I designed the uniform for the female officers.

In addition, I played an active role in helping the Singapore Red Cross raise funds and was the Chairman of the Flag Day from 1989 to 1998 and from 2000 to 2009. I garnered the support of 6,000 to 7,000 volunteers for each Flag Day. I also helped to plan and organise the Red Cross International Bazaar. I spearheaded and chaired the annual charity draw from 2002 to 2007. The fact that the charity draws collected an average of more than S$300,000 each year which helped to run the Red Cross Home for the Disabled.

While my family is my first love, Red Cross will always hold a special place in my life. I can never forget Red Cross and the experiences I had from 1958 till now. It will always remain dear to my heart. Whilst there were frustrating times, my journey with Singapore Red Cross has been challenging, exciting, meaningful, fulfilling and satisfying. I enjoyed working with the youths and adults. It has been a learning journey and a sharing one. There is always something to do to keep my mind and body active.

I am proud of the achievements of Singapore Red Cross thus far. It has a strong volunteer force and a strong management team. Over the years, as I watched the the youths at various Red Cross events, I feel a great sense of pride whenever I see them marching at each National Day Parade and doing Singapore proud. Singapore Red Cross has done well, handling and helping with the various disasters, locally and internationally.


In my lifetime, I have witnessed the Singapore Red Cross grow from strength to strength. I am very proud to be apart of an association that has made a significant contribution to society and continues to help where the need is greatest. It has been an honor and a privilege to have served.