Grandma Mary to star in China reality talent show

She was a crowd favourite at last year's National Day Parade (NDP), where she rocked an electric guitar solo in front of tens of thousands.

But an even bigger stage awaits Madam Mary Ho, popularly known as Grandma Mary, who has been invited to take part in a reality talent show in China.

In preparation for Madam Ho's appearance on the Chinese Dream Show, the Zhejiang Television production team has offered to give her Mandarin lessons.

Madam Ho, 82, who is not fluent in the language, told Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Sunday that she agreed as she saw it as yet another challenge to overcome.

Growing up, she spoke mainly English and Cantonese at home, and never learnt how to read or write Chinese characters.

She said: "I have always wanted to learn Mandarin, but I was always too busy to act on it. This invitation from the show has given me a renewed determination to learn Mandarin well."

The opportunity to be part of the show came knocking a month after her NDP performance, said Madam Ho, who is the mother-in-law of former foreign minister George Yeo.

Late last year, the production team sent a language tutor to her home for six months of intensive Mandarin lessons.

"With the help of my tutor, I practised about two to four hours every day and also invented a method to help me with my pronunciation," added Madam Ho, who first learnt to play the acoustic guitar by looking at books when she was 60.

This month, she will travel to the Sanshui District in Guangdong province to begin recording the show. The 10th season of Chinese Dream Show began last Sunday.

The place also happens to be the hometown of her grandfather, Mr Ho Sum Tin, who was a renowned physician and philanthropist.

The late Mr Ho was a founding member of the Sam Sui Wui Kun Singapore, the clan association of people from Sanshui. He died in 1942.

"I am proud of my grandfather for what he has done and it has spurred me on," Madam Ho said.

"You can learn almost anything at any age. It's just in your mind.

"If you really love something, you will learn it.

"Just learn what you love and love what you do."