Obituary: Diane Stormont

Respected journalist and JMSC Teaching Consultant Diane Stotrmont has died in Hong Kong aged 52 after a long fight with cancer.

She had known for months that her time was running out but – with stubborn courage – had refused to let friends or family know how bad it was.

She tolerated few fools and wanted no fuss.

One message to a close friend in the month before her death expressed her aversion to people “urging the latest last-ditch miracle cure (coffee enemas, Mexican apricot pits, weird and wonderful stuff from the net etc).”

Stormont leaves behind scores of grieving colleagues, students and graduates from the JMSC, where she worked full-time in recent years.

Her specialty was the digital delivery of news after she had spent years training herself in web-based media skills.

“Under her leadership, mobile reporting and live reporting have become integral parts of our curriculum,” said JMSC Director, Ying Chan.

Stormont’s prime qualifiation was her journalism – honed from her start in Hong Kong in the early 1980s. She worked on a selection of titles ranging from Lloyds List to Cathay Pacific’s Emphasis magazine. She was shipping correspondent for the South China Morning Post for two years from 1983.

She joined Reuters news agency in 1986, and went on to become a respected reporter and mentor to younger hacks.

Though renowned for a proven ability to deck the impertinent at a wide variety of bar-side moments, the real Stormont surprise was her deep warmth, generosity and loyal friendship. In return, her friends were extremely loyal to her.

“Diane was an amazing boss and mentor who I’d follow into hell; more importantly she taught a septic tank like myself to be politically incorrect,” said close friend and JMSC colleague, Kevin Lau.

Sharp-witted and dogged, Stormont was sent on “fireman” assignments, such as the dangerous tour she did of Sri Lanka’s civil war, before becoming deputy bureau chief in Seoul, South Korea.

One of her colleagues from there, Lim Chang-Won, said: “It’s really sad to lose such a nice woman. Many people here still remember her hospitality and how she treated people so nicely and kindly. She will be regarded as our eternal friend, although she passed away.”

Her favourite, and last, assignment for Reuters was running the Hong Kong bureau during the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese soveriegnty in 1997.

Stormont was president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club 1992-93, and the Hong Kong FCC 1998-99, the latter role coinciding with when she was the Hong Kong stringer for London’s Daily Telegraph.

She then co-founded a media services company, HongkongNOW, which produced books such as corporate histories of Dairy Farm and Jebsen, as well as the award-winning in-house magazine for Hutchison Port Holdings, HPH Worldwide.

Alongside her work, Diane gave immense time and support to the SPCA, providing sanctuary to countless numbers of cats, dogs and even two hedgehogs at her large home on Lantau.

Scots-born, she had made Hong Kong home after spending the first five years of her life here while her father captained ships for Jardines. Her mother Elizabeth, and siblings Andrew and Katie, were with her when she died at Queen Mary Hospital in Pokfulam.

A wake for Diane will be held in the FCC main dining room on Wednesday, March 21, at 7pm. All are welcome.