Prof. Hugh Young, who Dean of the School of Maths and Physics when Stuart was at UEA in the mid-1980’s and who is uncle to Stuart’s wife, has written a profile of his career:
Stuart Ramsay (SOC) graduated from UEA in 1985 as did his wife Toni (née Moore, FAM). I was then a UEA academic and Toni is my niece, so inevitably I have taken an interest in their subsequent careers.
Stuart is Sky News' Chief Correspondent, and I might mention that, as I began compiling this article, Stuart was on recovery leave following a narrow escape from an IS suicide bomb blast and from sniper fire in Mosul on 16 March. The report of the explosion can be seen here on the Sky News website.
After graduation Stuart began a career in journalism, moving from local newspapers to nationals and then into television. He is currently Sky News' Chief Correspondent and, as their longest-serving Foreign Correspondent, reports on major global news stories and world events. Stuart has been posted to bureaux in Russia, USA, South Africa, India and, most recently, Dubai; on all these occasions he was accompanied by Toni and their three children. The family is now once more UK-based and Stuart's recent assignments have focused primarily on the wars in Syria and Iraq where his recent narrow escape from an Islamic State suicide attack became a social media hit.
Stuart has covered 18 separate wars over a 30-year career and won many awards and nominations, these including two Emmy wins and three nominations, four BAFTA nominations, a Monte Carlo Film Award Golden Nymph, London Press Club's Journalist of the Year and three Royal Television Society wins, including his recent (2017) Scoop of the Year award for his revelation of secret Islamic State files.
After the attacks of 9/11, Stuart has spent much of his working life in Afghanistan and the Middle East, reporting on the many conflicts there and becoming one of the few journalists to interview the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2011, he was at the spearhead of the Sky News coverage of the Arab Spring and became one of the first to cross illegally into Syria to report on the fledgling uprising in the city of Homs. And he has remained in close contact with Syria ever since.
His other stories have included exclusive interviews with Mexican drug cartel bosses, covering the uprisings in Ukraine and the downing of the passenger jet MH17 where he was the first to broadcast live from the crash site.
Many of Stuart and Toni's closest friends at UEA subsequently married and a core group now live only a few miles from them and their children are now friends too. These include Emma Henderson (SOC), Lois Stanley (EAS), Georgia Higgins (MAP), David Holley (EAS), Alexa Lovatt (LAW), Terrence O'Rourke (DEV), George Corbett (SOC) and Tim Bernard (BIO) who see each other most weeks. And there are others, important to them but who they see less frequently. A recent highlight was a reunion at UEA where seven couples partied away the night in the bar – although all agreed it was barely recognisable from 1985!
During his time in South Africa, after interviewing and eventually alienating Mugabi, Stuart escaped capture by his pursuing troops by crossing a hippopotamus-packed river into Tanzania. He later claimed he was more afraid of the hippos than Mugabi's troops, which is not entirely a joke - hippos can be lethally vicious and are rated amongst the most dangerous animals in Africa.
More recently, Stuart accepted a Taliban safety guarantee to interview them in their home base. And there he sat, completely at their mercy, conversing with a masked, white-robed commander whose equally disguised followers lurked in the background. When, for this, he became the London Press Club's Journalist of the year the judges praised his 'chilling' report and called him 'one of the bravest men on TV'.
During a fledgling uprising in the Syrian city of Homs, in order to gain access to the city, Stuart and his friend and colleague Marie Colvin (she famously with a patch-covered eye) penetrated Assad's line of besieging troops by using a two-mile long abandoned storm drain. Sadly, Marie was shot and killed in Homs at that time.
While in Mexico, Stuart’s reporting was important enough that it was afforded a week of daily programs on Sky. A personal memory was to hear one of the shady figures Stuart was interviewing assure him that if he thought him a government agent he'd kill him.
And I can't end without mentioning his 2017 'Scoop of the Year award from the Royal Television Society. For this, he gained access to Islamic State files which contained the names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of thousands of jihadis. The judges praised a 'team effort brilliantly exploiting a leak of data, transforming it into compelling television using the entire toolbox of TV news'.
Prof. W.H.Young, Dean MAP (1984 - 7)