Glasses were raised, tears were shed and stories told as relatives, friends and colleagues of Clare Hollingworth gathered to celebrate her life at the FCC on January 19.
Club president Tara Joseph kicked off proceedings with a warm tribute to Clare, who died on January 10 at the age of 105, and asked what she would have made of the new era of media – ‘would she approve of people retweeting tweets from presidential candidates?’.
She added: “She led a very full life… This was the woman who had the scoop of the century reporting the start of World war Two as she saw tanks and troops lined up at the Polish border.
“She went on to produce many scoops in her lifetime as a journalist.
“Another important thing for many of us is that Clare also broke barriers. She was the epitome of the swashbuckling correspondent – but that was only a few decades after two decades after women in Britain secured the vote.”
Hong Kong’s British Consul General Andrew Heyn said the Foreign Office had not always been very keen on what Clare was reporting. But he added that Clare had integrity and was an example to journalists today: “She is a role model for the younger generation, a role model for women, and also as a fierce defender of the truth.”
Clare had been a member of the FCC for more than 35 years.
Clare’s great nephew told the gathered audience how, as a correspondent, her scoop on the outbreak of World War Two had often overshadowed other achievements in her life – most notably the fact that she helped Jewish refugees flee Germany, saving many lives.
Her good friend Cathy also paid tribute to the courageous correspondent, revealing how she kept on top of news events in later years despite the fact that her eyesight and hearing was failing. And her long-time carer Susan Helen fought back tears as she recalled Clare’s kindness and quick wit.
She said: “She was very fond of singing… Every day, every hour… every minute we will sing this ‘Rule Britannia Britannia rules the world!“
Tributes were read out from dignitaries and journalists around the world, including last Hong Kong governor Chris Patten; and former Telegraph editor Max Hastings; and Stephen Robinson, who led the Telegraph’s foreign desk between 1997 and 2001.