Pictures from Pastavy
A familiar figure looks out over the town square
Memorials to the 4,000 Pastavy Jews murdered by the Nazis in November 1942.
All that's left of Pastavy's Jewish cemetery
I have been a news junkie since before I was big enough to hold a newspaper. As a child growing up in London, I used to kneel on the floor of my parents' home in front of the newspaper's open pages, devouring news of the world into which I had been born, until one day I was big enough to hold the paper open unaided.
On my 18th birthday, I flew to Uganda to spend a year as a volunteer music teacher, and it was there that I became addicted to the BBC World Service. As a student back in the UK, I was the despair of my tutors -- this was 1968, and as I was already a student journalist, there were many more exciting things to do than attend lectures or write essays. "You're going to have to make up your mind," said my politics tutor. "Are you going to be a political scientist -- or a journalist?"
I made up my mind.
After obtaining what can only be described as an excessively modest degree, I joined Reuters news agency, where they tried to teach me to write crisp, accurate copy at high speed. I spent seven years as a foreign correspondent, first in Spain, where the Fascist dictator Francisco Franco was still in power, then in Paris, and later in Rome, where I belatedly discovered that I should have been born an Italian.
In 1977, I moved to the more tranquil world of once-a-week Sunday journalism. I spent 12 years on The Observer, including three years as Middle East correspondent, which meant spending a lot more time than was healthy in Lebanon during its brutal civil war.
At last, in 1989, I ended up where I had always wanted to start -- at the BBC, where I became host of the main radio evening news show The World Tonight on Radio 4 and the flagship global news show Newshour on the World Service. Over the next two decades, I had a ringside seat at several historic events: the reunification of Germany, the end of the Soviet Union, and the handover of Hong Kong by Britain to China. I reported live from more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In June 2013, I was honoured to receive one of the UK's most prestigious journalism awards, the Charles Wheeler award for outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism.
Stu at the railway station