From ISIS to the ironing

‌Young Alumnus of the Year 2014

Martin Patience (MA 2002), BBC Middle East Correspondent

By William Lim, Avenue intern

Martin Patience Young Alumnus of the Year 2014

Martin Patience is not an easy man to get hold of. We have a 10am GMT interview scheduled, but the Beirut-based correspondent is not picking up. After a quick look at his Twitter I realise he is a very busy man – the Syrian Army had retaken the last Islamic State stronghold in the country.

“Sorry,’’ Martin texts “dealing with the Islamic State, can we touch base in an hour?’’

Five days later our attempt to talk is successful. Martin is cheery and talkative despite a succession of turbulent political events in the Middle East. He is used to such situations. The news that he won Young Alumnus of the Year in 2014 came at the busiest of times.

“I was in Hong Kong covering the pro-democracy protests that broke out there in 2014. I was surrounded by more than 100,000 people and checking my email on my phone when it pinged up.’’

Winning the award was a particularly proud moment for Martin who received the award for outstanding achievements in journalism. The University holds a special place in his family.

 ‘’It was a huge honour. I studied there, my sister studied there, my mother and grandfather did too. I felt it wasn’t just for me. It was for the whole family’.’

Ever since he graduated he has not stopped being on the move. Martin described his adventures.

"I left Glasgow in 2002. I graduated and then I had three or four months in the city and then I got on a plane. So, first Cairo, then New York, then Damascus, Jerusalem, Kabul, and Beijing. Then I was in Lagos and now I'm in Beirut.’’

Settling into Beirut has not been easy. Somehow Martin manages to juggle it all. He described a recent day at work.

"Saturday was my day off. At 1:30 an email flashed up that the Lebanese Prime Minister has resigned. Firstly, I filed a radio dispatch. Then I had to rush into the bureau but I had to iron my shirt first as it was for TV. Then I had to think about the Saturday bulletin and how we were going to pull together a piece.

“This was all very stressful because my wife and child were arriving at the airport that evening. What I thought was going to be lazy day to do the shopping completely blew up in my face.’’

Despite the stress and the unpredictable nature of the work, Martin is unfazed.

"I’ve just had an amazing journey. I’ve met extraordinary people and I’ve seen the world in all its beauties and all its frailties and I think that’s an amazing thing."

This content was created by William Lim, a fourth-year student. William undertook an internship to work on Avenue magazine thanks to a bequest by graduate Isa Ellis.