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Fireman Doug, son of Tarzan

Doug Learmond and I were both mainly econ reporters for Reuters, but the only occasion I worked with him on a story was on a distinctly non-econ one during my time in Zurich.  One August morning in 1993, I’d had to rush into the office extra early after the Kapellbrücke, Lucerne’s world-famous covered wooden footbridge spanning the River Reuss, went up in flames. There I was writing up the story from local wire reports, TV and radio, and working out how long it would take to send a reporter to the scene, when the phone rang. It was Doug. “I’m on holiday in Lucerne. Can I help?” In the next 1-2 hours, Doug fully earned his byline by phoning in details of the scene, quotes from locals, and vital colour.

As others have already said, Doug was a delightful, charming colleague. He and I had both spent part of our early childhoods in Burma, so that was often a source of conversation between us. He was very proud of his father, Alexander “Tarzan” Learmond, an officer with the Burma Military Police, who was mentioned in dispatches for his work in helping the evacuation of British civilians from Burma during the Japanese invasion of 1942. The Learmonds stayed on in Burma till 1949, when they left for Ireland. ■