THE first hint of real sadness over leaving Hong Kong consumed Becky, Lady Purves a few days ago when she joined her husband for a valedictory lunch hosted in their honour by Japanese business tycoon Kazuo Wada. It was meant to be just another engagement in the lengthy list of farewell functions that the couple have been attending in recent weeks. But for Becky this one - held at Sky High, the $85 million Peak home that billionaire Wada bought from the Hongkong Bank - was poignantly different. For it was here, ''among the clouds'' as she puts it, that Becky started her new life as Mrs Purves after marrying Willie on a cold February day in 1989. ''A feeling of nostalgia tinged with a certain amount of gloominess gripped me even as we were driving along Pollock's Path. ''We hadn't been back since moving out about three years ago, so for me at least it was quite an emotional return. I had brought my camera along, and since it was such a beautiful day I took lots of photographs, especially of the view. Somehow it always seemed covered in mist when we lived there''. Not that Becky would have had much time to enjoy the spectacular views even if the clouds had cleared. For no sooner settled into her new surroundings she started devoting her energies to charitable causes - a matter of great import to the territory's social illuminati (of whom she became an immediate member by nature of her position as the wife of the territory's No 1 banker). In time Becky became a strident fund raiser for the Cancer Fund, the Aids Foundation and the lesser known Playright, a charity devoted to providing playgrounds and play areas for children. But she's quick to unfasten the do-gooder tag. ''It was something I enjoyed doing,'' she counters. ''I was very raw when I started, especially when compared with some others like Jennifer Tose and Jennifer Murray who seemed such experts at charity fund raising. I knew I had a lot to learn, and they now tell me that I was a good student''. Although tying the matrimonial knot only four years ago, Becky has known Willie for over 30 years. Their paths first crossed when she was schoolgirl Rebecca Lewellen living in Sri Lanka where her father worked at the US Embassy as naval attache, and he was, Becky recalls, ''quite junior at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank's office in Colombo''. And despite Becky leaving for New York to take up a career in fashion with Harper's Bazaar magazine and a subsequent change of posting for her dad, the Lewellens stayed in touch with the Purves. Eventually, in 1970, Becky met Willie once again in Hong Kong and, through his help, managed to secure a job on the fashion front with the Trade Development Council. ''I actually came to Hong Kong on my way to visit friends in Sri Lanka, but ended up staying here after liking what I saw. It was an enjoyable time,'' she reminisces. ''I lived with two other friends at an apartment in the Mid Levels.'' During this period Becky was a regular visitor to the home of Willie and his first wife Diana, whom he divorced after 30 years of marriage two months before proposing to Becky. Returning to London after three years, Becky changed career, moving into the art world. She gave up a job with the Medici Gallery in plush Mayfair to marry Willie. A high-profile member of the local social scene, Becky had the unenviable task of balancing her natural sense of joie de vivre with her more studied role as wife of the de facto ''governor'' of the territory's central bank. The general consensus is that she managed this precarious high wire act with grace and poise. But now it's time to move back to London again, a prospect that fills her with excitement and foreboding in equal measure. ''It's going to be a very different life for me compared to when I lived in London before,'' she says. ''Because of the job, Willie will have to do a lot of entertaining at home, and that's something I will have to be heavily involved in. ''We have a mews house in London, but when Willie bought it he didn't think he'd actually have to live in it. I've already freighted back 118 pieces of luggage, so it will probably be a bit crammed. ''My first priority will be fixing up our new home and getting settled. That's what I'll be spending my time on in the next few months. But I've already had two requests from London to do charity work''. Becky's parting thoughts? ''I owe so much to Hong Kong because I learnt so much here. But Willie will be coming here every other month and, hopefully, I'll be able to join him now and then''.