Losing everything: My mother was born and raised in Shanghai and my father went to Shanghai in 1926 to work for the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. They met briefly in 1931, when my mother joined the bank, but they didn’t get together until 1937, when they were both living in Hong Kong. My father was still with the bank and my mother had been evacuated because of the Japanese hostilities in China. They married and lived on Peak Road (now Mount Austin Road), which is where I was conceived. In 1940, women and children were evacuated to Australia, but my mother didn’t go as she’d signed up as a volunteer nurse and was considered part of the essential services. When the hostilities broke out, the British mounted guns just below Mount Davis Road and pointed them out to sea because they expected the Japanese invasion to come by sea. When the Japanese invaded from the New Territories, they turned their guns around to fire over Mount Davis and Mount Austin into the New Territories, but they’d forgotten to install a concrete base and the guns had sunk and clipped off the corner of my parents’ apartment building. The British Army gave them seven minutes to clear the building, and then blew it up, so my parents lost everything. Camp life: HSBC was asked to keep operating, so half their staff were retained and the rest went to fight. My father was among those retained and was at the bank when war broke out. My mother was at Bowen Road British Military Hospital. They were sent to Stanley internment camp, which is where I was born in September 1942. My father was ill much of the three years we were there. We used to be allowed to go down to Tweed Bay in Stanley to paddle in the water. The steps down to the beach were very hot and as I didn’t have shoes some poor skeleton of a man had to carry me on his back. I remember playing outside one day and my mother grabbing me and taking me inside. I later learned that was when the Americans bombed and missed and hit a bungalow not far from where we were. When I was three, we were released and went straight from the internment camp to a transport ship. I went ahead with my mother and my father followed two weeks later. When we reached the Suez Canal, the Red Cross gave us all winter clothes so that when we arrived in Southampton (in southeast England), on October 24, 1945, we were warmly dressed. School outings: My father’s mother lived in Royston, near Cambridge. Her husband had died before the war and she was there with her unmarried daughter. My younger brother was born at the end of October 1946. We stayed with my grandmother for just over a year and returned by ship to Hong Kong in February 1947. At that time, HSBC had two offices, the headquarters where it is now in Central, and the Kowloon office, which was in one of the wings of The Peninsula hotel. My father was posted to the Kowloon office and we lived on Waterloo Road. In the late 1940s, Hong Kong was a town, not a city. The traffic on Waterloo Road was so light that aged seven I was allowed to walk by myself to Kowloon Junior School, which in those days was on La Salle Road. My father had strong views about the value of a boarding school education, so aged eight I went to Temple Grove School, in Sussex (southern England). The school had beautiful grounds and three lakes that we ice skated on in winter. For three consecutive years, I came out to Hong Kong for the summer holiday. By that time, you could come by air on a four-engine propeller plane. In 1955, my father reached retirement age, but the bank offered him the chance to manage a small branch in Brunei, so, for three years I went to Brunei for my summers. Opportunity knocks: When I finished school in 1960, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I spent two years working towards being an accountant, but was bored out of my skull, so I quit. I taught for a couple of terms at my old prep school, but realised it wasn’t something that would engage me. I thought advertising sounded glamorous and answered an advert for a London ad agency. At the end of the interview I was told, “Enjoy yourself over the weekend because you are going to start work here on Monday.” When I got home that evening, there was a cable from my uncle in Hong Kong asking me if I’d like to come out and manage his medical products business. I thought, “Why not?” In with the mad men: I returned to Hong Kong in October 1964 and my uncle met me at Kai Tak Airport . In those days you took the vehicular ferry from Yau Ma Tei to Hong Kong side. I got out of the car, walked to the front of the ferry, felt the spray on my face and thought, “I’m back home.” On my first day, my uncle marched me over to the Hong Kong Cricket Club in Central and made me a member – you could get a three-course lunch for HK$3 in those days. For the first six months, I took a room at the New Zealand Insurance Juniors Mess, on Robinson Road. During that time, I fell in with the advertising crowd. They had a four-bedroom flat in Repulse Bay and there was a vacancy, so I took it. The rent was HK$1,500 (for the whole flat) a month, which was affordable even for us. As if no one else was there: The 1967 riots never affected us in terms of what we wanted to do. We’d go to the bars in Wan Chai, which was the cheapest place to drink. I’d first met Ruby, the woman who would become my wife, on a friend’s boat, but it wasn’t until I’d returned from leave in the UK in the summer of 1967 that we met again at a party – it was as if no one else was there as far as we were concerned. Five years later we got married and, in 1973, our son Julian was born. In 1979, my uncle announced he wanted to retire and was selling his company to Jardines. I didn’t want to work for a big corporation. A medical products company in the UK asked me to set up a branch in Hong Kong and said I could have equity in it, so I started a new business. Ruby had been working for her brother-in-law’s graphic-design company and when he retired, he gave her 70 per cent of the company, so we were both developing businesses. Democratic foundling: Following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 , there was a big demonstration and one of my wife’s staff asked if we wanted to join them in Statue Square. I was one of the few non-Chinese faces among the thousands of people there. As a young child, I’d been interested in what went on in the world, but when I came to Hong Kong there was no politics here. It regenerated my thinking. My wife and I saw an advert asking for people to join the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation, an English-language group, and we did. In 1991, the chairman, Leong Che-hung, asked if I’d help arrange a seminar on constitutional reform. The conference was a full-day affair and we had 200 people show up, lots of academics and people in government. That really got me into the thick of things, and the following year I was elected vice-chairman (of the Democratic Foundation) and remained in that position until I stepped down four years ago. Heard mentality: Hong Kong is my home. I always thought I was descended from the prominent Heard family – whose residence, Heard House, in Battery Path, housed the Court of Final Appeal until 2015 – but it was only recently that I got proof, thanks to a DNA match and research done by a PhD student who I sponsored at Bristol University. He found documents that, together with my DNA test, confirm that Richard Howard Heard was the son of John Heard, one of the four Heard brothers of Augustine Heard and Company and my great-great-grandfather. My grandmother’s birth certificate confirms Richard Howard Heard is my great-grandfather. I’m the sixth generation to have lived and worked in China and my son is the seventh.