Untold Stories of National Awardees | Nothing revs Diana Stewart's engine like generosity
Diana Stewart of Stewart's Auto Sales is passionate with an eye for detail. She is also someone who loves to serve. But there is more. She has an unquenchable desire for the growth and development of Jamaica.
A philanthropist and business leader, Stewart, who now sits in the chairman's seat at her family-owned business, is to be conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander class) for outstanding entrepreneurship through the development of the automobile and transportation industry, as well as her altruism.
"This was so far from my mind, and when I received the call, I was really surprised," she shared with The Gleaner. "Receiving this Order of Distinction, Commander class award is quite surprising. I actually wasn't here, but they called to ask if I would accept and I told them I would. It has been very lovely."
Stewart shared that her biggest passion is helping those in need.
"What drives me forward is seeing the needs of Jamaica, which are many. I have been doing philanthropic work, maybe since 1973. I have also worked at Stewart's Auto Sales full-time since 1975, and it's my lifelong commitment to assist in whatever way I can," she shared.
MOVING TO JAMAICA
Stewart was also at the forefront of the move to make the rent-a-car industry what it has become today, formal and growing, when a group of them presented to Parliament a submission that resulted in new laws being passed to govern the sector.
Born in England to a British mother and Jamaican father, Diana first arrived in Jamaica at the age of four years - young, impressionable and loving life.
"I remembered getting off the boat and just smelling the oranges. It was so exciting then. Later, I attended The Queen's School and then Hampton," she said.
Following a short return to England, she came back to Jamaica to attend Immaculate Conception High School, and did a business course in accounting, shorthand typing and business.
Diana then married Richard at age 19 - a second-generation Stewart working in the family business.
Stewart shared that her philanthropic endeavours entail plenty of hard work, but noted that the results of it give her the most pleasure.
"I worked in a constituency on the ground for transport, culture and what was needed in community centres, among other things. And I ended up having a group for seven years. One year we did Bedward on the August 3, 1988, Independence Day, and we won the gold medal, and we still have some of the employees here working with me," she said.
"I have also been part of the Grants Pen project, which was, and still is, a model for all the communities across Jamaica, and which has been used across the world in other troubled countries. That has been extremely fulfilling also," she said of the award-winning project.
Stewart explained that she gets a tremendous amount of satisfaction from helping others, born out of her own horrific accident as a child in England, which left her unable to walk for nearly one year.
"I broke my back and neck as a child and did not walk for 10 months, and I had a lot to think about in that time. I think it was there that I made the decision to become someone who gives back. I have been doing so ever since," she noted.
When asked what is her vision for Jamaica, Stewart said: "Everyone is trying to move this country along in the right way, and I truly believe it's going to happen. My vision for Jamaica is that we are going to do very well. No country can ever be crime free, but it is my firm belief that our crime rate will be lowered to an acceptable level."