Sarah Ali

By her sisters, Maryam and Hannah

Sarah Ali Escarcega memorial plaque
Photo: Alex Towle

An Englishwoman in New York

So, how does a feisty little girl born to first generation immigrant parents in South London end up in the bustling and heady metropolis known as New York?

She was born Sarah Bibi, the middle of three sisters, and became the ever peacemaker.

She was friendly, popular and everyone wanted to be her friend.

Sarah Ali
Photo: copyright Hannah Ali

At the age of 17, she joined the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street as a Saturday girl – manning the information desk – and her love of music was born. One of her favourite childhood songs was ‘As tears go by’ and she loved Sting and The Police. She would tell her little sister to come up after school because “Spandau Ballet were coming in today. You want to see Tony Hadley, don’t you?!”

Having completed her degree in Business & Marketing, her talents and work ethic saw her progress up the corporate ladder. The world became her oyster, and she was soon riding the waves of her success. One of the highlights of her career was getting Reuters, when she headed marketing for their Australian equities business, an exclusive stand on the only corporate ship docked in Sydney harbour during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

She loved travelling, and one of her most memorable trips was when that same ‘little’ sister arranged a trip on Concorde for her. “Okay, that was amazing, we are quits now,” she said upon return. “But I still want my Madonna picture disc from way back.”

From London to Tokyo. From Sydney to New York. The ultimate jet setter!

Sarah Ali
Photo: copyright Hannah Ali

Sarah touched so many lives with her magic: it was once met, never forgotten. Testimony shows this by the hundreds of tributes sent to my parents from people she met, however briefly. She was one of those rare people that manages to connect with everyone they come into contact with. She was always kind, generous and so non-judgemental. Doubt she even knew the words ‘I told you so!’.

There are too many ‘Sarah’ stories to tell, like when mum was calling her once in Japan and asked her, “What is that noise in the background?”. Sarah replied: “Oh, that’s just an earthquake, nothing to worry about.” She was always making her family and friends laugh, from the funny voices she would put on, to the hilarious retelling of her adventures. Like the time she dressed up as one of the Spice Girls in a black PVC outfit, but couldn’t then sit in the taxi because it was so tight – so she had to lie down!

She met the man of her dreams in London, summer of 2000; their whirlwind romance across time zones brought her back from Sydney to marry him in London, before moving with him to New York. Once she reached New York, it was like she had found her true home, without realising it. She absolutely loved being there and we knew she would have no trouble settling in. After moving there in late April 2001, by the summer, she was itching to get a job. Enter Neil Cudmore, of Risk Waters, who was so impressed by her he offered her a job immediately. She’d only been with the company two weeks prior to that fateful day.

Sarah Ali
Photo: copyright Hannah Ali
From left to right: Maryam, Sarah and Hannah

She is the shining star in our lives that has dimmed
She is the backbone of our family that has bent
She is the laughter that has quietened

She is the beating of our hearts that has slowed

Most of all, she is all the best of memories in our existence that will forever grow stronger.

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