Ali Hewson is an Irish businesswoman and activist best known as the wife of popular singer Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, from the band U2. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she met her future husband Paul when she was 12 years old and studying at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School. She further enrolled into the University College, Dublin, and studied politics and sociology. She had become a big support system for Paul when he was struggling with his career and the demise of his mother. They eventually began dating. In the early 1980s, the couple got married and Ali began her journey towards activism. She narrated a documentary made about the Chernobyl Disaster in 1986. She also moved to Belarus to inspect the radioactive zone after the incident and stayed there for three weeks. She has been working for many other charitable causes. In 2005, she founded a fashion label called EDUN, in collaboration with her husband and the popular costume designer named Rogan Gregory. She is also a founder of the company called Nude, a skincare products company. In addition, she has served as an inspiration for many U2 songs such as ‘Another Time another Place.’
Childhood & Early Life
Ali Hewson was born Alison Stewart, on March 23, 1961, in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland, to Terry and Joy Stewart. She was raised in Raheny as the younger child among the two and had an older brother Ian growing up. Her father worked as an electrician while her mother was a housewife.
As a young child, she attended the same school as Paul Hewson, the future star of the popular band U2. She attended the Mount Temple Comprehensive School with Paul when she was 12 years old. Paul was one grade higher than her. He had a huge crush on her. While she secretly admired him, she never quite expressed her feelings and acted rude towards him.
In September 1974, Paul’s mother passed away, following which Paul became depressed. Things in his family were not good either and seeing that he might need someone, Ali began taking caring of him. She became his support system and helped him get out of the dark phase and focus on his music, which he did and the rest is history.
Ali, meanwhile, had some ambitions of her own. She graduated high school and attended the University College, Dublin to resume her education. There she studied politics and sociology. She married Paul early at the age of 21 and side by side, she focused on her own career as an activist while also coping with her husband’s international fame.
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Career & Activism
She married Paul in the early 1980s and since then, she has been working as an activist, occasionally collaborating with her husband as well. In 1985, her husband’s band U2 participated in Live Aid, a concert for charity. Following that, Paul and Ali moved to Ajibar during the dreaded famine in Ethiopia. They spent five weeks there, working as live aid volunteers.
In the next year, the couple further moved to Nicaragua to help the strife-torn areas in the country. Central American Mission Partners also invited them to come to El Salvador, and Paul and Ali moved there as well, helping people in need.
In the early 1990s, the Sellafield nuclear plant in the UK was indulging in nuclear reprocessing, which posed a great danger to the local environment. Ali participated in the Greenpeace Protest against that, and also opposed strongly the opening of Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant there.
In 2002, she led a huge protest that had people sending podcasts to then Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Charles. More than a million postcards were sent. Many celebrities such as Samantha Mumba and Ronan Keating backed the efforts.
This involvement of hers further got her interested into the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear disaster that took place in Russia in 1986. She took a great risk and moved to Belarus, one of the most dangerously stricken radioactive areas of the incident, for three weeks in order to narrate a documentary film titled ‘Black Wind, White Land.’ The 1993 documentary created a stir internationally as it highlighted the plights of people affected in the incident.
The documentary film received great reviews and so did Ali. Her involvement with the disaster did not stop there. She has also been a patron of Chernobyl Children’s Project International, a charitable organization that works towards helping people who continue to be affected by the aftermath of the disaster. She has also gone there many times and has even driven in the ambulances filled with medical supplies to help people in need.
In 2007, her work in the aid of Chernobyl victims further made her one of the members of the Board of Directors of CCPI. Thus, she became directly involved in the policy making process of the organization.
She has been bestowed with several honours for her work towards activism. In 2002, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Ireland.
In 2005, she collaborated with the popular fashion designer named Rogan Gregory to start a fashion line named EDUN. The company aimed at doing business through a fair-trade route with Africa. She further said that her company aimed at setting an example for others that exploit child labours for their own benefit.
She later also founded her own skincare brand, named Nude. She started the company collaborating with Bryan Meehan. The company started in 2007 used all natural ingredients such as Omega Oils and probiotics as opposed to many others who used chemicals.
Family & Personal Life
Ali Hewson married Paul Hewson on August 21, 1982 in Raheny. U2 was not popular then, but it became so within a year.
Ali had aspired to become a nurse but she gave up her ambition as it would have been difficult for her due to her husband’s widespread fame.
The couple have 4 children together. Most times, Ali acts as a single mother as Paul is mostly out on tours.
They have houses in Alpes-Maritimes, France and New York City, along with a mansion in Killiney, Ireland.