Linda Norgrove to be honoured by University of Manchester

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The University of Manchester is today (20 October) honouring the Scottish development worker Linda Norgrove, just over a year after she was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan.

Her outstanding alumna award will be collected at the University by her parents at a ceremony attended by some of her former classmates and lecturers.

Linda, who took her PhD at the University’s Institute for Development Policy and Management between 1999 and 2003 under the supervision of Professor David Hulme, would have been 37 last month.

She was working with US consultancy company Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) on development projects in a remote, rural area in East Afghanistan.

Three Afghans captured with her were released unharmed a few days later.

The world watched in horror as events unfolded, prompting messages of condolence from David Cameron and Barak Obama.

Linda was buried in October last year at a cemetery overlooking the Atlantic on the island of Lewis near her home.

Her parents, John and Lorna, have set up the Linda Norgrove Foundation in her memory with the aim of carrying on her work in the country she was passionate about.

So far, they have raised more than £300,000, funding projects with guidance and support from DAI including a fledgling tourism business.

John Norgrove said: “Linda’s kidnapping and subsequent death have been extremely difficult to come to terms with. From the outset, we were determined to avoid the road of blame culture and compensation, and to try to ensure that something positive might come out of the tragedy.

“The charity that we set up in Linda’s name to help women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan has gone from strength to strength, it has kept us busy in a positive way and it has been great to see good work being achieved on the ground in Afghanistan.”

At the event there will be an address by the Dean of Humanities , Professor Keith Brown and a citation by Professor Hulme.

There will also be contributions from Mr and Mrs Norgrove and a lecture by Dr Admos Chimhowu, who was her classmate on the PhD programme and is now a lecturer at the University of Manchester.

Professor Hulme said: “Linda was well-known for her academic work, her support for friends and colleagues as well as roller-blading, mountain walking and long distance cycling.

“Her death is still such a sad loss for all of us all and our thoughts are with her parents who have suffered so much and whose lives have been reshaped by the terrible event last year.

“Linda was highly regarded by her Afghani and expatriate colleagues – and had the analytical and practical skills to get things done in the most difficult of environments.

“She was one of the few people in the world to have the values and skills, to help improve living standards in such difficult contexts and fully understood how dangerous this work was.

“Someone had to try to help rural Afghanis improve their livelihoods and she was prepared to take the risks.”

He added: “My first contact with her was when she wrote from Mexico to enquire if I would be interested in supervising her PhD. I was impressed with her academic track record, focus, experience and energy.

“I had the privilege of spending time with her at her PhD field site in Mount Elgon, Uganda, where she was analysing the shift of the National Park from a ‘fines and fences’ approach to ‘community conservation’.

“In that visit I had many insights into Linda’s brilliant fieldwork skills and also her personal philosophy – not because she preached about it but just because you just had to ask questions.”

The University’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations recognises the achievements of its former students with outstanding alumni awards.

They must achieve distinction within their profession, provide exemplary service to the University, or have made an outstanding contribution of a personal humanitarian nature.