Linda Norgrove

1974 - 2010

Aid Worker

Linda Norgrove was born in Altnaharra, Scotland, in 1974 to John and Lorna Norgrove. She grew up on a croft on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles, attending a primary school in Uig. She later attended the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. Norgrove attended the University of Aberdeen, receiving a first-class honours degree in tropical environmental science. She attended the University of London, receiving a master's degree with distinction in rural resources and environmental policy in 1997.

In 2002, Linda received a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in development policy and management. From 2002 to 2005 she worked for the World Wide Fund in Peru, supporting (and later supervising) the WWF's Forest Program in the Peruvian Andes. At the time of her death, Norgrove was working towards an MBA from the University of Warwick through distance learning in addition to her aid work. She worked in Afghanistan (for the United Nations from 2005 to 2008 and as regional director of an international development company based in Jalalabad beginning in February 2010), Laos (as an environmental specialist for the U.N. in 2008–09), Mexico and Uganda (where Norgrove researched the effects of national park management on the indigenous population near Mount Elgon National Park). She devoted her working life to helping to improve the life of others, especially in Afghanistan.

Linda was kidnapped by members of the Taliban in Kunar, Afghanistan on 26 September 2010. Her captors demanded the release of Afia Siddiqui in exchange for her return and she died in an attempted rescue by US forces on 8 October. She was 36. However, Linda is not defined by the tragic circumstances of her death, but by the life she lived and the choices she made.

Linda chose to live a life that matters. She was a highly qualified and dedicated environmental expert, but it was her rare and precious gift of empathy with all people, no matter their condition, culture or beliefs, that was her driving force.

Linda was regional director for DAI in Jalalabad where she oversaw a USAID project designed to create jobs and strengthen local Afghan leadership and economies in unstable and vulnerable areas.

Linda taught herself to speak Dari, an Afghan version of Persian, to help her establish proper relationships with her Afghan staff and the local communities she visited and worked in. This was clearly a key factor in the success of her work.

Linda received the 2011 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award posthumously for her work in Afghanistan. Her family has established the Linda Norgrove Foundation to continue her relief work.

To make your own nomination download the nomination form here