Obituary: Bernard Trude

Carolyn Miller, chief executive of Merlin, remembers her former colleague and director of the organisation

Bernard Trude

The death of Bernie Trude on 27 January is an enormous loss for the voluntary sector.

Bernie was an innovative and experienced leader in several international development agencies during a long and successful career. He had an abiding passion for social change and worked hard to find ways to involve people in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

For the past year, Bernie had been a director of Merlin, the international medical relief agency.

Responsible for business development and planning, he helped drive the organisation forward with enthusiasm and commitment. He was dedicated to finding innovative and effective ways of supporting Merlin's work and what he achieved in a short time is immeasurable.

His extensive experience of managing change and communications with donors and funders helped to secure vital additional funding at a challenging time.

Bernie wanted to keep working through recent months as he dealt with increased sickness and treatment for his cancer, and remained positive and inspiring despite the difficulties he faced. He will be warmly remembered for his great sense of humour and his ability to form close and valued work friendships.

Before joining Merlin, Bernie spent five years as executive director of Healthlink Worldwide, overseeing its repositioning as a niche health communication organisation.

During this time he also joined Domingos, a group representing directors of medium-sized international NGOs. Here he shared the entrepreneurial spirit and sense of fun he always drew on to meet the challenges leaders face working in our sector.

From 1997 to 2002, Bernie was head of several international departments at ActionAid's London headquarters. He was responsible for building strategic relationships with the EU, the Department for International Development and other institutional donors, and directed a global corporate communication and branding project to reposition the organisation as a rights-based global network.

Bernie's field experience came from working with VSO as country director in both India and the eastern Caribbean, where he ran programmes across nine island states from the field office on St Lucia.

He first joined VSO as a volunteer in 1985, working in Sri Lanka on an audiovisual project at Kandy University.

This was a development of his early career as a lecturer in audiovisual design at the London College of Printing, which came after his degree in media and production design at the same college. He later studied for an MA in voluntary sector studies at the University of East London.

Bernie had a huge variety of interests. In between his work commitments, he took many significant overseas trips with his partner Addie, and had also realised a long-term dream to travel on the Orient Express.

He leaves a wide circle of friends and family and is remembered by so many people with real affection and warmth, not least for his unfailing cheerfulness and determination.

Bernard Trude died in London on 27 January

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