Readers might remember that I wrote my July column on holiday on the Hebridean island of Lewis and sent it from the Uig Community Centre. Last month, the remote centre was packed with mourners for the funeral of Linda Norgrove, the aid worker who was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan.
Linda grew up on a croft in Uig with her parents John and Lorna Norgrove and her sister Sophie. Through a mutual friend in Lewis - Brian Hindson, former deputy director of the British Red Cross - my partner has known Linda's parents for some time. Over dinner in July, John Norgrove and I spoke about Linda's work in Afghanistan. I could feel John's real concern for his daughter, but also his pride in her life-long commitment to humanitarian work.
When I heard on the news in September that an aid worker had been kidnapped in Afghanistan, my first thought was that it might be Linda. Tragically, a rescue attempt by US forces failed to save her, with initial reports suggesting that Linda had died as a result of a captor detonating a suicide vest. The Prime Minister then announced that Linda might have been killed accidentally by a US grenade.
Throughout their terrible ordeal, John and Lorna have shown incredible dignity and forbearance, refusing to blame or scapegoat. As Lorna has said: "Linda is dead and there is nothing we can do to change that." Instead, they have set up a charity - the Linda Norgrove Foundation - to carry on Linda's work in Afghanistan.
The foundation is a fitting tribute to Linda, who was seen as a daughter and a sister by the Afghans. Fiercely intelligent but unassuming, Linda learnt the Dari language and was practical and hardworking; but above all else, she wanted to help the Afghan people.
By establishing the foundation, John and Lorna have transmuted their grief into a beacon of hope. Brian Hindson, now a trustee of the foundation, was one of the men asked to carry Linda's funeral bier in a Hebridean tradition know as 'the lift'. Brian told me that the physicality of carrying the bier and stamping earth on to Linda's grave was strangely comforting.
John and Linda's forgiveness is not of the passive variety, but a similarly physical act of courage and love. Linda lost her life in the service of the Afghan people. Her parents' dedication to continuing her work is an inspiration to us all.
- Rosamund McCarthy writes in a personal capacity
- Rosamund McCarthy is a partner in law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite