In memoriam: Belinda Allan

24 July, 2013

Belinda Allan, who played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Refugee Studies Centre as its first Development Officer, has died, aged 77. She will be sadly missed.

Belinda worked closely with the RSC’s founder, Barbara Harrell-Bond, from the Centre’s beginnings during the early 1980s until her retirement in February 1999. In that time, Belinda’s tenure saw through the establishment of a thriving centre for research and teaching in refugee studies, the first of its kind. 

The Centre’s many achievements during this time – made possible by Belinda’s fundraising – included the establishment of our postgraduate teaching programme and the International Summer School in Forced Migration; the creation of the RSC’s endowment fund, which underpins our Directorship and supports our permanent academic posts; and the funding of an impressive array of conferences, research networks and new research programmes.

David Turton, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, 1997-2001, said: 'The "official record" will say that Belinda Allan was the Development Officer of the Refugee Studies Programme (which later became the Refugee Studies Centre) for fifteen years, from its beginnings in the 1980s to 1999.

'But anyone who had even passing knowledge of the struggles and triumphs of the RSP during those years will know how little that description tells us of Belinda’s part in helping not only to create, but also to secure the future of, this unique institution. She, and the founding Director, Barbara Harrell-Bond, were a formidable  one might even say unstoppable – team: energetic, determined and totally committed to making a difference, through multidisciplinary research and teaching, to the lives of refugees. They were, in effect and as Barbara would be the first to agree, the co-founders of the RSP.

'When Belinda retired, I wrote in the RSP’s Annual Report that "her contribution to the RSP cannot be exaggerated and certainly cannot be encapsulated in a few words." I was right on the first point but wrong on the second. Belinda’s contribution to the RSP, and therefore to today’s Refugee Studies Centre, can be perfectly encapsulated in five words: without her, it wouldn’t exist.'

There will be a service to celebrate Belinda Allan’s life at St Barnabas Church, Jericho, 2pm, Sunday 28 July.