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Obituary: Amanda Callaghan

We are deeply saddened by the death of former Birkbeck student, Amanda Callaghan, who sadly passed away in 2020 after a spirited and lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 56.

She enjoyed a glittering career in policy, communications and public affairs, cited in PR Week’s 2015 Global Power Book as among the most influential international female leaders in the field. Amanda was born on March 24, 1964, and died at St Joseph's Hospice, Hackney on November 26, 2020.

Personal Memories

Tom Stannard, a contemporary of Amanda's on the Master's degree at Birkbeck, said in February 2022:

Amanda was a long-standing advocate of a woman's right to choose and while at Birkbeck was also public affairs manager at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). Following her MSc in Politics and Public Administration at Birkbeck from 1998 to 2000, Amanda joined the Royal College of Nursing, rising to UK Director of Communications before going on to direct corporate affairs at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and then the British Retail Consortium as well as serving on the BPAS board. Their CEOs spoke fondly at her memorial in late 2021 of an outstanding woman who brought motivation, inspiration, warmth and lasting friendships to the teams she led.

Amanda was one of the finest minds of her generation. She excelled on the Master's through pragmatic and grounded academic curiosity, a natural competitiveness, and compelling writing. She revived and co-chaired the department’s Politics and Sociology Society, giving it impressive reach, a new journal (Minerva), and attracting a stellar line up of major political figures to speak at its events, further consolidating Birkbeck’s national reputation. There could be no better posthumous ambassador for the College, whose MSc she valued highly throughout her career. 

Amanda never shied from battles or challenges to the very end of her life. Interviewed by Hanson in 2016, she was asked which three words best summarised her as a communications pro.  Amanda simply replied, “A listener, strategic, and – for better or for worse – fearless.”  Her colleagues and her lifelong friends would find it hard to disagree.

She will be sorely missed and will live on in the hearts and memories of those who had the privilege of knowing her.