CRIP Tribute 2021: Caroline Gooding

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Dave Lupton has initiated the CRIP Tribute 2021 – a series commemorating the achievements of disabled people alive or who have passed away. This month Dave recalls the life and work of Caroline Gooding (7 March 1959 – 19 July 2014)

People who knew Caroline, or Cabs as she was affectionally known, remember her as a powerful force in the disabled people’s movement. I knew her mainly through the Trades Union Disability Alliance (TUDA) where her ability to understand the complexities of disability legislation helped us to unravel many of the intricate twists and turns of the emerging Disability Discrimination legislation, specifically the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).

a headshot of Caroline Gooding's smiling face is framed by a cartoon bookshelf

CRIP Awards 2021: Caroline Gooding. Image by Dave Lupton

She was one of the few people who could really explain complex legal argument in a way that those of us with limited legal experience could understand. I can remember creating a cartoon about a complicated aspect of the Act that was due to run in the TUDA News magazine, but I wasn’t sure that I’d got it exactly right. With her usual cheeky grin, she grabbed my pen and with a simple alteration to the wording, turned my clumsy attempt into something that not only carried a clearer message but had added a real punch.

As I got to know her more, I began to see that behind her powerful intellect was a warm, friendly, and supportive woman with a lovely sense of humour. I also learned that It had been the results of a stroke in her early 20’s that had started her on the road as a disabled activist.

Shortly after Cabs died of breast cancer in July 2014 a great deal was written about her professional life and her many academic achievements. I wanted to write about her more from a disability perspective, her activism and support of other disabled activists. But it’s really quite difficult to separate her from the complete professional that she was.

Her important role in defining disability legislation, her trailblazing book Disabling Laws, Enabling Acts (1994), which argued for a rights-based approach to disability in Britain, and the Blackstone’s Guide to the DDA; her subsequent work with the government to produce the first statutory code of practice on its employment provisions, effectively setting the standards for courts and tribunals to apply, all contribute towards making the rich tapestry that was Cabs.

A lifelong socialist and activist, Cabs was also active throughout in promoting feminist, lesbian and gay and anti-racist causes with her partner of 25 years Anne Kane, herself a disabled activist.

It gives me great pleasure to award this posthumous CRIP Award in loving memory of Caroline ‘Cabs’ Gooding. May her strength and tenacity continue to encourage us all in our ongoing fight for equal rights.

Read Cabs obituary in the Guardian for journalist Bob Niven’s overview of her distinguished career.

You can also click here to obtain information about the Caroline Gooding memorial lecture (2020).


To nominate a disabled person for a Crip Award please email colin[at]disabilityarts.online with your reflection.