Martin Pagel has written a tribute to Lorraine Gradwell who sadly passed away on Sunday 3rd of September
“Oi, less of the old”
One of Lorraine's favourite sayings was:
'Make new friends but keep the old
One is silver the other is gold.'
Family mattered, friendship mattered, people mattered; Lorraine was undoubtedly a people person. She could spot potential, but even more impressive, she had the skills to mentor, train, coax and cajole to ensure that people developed and achieved. Skills which were used not only at work but in her part-time role as matchmaker. Conversely, she wouldn't suffer fools and made sure they knew it; usually politely and diplomatically - but not always so. Lorraine had an immense range of skills which were central to the development of disabled people's organisations in Manchester, across the country and internationally.
In addition to being an activist, campaigner, educator, writer, poet and pioneering advocate for the Social Model of Disability and Independent Living, Lorraine was also an organiser. Lorraine was a founding member of GMCDP and held most of the committee roles throughout her membership. She was also the Development Worker and Co-ordinator/Team Leader who helped the Coalition achieve so much throughout the 80s and 90s. Organising ideas into action. Lorraine was also actively involved in many other organisations; including BCODP, UPIAS, Manchester Disabled Athletes, Manchester City Council and Unison. She also developed the transition from sheltered workshops to mainstream employment and training as the inaugural Chief Executive of Breakthrough-UK.
Lorraine was an amazing disabled woman; an inspirational leader, mentor and a warrior in the fight for a just and equal society.
We all owe Lorraine an enormous debt of gratitude.
We also owe a big thank you to Tony, John and Jenny for sharing Lorraine with us.
Lorraine was my oldest friend, but, as I was reminded yesterday, she'd be quick to say “oi, enough of the old”.
Goodbye Lorraine, I hope you are together again with Kevin, Cathy, Nev, Ian, Sue, Ken, Alison and all the other warriors we have lost x