Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Right Honourable
The Baroness Campbell of Surbiton
Official portrait of Baroness Campbell of Surbiton crop 2.jpg
Born (1959-04-19) 19 April 1959 (age 60)
London, England
Known forCampaigner and adviser for disability reforms
TitleLady Campbell of Surbiton

Jane Susan Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, DBE (born 19 April 1959[2]) was Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) from 2006–08. She also served as Chair of the Disability Committee which lead on the EHRC Disability Programme. She was the former Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). She was Commissioner of the Disability Rights Commission until it was wound up in October 2006.

Early life[edit]

Campbell grew up in New Malden, in Surrey. Her father, Ron, was a heating engineer and her mother, Jesse, was a window dresser in a gown shop.[citation needed] At the age of nine months Campbell did not have the strength in her neck muscles to hold her head up, and exhibited little movement by the age of one year. Her mother consulted the family doctor who referred her to the local Kingston Hospital.[citation needed]

She was subsequently referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and given a prognosis that she would not live to reach the age of two years; however, it was her younger sister, Sally, who died from the same disease before that age. As a child she was prone to getting severe chest infections, which occurred two or three times per year, sometimes requiring hospitalisation.[3]


Campbell went to a segregated school for disabled children where academic achievement was not the top priority. Her best friend, who had a hole in the heart, died at the age of 13 years. She left school at the age of 16 years with no qualifications, and hardly able to read or write, but she nevertheless regarded herself as quite intelligent.[4]

In 1975 she enrolled at Hereward College, Tile Hill, Coventry; a special college for disabled students where there was an academic environment, and where she was generally able to enjoy the life-style of an ordinary teenager.[3] While there she gained six O-levels and three A-levels within three years.[4] From Coventry she went to Hatfield Polytechnic, and then became an MA at the University of Sussex with a dissertation on Sylvia Pankhurst.[4]


In 1996 Campbell co-founded and directed the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) where she worked for six years before being appointed by the Minister for Social Care to chair SCIE. She is an active leader in the social care field and a campaigner and adviser for disability reforms.

As chair at the British Council of Disabled People, and co-director at NCIL, Campbell saw these organisations through pioneering work in the field of independent living, civil rights, peer counselling and equal opportunities. In 1996 she co-authored a book entitled Disability Politics, and was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Queen's 2001 Birthday Honours.

In 2003, Campbell was awarded an honorary doctorate in law from Bristol University and another in social sciences from Sheffield Hallam University. Currently, she is exploring the notion of a human rights perspective of social care.

In February 2007, it was announced by the House of Lords Appointments Commission that she would be made a life peer and would sit as a crossbencher. Her peerage was gazetted as Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (a district within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames) on 30 March 2007.

Personal life[edit]

Campbell met her first husband, Graham Ingleson, at Hereward College; they married when she was 27 years old. He was a haemophiliac, and six weeks before the wedding they discovered that he had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, from which he later died. She currently lives in the Kingston borough district of Tolworth, with her second husband Roger Symes, a businessman.[4]

Because of her physical weakness Campbell requires help to do almost everything, and needs a ventilator to help her breathe at night. She uses an electrically powered wheelchair[3] and has a computer on which she types with one finger. She receives a direct payment from the local authority for her care needs, which enables her to employ five female carers to help her with the routine activities of daily living.[3]


  1. ^ "Baroness Campbell". Desert Island Discs. 5 August 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ Baroness Campbell's official website, livingwithdignity.info; accessed 25 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "The House I Grew Up In, with Baroness Campbell as participant". The House I Grew Up In. 1 September 2009. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
  4. ^ a b c d Birkett, Dea (11 July 2009). "I'm bossy. I'm ambitious. I love ideas. And I love life: Dea Birkett meets Jane Campbell, a Life Peer with spinal muscular atrophy". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2009.