ORTHOPAEDICS: the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments


REHABILITATION: to restore to good health or useful life, as through exercise and education


POLIO/POLIOMYELITIS: a disease that chiefly affects children and causes swelling of parts of nerves in the spinal cord and brain stem, leading to paralysis and often deformity.

John Golding (15th Apr 1921 - 23rd Mar 1996)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 1

Sir John Golding was an expert in tropical orthopaedic medicine who assisted disabled persons to lead normal lives. He was respected throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean as an exceptionally skilled surgeon. His work led him to establish many avenues for the rehabilitation of disabled persons in Jamaica, including the Polio Games (1966), the forerunner of the Special Olympics.

John Simon Golding was born in London on April 15th 1921. He was educated at Marlborough College, then at Caius College, Cambridge. He qualified in medicine at Middlesex Hospital, London in 1944.

He first worked with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the village of Tobruk (1946-1948) where he was the only doctor for hundreds of miles. He gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1949 and was the Registrar at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for two years. There he practised and studied under Sir Gordon Taylor who was considered the “Father of Modern British Orthopaedic Surgery”.

Despite the prospect of a successful career in Britain, Golding came to Jamaica in 1953. He was appointed Senior Lecturer to the first group of medical students at the University College of the West Indies. His area of specialty was medical ethics, and his background in orthopaedics enabled him to establish the School of Physical Therapy.

He decided to stay in Jamaica six months after his arrival. A recent epidemic of poliomyelitis left about 1,500 persons severely paralysed and Golding realised they had little hope of becoming “normal” again. He established a rehabilitation centre at Mona to take care of patients’ broken limbs and helped to mend broken spirits. He also built a workshop that provided skills training and jobs in diverse fields ranging from the making of crutches and wheel chairs to livestock rearing.

Golding’s other initiatives were the Hope Valley Experimental School, which allowed disabled children the opportunity to attend school with other children, and hospices, which cared for the terminally ill, free of charge.

For his work in polio rehabilitation and tropical orthopaedics, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1959) and received the Order of Jamaica (1974). her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 1986. Sir John died on March 23rd 1996. He lived according to his favourite maxim:”The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do a little.”