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Plain speaking - a story of inspiration and aspiration; Phil Redmond.

WENT to a great gig on Wednesday night. Bryan May, Gerry Marsden, Rita Tushingham and Allison Steadman all turned out. Yes, it was the annual Graduation Dinner at Liverpool John Moores University and while Bryan May is the Chancellor, the rest are, like myself, Fellows of the University. As are the Dali Lama, Bill Bryson, Stevie G and John Timpson, founder of the shoe shop chain. I am proud receive this honour My own Fellowship dates from 1993, but this week I was elevated to become an Ambassador Fellow, only the second such to be granted and something neither the Dali Lama nor Stevie G have yet to attain, by the way. And I got a new hat.

However, levity aside, I am really very proud to receive this additional honour from LJMU, especially at the same ceremony as Chrissie Maher who, in 1971, founded the UK's first community newspaper, The Tuebrook Bugle.

The news and features were written by local people in their own particular style and became a model for many others across the UK. Most have died away now, although the spirit can still be found in things like Scottie Press and the recent newspaper for young people in Anfield and Breckfield as part of the Biennial's "On the Street" project.

Perhaps the place for such projects is now on the web, but Chrissie's own story, from impoverished uneducated background to starting The Bugle and then eventually the Plain English campaign is yet another Scouse story of inspiration and individual aspiration.

The power of the individual seeing something that needed doing and just getting on with it; dragging officialdom behind in their wake so aptly demonstrated in 1994 when Chrissie pointed out that the NHS then had a 229-word definition: for a bed.

really to The Plain English Campaign is now recognised globally as the foremost advocacy agency for trying to abolish legalese and bureaucratic gobbledegook. Or, put another way, making things easier and clearer to understand.

Above all, though, Chrissie was an early advocate of the sort of community action that the Big Society is trying to promote. Proof once again that whenever anything radical happens, or is planned, it has usually already happened in Liverpool.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 16, 2010
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