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Plain English campaign news articles

Chrissie's honorary fellowship acceptance speech

Well, Sex in the City I am not!
Nor am I the greatest scriptwriter, namely Phil, my hero.
But I am a scouser, and proud of it.

I love Liverpool and its people, and to be honoured by Liverpool's greatest university is beyond my wildest dreams.

I just wanted to be a beacon, a light of hope to those who, like me grew up believing they had nothing to give.

Have you any idea how exciting it is for someone, like me, with so little education to be standing here?

I had no early education and only learnt to read and write when I was 14.
My family lived in a slum and there was no welfare state then for a mother with six kids.

But, with God's help and a scouser's determination, I came to meet Harry Deveril, a Liverpudlian with a big heart who paid for me to go to night school.

Later, the guiding hands of the John Moores Foundation provided the expertise, advice, practical help, and unending encouragement that led me to found Plain English Campaign over 30 years ago.  Plain English Campaign has become a respected, worldwide beacon for people struggling with the gobbledygook in public information that affects their daily lives.

Together with supporters of Plain English Campaign, we have built a global industry that started right here, like so many other great things, in Liverpool.

And, this awareness continues into the future with the recent plain English constitution produced by your university student's union.

So it's with pride and gratitude that I accept this honorary fellowship - a symbol of true friendship from this University.

I hope I can make you proud.

I survived poverty to make something out of nowt.

Imagine what dreams you can build with a degree.

Everyday I live my dream, and laugh as much as I can.

The world is yours - go get it - let your light shine bright.

Chrissie Maher's 40 years of studying rewarded

It wasn't the first honour to be placed on Chrissie's shoulders in recognition of her lifelong fight for clearer public communications, but the Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) held the most poignant memories for this grandmother in her seventies.

With an illiterate childhood in an inner-city slum of post-war Liverpool, education itself was a distant dream for Chrissie.  To find herself standing beneath the great naves of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, with thousands of LJMU graduates also receiving acknowledgement for their years of hard work, was beyond Chrissie's wildest dreams.

Read more: Chrissie Maher's 40 years of studying rewarded

Whitewashing the real dirt with the same old smut

A current campaign from Keep Britain Tidy (KBT), called "Get behind keep Britain tidy" follows similar lines to a previous campaign from  some years ago. The current campaign uses "saucy seaside postcard humour" to highlight the increasing costs of cleaning up litter.

During that campaign we received some complaints from the public about the messages being inappropriate, particularly for an audience of young people.  A number of young people we interviewed thought the campaign was close to the bone and unnecessary but agreed it would raise a few laughs. However, they doubted that the campaign would stop people littering as it just belittled the problem rather than highlighted the serious issues of hygiene and health.

Read more: Whitewashing the real dirt with the same old smut

A plainly confusing life of letters and numbers

Algebraic calculations with their mysterious mixture of letters and numbers have been named as number one in the Top 10 of the most confusing things we might come across in our lives. Surprisingly, handling and changing foreign money made the top four, coming in behind ‘understanding the theory of relativity’, and just beating ‘the opposite sex’.

This survey of 3000 holidaymakers by onepoll.com has resulted in the leading foreign exchange specialist Travelex, creating a ‘Plain English guide to exchanging currency’. It is the first guide of this kind to receive accreditation from Plain English Campaign for the clarity of its wording, and its explanations of foreign-exchange jargon.

Read more: A plainly confusing life of letters and numbers

Plain English manifestos

Plain English Campaign calls for ‘clear and straightforward’ manifestos

Gordon Brown has announced the general election is to take place on 6 May 2010.  Plain English Campaign is pleased to know that the Prime Minister is appealing to the public for a ‘clear and straightforward mandate’.  For over 30 years Plain English Campaign has been fighting for ‘clear and straightforward’ information from Parliament and government offices.

Read more: Plain English manifestos

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