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Blue plaque for Newbury's pioneering journalist and campaigner for disabled people



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A pioneering journalist and campaigner is the latest Newbury resident to be honoured with a blue plaque.

Newbury Town Council unveiled its 15th plaque for Doris Page, who was born in 1925, at a ceremony in Essex Street last week.

The journalist and pioneering campaigner for disabled people contracted polio in 1955 and was confined to an iron lung for the rest of her life.

The family of Doris Page at the blue plaque unveiling
The family of Doris Page at the blue plaque unveiling

With the support of her husband Ken, she returned home to 39 Essex Street in 1957 and campaigned tirelessly for the necessary infrastructure to enable disabled people to lead a viable home life.

Councillor Nigel Foot, vice-chair of the town council’s heritage working group, said: “The present residents of 39 Essex Street, Alison and Mike Joliffe, have very kindly agreed for the blue plaque to be attached to their home, where it will be easily legible from the street.

“The town council is very grateful to Mr and Mrs Joliffe, to the Newbury Society for generously contributing £100 to the cost of the plaque, and to Dave Stubbs for advising us on Doris’ life and achievements.”

Doris Page's blue plaque
Doris Page's blue plaque
Newbury MP Laura Farris attended the ceremony
Newbury MP Laura Farris attended the ceremony
Doris Page
Doris Page
Doris Page's family attended the ceremony to unveil a blue plaque in her honour
Doris Page's family attended the ceremony to unveil a blue plaque in her honour
Doris Page's blue plaque is unveiled
Doris Page's blue plaque is unveiled
Doris Page
Doris Page

Doris was a founder member of the charity Independence at Home.

She took a postal course in journalism and started to write on disabled issues for the local and national press, under the pen-name “Ann Armstrong” and using specialist equipment which made writing possible.

From 1963-88 she was editor of The Responaut magazine – the name is thought to be a contraction of respiratory and astronaut.

In 1968, Doris was awarded an MBE for her services.

She wrote two books – ‘Patient’s Prospect’ and ‘Breath of Life’ – which were serialised on BBC Woman’s Hour.

Doris died on August 28, 1991 and her ashes, and those of her husband Ken, are interred at St George’s Church, Wash Common. Her memorial tablet bears the words ‘The First Responaut’.

The plaque was officially unveiled by the deputy mayor of Newbury, Gary Norman, at 1pm last Thursday (May 5), in a ceremony also attended by Newbury MP Laura Farris.

A detailed description of Doris Page’s life is included in the blue plaque pages of the town council website.



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