Home of the Ann Armstrong Archive & Responaut magazine

Welcome to the website continuing the legacy of Doris Page, also known under her pen name as Ann Armstrong.

Ann Armstrong was an active campaigner for those with respiratory polio which she contracted in 1955, and which left her with locomotary and respiratory failure. She raised awareness of the challenges faced by people living with extensive paralysis and disability. She created a network which was intended to support people who found themselves in these situations.

Ann Armstrong campaigned for assistance for disabled people to lead more independent lives, and crucially in her view, to be allowed to live at home, which was not the norm at the time. She was a prime mover in the creation of a new charity in 1965 called Invalids at Home, which would help realise these aims at a practical level (www.independenceathome.org.uk).

In 1968 Ann Armstrong was awarded an MBE for her work in journalism which included recognition for founding and editing the magazine The Responaut (1963-1989) which was a quarterly magazine that was by, for and about respirator-aided and other gadget-aided people. Confined to her bed and unable to move her arms or hands or even breathe unaided, Ann Armstrong reached out through The Responaut and created a community offering support for others. Ann Armstrong was also an active contributor to the local newspaper The Reading Evening Post where she had a regular column and published in national newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times on disability related issues.

Ann Armstrong’s writing career continued with the publication of two accounts of her experience: Patients Prospect (1981) and Breath Of Life (1985) in which she reflected upon adjusting to her disabilities, hospitalisation and separation from her husband and two young children. Ann Armstrong’s experience raises a number of important issues which she fought hard to address throughout her life. However, many of these are of relevance today, particularly those concerning the attitudes and assumptions made by the medical profession and authorities towards individuals, and how the experience of sudden, unexpected and permanent disability can impact your sense of yourself and your identity.

Ann Armstrong’s story demonstrates how someone was able to challenge the outcome of a life of complete locomotary and respiratory paralysis, and who found ways for her voice to be heard. In campaigning as she did, and sharing her experience to motivate others, she challenged stereotypes and brought about change.

Ann Armstrong died in 1991.

We will be adding more material from Ann Armstrong’s personal archive to develop this website as a resource. If you would like to know more about anything you see on the site, contact us