Dame Esther Rantzen DBE
Esther Rantzen was born in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire in 1940, and graduated from Somerville College Oxford with a degree in English. She joined the BBC as a sound effects assistant in radio, then became a researcher in television, and in 1968 became a researcher/reporter for Bernard Braden’s consumer programme, Braden’s Week.
When Bernard Braden went back to Canada, in 1973 Esther became the producer/presenter of the consumer programme That’s Life! which ran for 21 years, and drew audiences of over 18 million. It achieved fame, (and notoriety) for its talking dogs, Jobsworth Awards and campaigns on behalf of abused children, organ transplants, safe playgrounds, hospital patients and to provide justice for consumers. She also created the documentary series The Big Time which discovered singer Sheena Easton, invented the Children of Courage segment of Children in Need, and Hearts of Gold which ran for seven years, honouring unsung heroes and heroines.
For seven years she presented her daily talk show “Esther” on BBC2, and “That’s Esther” on ITV (with co-presenters Lara Masters and Heather Mills). She has made a number of pioneering programmes on child birth, mental health, drug abuse, and child abuse (in the campaigning series of programmes, Childwatch). In 1986 she invented the concept of ChildLine, (the children’s helpline which was launched on Childwatch), which she then chaired for twenty years. She is currently President of ChildLine, is a trained volunteer counsellor, and is a Trustee of the NSPCC since its merger with ChildLine in 2005. She is a Patron of a number of other charities including the Red Balloon to recover bullied children, and she helped to found the Association of Young People with ME, of which she is President.
She has now invented the concept of a new helpline for older people, The Silver Line, to provide advice, information and a befriending service. She is Chair of the Board of Trustees.
She has received a number of awards, including the OBE for services to broadcasting, and the DBE for services to children. She received the Royal Television Society’s Special Judges Award for Journalism, and was received into their Hall of Fame. In addition she received the Dimbleby award from BAFTA, (the first woman to receive it), the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television, the Snowdon award for services to disabled people, has 6 honorary doctorates and has been made an honorary Fellow of Somerville College. She has appeared in Strictly Come Dancing for the BBC, and the jungle for ITV. Recently she stood at the 2010 General Election as an Independent candidate for Luton South.
In 2011 she published her book “Running Out of Tears” (The Robson Press) to celebrate ChildLine’s 25th Anniversary.
Erin Pizzey was born on 19th February 1939, she is a campaigner, activist and International author. Erin opened the first Women’s refuge in 1971, for almost 50 years she has been fighting to educate people to understand that Domestic Violence is not a gendered issue.
She was educated at Lewiston Manor, Sherborne Dorset & has five grandchildren and four great grandchildren, in her spare time she likes to read, write, cook, collect antiques, play the violin & the odd bit of gardening when not travelling!
She is an Harper Collins International author, published poet, playwright & International founder of refuges for battered women and children.
- 1979: Lunch of honour on Capital Hill sponsored by Congresswoman Lindy Boggs and Congressman Newton-Steer.
- 1978: Invited by Mental Health Association of New Zealand to give lecture tour.
- 1979: Resident expert on family violence on ‘Phil Donahue Show.’
- 1984: Gave evidence in Texas to President Reagan’s Attorney General’s Task Force on Family Violence.
- Guest of honour in Rome at conference of International Supreme Court Judges.
- 1997: Three year grant from The Royal Literary Fund for ‘work of literary merit.’
- 1997: Invited by the German government to Berlin to speak and to show my film. ‘Scream Quietly Or TheNeighbours will Hear’
- 1998: Patron of ‘Care and Comfort Romania,’ a program to build day care centres for children and old people.
- Six week speaking tour of Canada with Senator Ann Cools speaking to men’s groups about the need for non-gendered refuges.
- 2001: Helped fund and open a Health Care Centre at Wandsworth Prison.
- 2002: Invitation to speak in Bermuda.
- 2004: Patron of ManKind a charity devoted to men’s issues.
- 2004: Invitation to Buckingham Palace ‘Women of Achievement’ luncheon.
- 2006: Opened the first refuge in Bahrain for Arab women. Invited to work with Wandsworth to open a day centre and a 250 bed facility for vulnerable prisoners in memory of my grandson Keita Craig. It’ s named The Keita Craig Unit.
- 2008: Invited by the Slovenian Ombudswoman to lecture on domestic violence.
She has received many awards for her charitable work as well as her written materials:
- International Order of Volunteers For Peace, Diploma Of Honour (Italy) 1991.
- Nancy Astor Award for Journalism 1983.
- World Congress of Victimology (San Francisco) 197 – Distinguished Leadership Award.
- St. Valentino Palm d’Oro International Award for Literature, February 14th, 1994, Italy.
- Lifetime Achievement Award.
- National Family Violence.
- Legislative Resource Centre Sacramento conference February 2008.
- Scream Quietly Or The Neighbours Will Hear (first book in the world on wife battering.) 1974.
- Internal Child : An early memoir.
- Slut’s Cookbook 1981.
- Erin Pizzey Collects 1982.
- Prone to violence 1982.
- Suffer Little Children: Photographic book about children and mothers in Chiswick Women’s Aid 2009.
- This way to the Revolution (P Owen Publishers 2011).
- The man in the blue van.
- The Frangipani Tree.
- Addictions, Dancing, Sand.
Films & Documentaries
- Scream Quietly or The Neighbours Will Hear.
- Chiswick Women’s Aid – A teaching film.
- That Awful Woman, work in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- Cutting Edge – C4
- SANCTUARY – BBC2
- Who’s Failing the Family. Counterblast.
Also Contributed to: The New Statesman, Sunday Times Cosmopolitan. Various journals and newspapers internationally and completed two world tours lecturing on domestic violence and helping set up refuges across the world.