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Roberts, Eirlys (1911—)

Roberts, Eirlys (1911—)

English consumer activist. Born in London, England, in 1911; daughter of a doctor; attended Clapham High School in London; earned a Classics degree from Girton College, Cambridge; married John Cullen, in 1941.

Born the daughter of a London doctor in 1911, Eirlys Roberts made her mark on European society by campaigning for consumer reform. She began her career as a sub-editor for the Amalgamated Press, and moved into military and political intelligence in the mid-1940s. After taking part in a United Nations Mission to Albania from 1945 to 1947, she settled into a job in the Information Division of the Treasury.

Roberts founded the Consumers' Association in 1957, heading up the research and editorial division, and creating the pioneer publication Which? in 1961. Through Which?, Roberts advocated greater safety and efficiency standards for products as well as public accountability. The accessible style of the journal and the detailed product reports she included made it a success, with a circulation of seven million. In addition to her efforts in these arenas, she served as part-time director of the Bureau of European Consumer Organizations, based in Brussels (1973–78); chair of the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs; and chair of the Environment and Consumer Protection sub-committee of the European Economic Community. For her service, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1971 and was made Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) six years later.

Brenda Kubiac , freelance writer, Chesterfield, Michigan

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