18 Jun 2012

Child-protection campaigner Sara Payne receives OU Honorary Doctorate

Honorary graduate Sara Payne

Honorary graduate Sara Payne

Sara Payne, a highly regarded child-protection campaigner, victims' advocate and international bestselling author, has been honoured by The Open University for her exceptional contribution to public services. Inspired by personal tragedy, the death of her daughter Sarah, Sara launched a successful campaign to bring about the Child Sex Offender Disclosure scheme – known as Sarah’s Law – which allows parents to check the criminal records of known sex offenders.

As a voluntary Phoenix Chief Advocate, Sara has worked for over a decade speaking for the victims of paedophile crimes who cannot speak for themselves. She was appointed the first Victims Champion by the government in 2009, delivering the well-received report Rape: The Victim Experience Review for the Ministry Of Justice. Sara is also a bestselling author, publishing Sara Payne: A Mother’s Story and co-writing the ground-breaking book Where Angels Fear. She currently writes for The Phoenix Post. Sara has received many awards, including Most Inspirational, Pride of Britain, Children’s Champion and Woman Of The Year, and was made an MBE in 2009.

Sara Payne said: “This honorary degree from the OU is indeed an honour! It means a great deal to me that my work in victim advocacy and child protection is recognised in this way. There is still a huge amount more to be done to improve victim justice and recovery rates, by challenging failing services and anti-victim prejudice; developing victim support and helping educate the advocates of the future. This is something that I’m tackling, with fellow campaigner Shy Keenan, through The Phoenix Post. I’m very thankful to the OU and tremendously proud to have received this degree.”

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University said: ''I am delighted to welcome Sara Payne as an Honorary Doctor of The Open University. Her exceptional work in the field of child protection, and the huge impact that she has had on victim advocacy, are inspirational and truly outstanding contributions to public services in the UK."

The ceremony took place at Ely Cathedral on Saturday 9 June.

For photography and further information please contact: Paula Feery 01908 652580 /


About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest higher education institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 20,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.

The OU has been highly rated for teaching quality, and has been at the top of student satisfaction rankings in the National Student Survey since it was introduced in 2005. 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

The OU supports a vibrant research portfolio and in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), the University climbed 23 places to 43rd, securing a place in the UK's top 50 higher education institutions.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 21 million visitors, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 50 million downloads. The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Stargazing Live and Protecting Our Children.


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