The first chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society
A Biography - Written in 2001
John Richards spent most of his working life in journalism - about three quarters of it as a reporter and the remaining quarter as a sub editor. His task in the latter job was to prepare reporters’ copy for insertion into the paper. This involved tightening the story if it needed it, changing clumsy phrasing and cutting to length (each story is fitted into a page rather like a jigsaw). An important part, however, was correcting grammatical errors and, in particular, adding, deleting or moving apostrophes. It constantly amazed him how often reporters, especially the younger ones, seemed to have no idea of the correct use of this very useful little device.
When John retired, this irritation didn’t disappear but became even more obvious. Everywhere he went he saw the same mistakes over and over again until he decided that he could no longer ignore it. So he formed the Apostrophe Protection Society in the hope that he would find half a dozen like-minded people. He takes up the story: "I didn’t find half a dozen people. Instead, within a month of my plaint appearing in a national newspaper, I received over 500 letters of support, not only from all corners of the United Kingdom, but also from America, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada!"
John Hale - original APS webmaster
A short account of his involvement in the APS and the evolution of the first website
Having just retired from 31 years of making television and radio programmes for the BBC in London, in 2000 John Hale saw an article in The Daily Telegraph about the newly formed Apostrophe Protection Society and its self-appointed Chairman, John Richards.
Following research, and being interested in the correct use of punctuation himself, John discovered that the APS had no website so he contacted John Richards who confirmed that, as yet, there wasn’t one.
As a designer of websites, John Hale offered to build one, an offer readily accepted by John Richards, and it was launched a short while later in June 2001. The popular and much visited site changed and matured through the following 20 years until the untimely death of John Richards in March 2021, after which the APS and its website were given a new lease of life by its current owner, Bob McCalden.