‘Talking news’ service for Adur closes after 40 years

A volunteer-led service which records readings of Herald articles for the blind and partially sighted has closed down in the same year that it celebrates its 40th birthday.

Adur Talking News has decided to fold after four decades of sending out weekly 80 minute long news CDs because of falling numbers of listeners.

Volunteers Paula Gough, Claire Woolford, Angela Miller and Steve Rodway

Volunteers Paula Gough, Claire Woolford, Angela Miller and Steve Rodway

Chairman Ann Simmons, who lives in Southwick, said that due to new assisted technologies, fewer and fewer people required the service, adding that it was ‘fantastic’ that people with sight loss are now able to access news themselves.

The charity began in 1976 at Shoreham Grammar School – now Shoreham College – as a project for the boys’ electronics club and has been housed at the Shoreham Centre for the past few months.

The service, which once had more than 200 listeners, including one former Adur resident who continued to order copies after moving to Wales, now delivers recordings to around 30 people.

Most are elderly and unable to use new computer technologies, said Mrs Simmons.

Volunteers Ann Taylor, Stuart Gray, Sheila Geere, Barbara Fisher

Volunteers Ann Taylor, Stuart Gray, Sheila Geere, Barbara Fisher

The 78-year-old, who got involved after retiring from her job at BT and became chairman in 1992, is one of 45 volunteers involved in the service.

Some have volunteered for more than 30 years and one is 84 years old.

Kirstie Thomas, an outreach worker for the charity 4Sight which has helped promote the service, said: “It’s a credit to Adur Talking News to be able to maintain that number of volunteers.

“It just blows me away – they are so committed.”

She said the appeal of volunteering came from it being ‘a practical way to help someone with sight loss’.

Volunteers were split into teams of four and took it in turns to come into the studio in Shoreham on Tuesday evenings with articles from the paper to read.

Colin Major, of Church Street, who has volunteered on the technical side of the service for five years, said many volunteers and listeners were sad to see the service close, adding that the service was important to listeners because it was their ‘only means’ of getting ‘very local news’.

Volunteer Clair Woolford has created a souvenir 40th anniversary edition CD for volunteers and listeners by researching Herald headlines over the past decades and interviewing readers.

Though the news service is closing, the charity 4Sight continues to support the blind and partially sighted by providing advice and assistance.

Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?

It’s packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.

There’s recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.

Go to www.shorehamherald.co.uk/christmas/