THE Voice of Progress, the talking newspaper for the blind and partially sighted in Littlehampton and Worthing, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Just last week, the charity reached another milestone, when it produced its 1,000th edition from its studio, behind Rustington Hall, in Station Road, Rustington.
Since it was started in 1975 by Nick Hare and Littlehampton Rotary Club, The Voice of Progress has grown to serve Worthing, too.
Teams of readers record 40 minutes of news from the Littlehampton Gazette and Worthing Herald.
A further 40 minutes of magazine articles are added, produced by the team going out and interviewing people in the community.
Director Charles Waring explained: “With the magazine concept, we are creating our own copy. It is very interesting and great fun to do. It is nerve-wracking, even though we are not live, but it is amazing and we get some really good material.”
The volunteers are the backbone of the VOP but we are always looking out for moreDirector Charles Waring
The recordings go out to around 300 people on either a CD or cassette tape, all for free, and the whole production is run by volunteers.
Mr Waring said: “The volunteers are the backbone of the VOP but we are always looking out for more – people with a few hours to spare every month who feel they have a good radio voice and are creative, or people with technical and computing skills to operate our sound equipment.
“We are so lucky to have our own studio, which was given to us by Billy Butlin.”
Since he took over as director in 2011, Mr Waring has introduced a system using the Herald and Gazette’s digital editions and screenshots, rather than cutting out articles from the newspapers, which has saved about 25 per cent of the editors’ time.
He accepts there are more changes ahead, as the charity looks to adapt to changing technology and the way people access information.
“The news is changing and we are going to have to go along with that,” he explained. “This is something that we are going to get to grips with and confront, and we are already talking about how we are going to do it.
“One day, we will move on to USB, as about 80 per cent of Talking News groups have done, and also find ways to use social media.”
Visit www.voiceofprogress.co.uk for more information.