A PARTIALLY sighted man has told how important a West Devon talking newspaper service is to him and his wife.

Alan Rice was speaking at a gathering of dedicated volunteers who produce the Plymouth and West Devon Talking Newspaper which has been providing a weekly recording of local news, features and discussion since 1976.

The volunteers, comprising sound engineers, readers, presenters and others who ensure the recordings reach about 150 listeners free of charge in the post on memory sticks, rarely meet each other because they work in separate groups. So,they held a cream tea event at Tavistock Methodist Church last week, to learn about each other’s roles and each other personally.

Making a special appearance was guest listener Alan who said the talking newspaper made a big difference to his and his wife’s life. He has a degenerative eye condition which has affected him since he was 18. He said he was close to losing his sight altogether.

The service gave his wife Joan a break from reading items to him and also rejuvenated his learning and curiosity and memories.

Alan, of Tavistock, said: “I want to tell everyone here who so kindly gives up their time to produce the talking newspaper that they are doing a very valuable service that certainly makes a big difference to my life. Firstly I rely on Joan a lot to read papers and magazines to me, so the recordings give her a break. I really look forward to getting the memory stick every week. The discussions are always well chosen and lively and often bring back happy memories for me, while the features are on history, which particularly fascinates me and stimulates me to learn more. It could be so easy to stop doing anything when you can’t see.”

The team of more than 100 produce 40 minutes of news stories from local papers.

30 minutes of entertaining features from regional and national papers and magazines.

10 minutes featuring a topical and sometimes controversial discussion. Monthly audio magazines are also produced.

Chris Dicker, talking newspaper trustees chairman, said: “It’s important that we understand what each other are doing in each tea and get to know each other a little. It’s also very good for our morale to learn what a difference to someone’s life our work makes.”

Plymouth and Tavistock Talking Newspaper volunteers
Plymouth and Tavistock Talking Newspaper volunteers (Tindle)

Anyone wanting to receive the recording or knows of someone who would benefit can contact John Harris on 01822 618 922. Further detail: www.plymouth-westdevontalkingnewspaper.org