Calderdale Talking Newspaper celebrates 40th anniversary with the Mayor of Calderdale

The charity has been keeping blind and visually impaired members of the community in the loop since 1979.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Dot Foster visited the Calderdale Talking Newspaper at their HQ at the Halifax Society for the Blind yesterday to congratulate them for forty years of service.

Calderdale Talking Newspaper Association 40th anniversary. Cutting the cake, from the left, Mayor of Calderdale councillor Dot Foster, reader Jennifer Pell, reader and chairman Roger Simpson, technician Dave Wozencroft, listener Dorothy Barker and Nigel Sutcliffe. Photo by Jim Fitton.

Calderdale Talking Newspaper Association 40th anniversary. Cutting the cake, from the left, Mayor of Calderdale councillor Dot Foster, reader Jennifer Pell, reader and chairman Roger Simpson, technician Dave Wozencroft, listener Dorothy Barker and Nigel Sutcliffe. Photo by Jim Fitton.

The charity recently issued their 1580th weekly edition. Their team of 50 volunteers record stories from the Halifax Courier, Brighouse Echo, Hebden Bridge Times, Todmorden News and Yorkshire Post.

The group download recordings of news stories onto an USB and post it out to service users free of charge.

Coun Foster said: "It's incredibly important to have a resource like this, it's a way of connecting people with the outside world that might not be there at all otherwise.

"One of the problems when you lose a vital sense is that your communication with others can reduce and that can lead to isolation and loneliness. But charities like the Talking Newspaper are helping to tackle this and help people to maintain a connection with others."

Calderdale Talking Newspaper Association 40th anniversary. reader Jennifer Pell, left, and chairman and reader Roger Simpson. Photo by Jim Fitton.

Calderdale Talking Newspaper Association 40th anniversary. reader Jennifer Pell, left, and chairman and reader Roger Simpson. Photo by Jim Fitton.

Roger Simpson is the chair of the Talking Newspaper, he is also edits the sports section.

"It keeps people in touch and gives them an interest. People also get a bit of company from it, as we're aware that a lot of our listeners live alone," said Mr Simpson.

Jennifer Pell has volunteered as a reader for the charity since its beginning.

"One thing that really made me feel like I was doing something worth while was getting recognised by a listener. I was helping a blind chap cross the road and he recognised my voice.

"We live in a lovely area and its treated me well over the years, so I think it's really important to put something back into the community," said Mrs Pell.

The Calderdale Talking Newspaper currently supply nearly 200 people with news every week. Dorothy Barker has received a copy of the Talking Newspaper every week for four years.

"It's like having a load of friends come through the letter box. It's a lovely treat for the weekend that makes the world of difference when you live alone.

"I still buy the Halifax Courier, but I'm only able to read the headlines. I listen to the Talking Newspaper to fill in the gaps," said Mrs Barker.

Technician Dave Wozencroft said : "When the charity first started out, there was only one technician, Stuart McArthur. My dad was the first treasurer of the organisation and he asked me to learn how to use the equipment, so that I could cover for Stuart if he wasn't free.

"We make sure that each story is on a new track, so people can skip stories they're not interested or go back if they want to catch a detail like a phone number or a name."

"We're always looking for volunteers to read and help with the admin, as we get more listeners we need more help running the paper," said Mr Simpson.

There are over 900 registered blind people in Calderdale, with numbers forecasted to increase due to the ageing population and a rise in conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

In the new year the charity hopes to reach more listeners, recruit more volunteers and upgrade their equipment.

If you would like to volunteer at the Calderdale Talking Newspaper get in touch at calderdale.talking.newspaper@gmail.com or call 0798 3888 408.