In November 2021 we celebrated 40 years of the Lichfield Talking News service – one of our special Club charities. Longstanding volunteer reader for Lichfield Talking News, Angela Reynolds, is founder President of our Club and here she reflects on the “lifeline” service provided to visually-impaired people in Lichfield, and looks forward to our New Year Quiz in aid of the charity.
What we do at Lichfield Talking News
Every Wednesday and Thursday small groups of Lichfield Talking News readers and a back up team record the news content from The Lichfield Mercury and other regional newspapers.
We transfer then this content onto memory sticks and then add to it up to 12 hours of additional material – magazines – read by professional readers. Not that our readers locally are not professional, they just don’t read for a living.
So, after an hour or two we have the weekly Lichfield Mercury on a memory stick together along with the additional magazine content. The magazines, although available to our blind and visually impaired listeners, are copyright protected. They are household names and include such titles as My Weekly, Woman, Amateur Gardening and many more top quality publications.
The memory sticks are then sent out by first class post to our listeners. They listen to the content at their leisure using a computer media player or player supplied by us. They return their memory stick post free to us when they are ready.
How we operate at Lichfield Talking News
It was decided at the outset that our service would be free of charge to the listener. We couldn’t even think about means testing, and we didn’t want anyone to be without it because they could not afford it. So we have raised funds wherever we can to keep it going. The service must last for as long as it is needed – that is , when nobody has sight problems which prevent them from reading !
Over the 40 years we’ve been in operation we have raised and spent over £600,000, but thanks to modern technology our annual outgoings are now less than £10,000.
The two most common phrases we hear are :
“ You are the friends who land on my doormat” and “ You are my lifeline”.
So we cannot and must not stop.
The Soroptimist club of Lichfield & District has been one of our most constant supporters – even though we only just avoid getting the wooden spoon at the annual fundraising quizzes!
A personal perspective
On a personal level I love reading the Talking News on a Thursday evening. It takes about one and a half hours and goes out to Royal Mail as soon as we complete. On the same recording there is a selection of up to a dozen magazines – to suit a variety of interests and hobbies. These are recorded electronically. We work in teams of three.
The recording is contained in a heavy duty yellow plastic envelope. It has a window for a reversible label – on one side the name and address of the recipient and on the other the Talking News office address. When it has been listened to the listener simply has to turn over the label and pop the envelope into a post box. Sometimes we get messages with the returned envelope – usually helpful and expressing thanks. Very occasionally with tips for a reader to improve performance !!
Below is a rather moving poem submitted by one of our older listeners.
Celebrating 40 Years.
A milestone of kindness for people like me,
Who struggle with sight loss so print cannot see.
A weekly commitment by readers who care,
So newspaper knowledge we also can share.
We thus feel included as items we hear,
For your time we are grateful , our thanks are sincere.
Devotion and teamwork as pouches dispatched –
Provides stimulation – A SERVICE UNMATCHED !
2022 SI Lichfield & District Quiz with Fish & Chip Supper
The 2022 fund-raising quiz will take place in March 2022. A fish and chip supper is included in the ticket price of £10 per person. Please note that IF covid-restrictions mean we cannot hold the quiz in person, or that it is inadvisable to do so, we will take it online instead. For more information please contact us.