Talking newspaper is a ‘lifeline’ to the blind and partially sighted

LIFELINE Left, Tim Gudgin and Keith Stoneham who are volunteers for Havant Talking Newspapers
LIFELINE Left, Tim Gudgin and Keith Stoneham who are volunteers for Havant Talking Newspapers

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FOR many it’s a lifeline to the outside world, capturing snippets of news they may otherwise never hear about.

Havant Talking Newspapers is a unique charity which is used by at least 200 blind or partially sighted residents in Havant and the surrounding area.

Every fortnight an hour-long recording is made of news stories, taken mostly from The News, and delivered to people around the area.

But it takes scores of volunteers to edit, produce and record the talking newspaper and, because the charity has no government funding, it relies on donations.

Ahead of National Talking Newspaper Week, beginning September 8, chairman Keith Stoneham is calling on the public to show its support to the charity.

He said: ‘We were founded in 1993 because Chichester and Portsmouth both had talking newspapers and we felt there was a sufficient need to start one up in Havant.

‘We will be coming up to our 20th anniversary next year.

‘For the most part our readers are elderly and living alone with sight problems and can’t read a newspaper or anything else and to have a news recording keeps them in touch with the outside world.

‘I also go round and visit the people who use the service and they think it’s very, very good and they seem to appreciate it.’

The former BBC football results announcer Tim Gudgin also volunteers at the East Street recording studios, putting his talents to good use as an engineer.

News is now provided on memory sticks as well as cassette tapes.

Unlike CDs both can be rerecorded, saving money.

As well as stories from The News, volunteers also make recorded versions of the Guinness Hermitage housing association newsletter twice a year.

Mike Absalom has recently started taking the talking newspaper.

The 86-year-old former Royal Marine, of East Street, said: ‘I belong to an Out of Focus group and the other members explained that it was quite a good medium to pick up news.

‘I began using it about six months ago and it’s pretty good. It covers ground that you would not get if you can’t read so I think it’s pretty good.’

It costs £4,000 a year to run the charity.

Recently Waitrose, in Havant, donated £350 from its good causes fund.

Havant Talking Newspapers is always looking for new volunteers and donations.

If you think you can help or would like to subscribe, call (023) 9248 101.