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cumbria24.com is proud to launch a new service for blind and partially sighted people. The Talking Messenger charity is coming full circle, 14 years after the organisation was set up to provide an audio version of the Westmorland Messenger it returns to the Eden Valley Messenger, produced by cumbria24.
“It all started in February, 1998, when a short article in the Messenger asked if anybody was interested in producing a taped version of the paper to aid the blind and partially-sighted within its readership area,” explained Stan Rooke, chairman of The Talking Messenger.
Five people turned up to an initial meeting, including Stan, who admitted to being "slow off the mark" when the attendees volunteered for various tasks. The only job left when it came to his turn was the chairman's post.
Eight months of fund-raising followed. Several local organisations, businesses and individuals donated sufficient funds to purchase some basic recording and copying equipment and an Appleby businessman provided accommodation for a "recording studio" free of charge — and the project was up and running.
There were three "readers" and 13 listeners at this stage, but this quickly rose to 24, then to 48 and listeners now number are now in their 100s. Tapes were sent free of charge if resident with the EU, courtesy of a concession by the postal authorities.
As the number of recipients grew, so did Stan’s team of volunteers. The weekly news collections were replaced by other initiatives. Now regularly available on CDs and memory sticks, Talking Messenger records three magazines per month.
"One-off" requests have also been accommodated and several books have been recorded. In each case permission must be obtained from the original author/publisher and it must be confirmed that the book or periodical is not already available via this medium. So far, nobody has refused to allow the recording.
Today the Talking Messenger charity record three publications every month; Best of British, Cumbria Magazine and Down Your Way. And from this week you will be able to access them via cumbria24’s new Access 24 section and our iTune’s podcast.
From tape, to CD, to memory sticks and now online via cumbria24.com the home of the Eden Valley Messenger.