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Press Release: 40th Anniversary

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Each week thousands of people read the Witney Gazette – but there are many West Oxfordshire residents who can’t because they suffer from loss of eyesight.

So each week a team of committed volunteers meets up in the Witney Methodist Church to record a one-hour programme drawn largely from the current Witney Gazette of news and items of interest. Also included are articles from the Faringdon Folly and Chipping Norton News, reports on local sport, a short quiz, Notice Board, the Editor’s choice of article and a short Reflections item. They also produce
two special audio magazines each year.

Chairman Peter Brading was a young man in 1978 when he happened to meet up with someone on the train from London who was setting up a Talking News service in the Hereford area. Peter was so impressed he vowed to try and do the same thing for West Oxfordshire and became the first Chairman of Witney Talking News. He was a member of Witney Round Table and they very generously raised £4,500 to enable the group to purchase essential recording equipment and audio tapes. The initial recordings were done in the offices of Cleartype Agency in Witney, but they soon moved to Witney Town Hall where the Town Council kindly allowed free use of rooms for recording to take place – and so the service was born and has been in operation continuously ever since. The weekly recordings are currently carried out at the High Street Methodist Church, Witney, where they moved to in 2011.

Peter Brading has been continuously involved with the charity and has been the Chairman again since 2010. Peter said “It’s very important to the listeners we have – our numbers are currently around 80. They really appreciate the service that we provide. It makes them feel connected and informed about the local news and events. I hope we can keep going for another 40 years.” The service went digital in 2010 so now listeners receive a memory stick to plug into the special listening service which the Talking News provides free of charge. Mike Grantham who has been blind since the age of 11 and is the charity’s blind representative said “It’s very important and interesting, because it does more than the local radio and gives more detail about what’s going on in West Oxfordshire. I always look forward to
receiving the memory stick.”

The Witney Talking News is keen to make itself known as widely as possible, so if you are having difficulty reading newspapers, or know of someone who might benefit from this excellent free service, please contact: 01993 444 986 or see our website for further information. The service and postage is completely free of charge. The Witney Talking News volunteers and listeners will celebrate this milestone with a party on Friday 29 March – at which it is hoped Robert Courts MP will make an appearance. This has been made possible with the generous main sponsorship by Richmond Witney, and other sponsors include Witney 41 Club, Witney Round Table, Witney Town Council, Specsavers and A Plan Carterton.

Debi Lisburne Diacon
Publicity Officer, Witney Talking News

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