Tuesday, 16 August 2022

35th annual meeting of Talking Newspapers

35th annual meeting of Talking Newspapers

THE association’s 35th annual meeting took place on Saturday, May 13 and this is chairman Richard Hodgkin’s report:

“Firstly, I would like to say a big thank-you to our committee and all our volunteers who now include 33 readers and four controllers, all of whom have helped us to complete another year without one week’s break.

This now makes more than 1,820 weeks in a row without interruption since we were founded 35 years ago.

We have a really good group of volunteers working for the charity and it always gives me great satisfaction when I occasionally hear some of our listeners saying how much they enjoy our weekly recordings. So thank you to you all.

I am sorry to report that over the past 12 months we have again seen a steady reduction in the number of our listeners and we now send out 50 recordings each week, a net reduction of five over the year.

This does, however, include six local nursing and care homes, Wallingford Community Hospital and Sue Ryder and if we estimate that, say, 10 people per organisation listen to the recordings, it could add about another 80 people to those benefiting from what we do.

I am aware that other Talking Newspapers around the country are also losing listeners and indeed some have closed. Our committee has discussed this at length and the general feeling is that a major factor for the decline is that visually impaired people have access to much-improved technology these days and are able to obtain far more information from the internet.

However, we do feel there must be more people in our community who would enjoy hearing our weekly recordings so if you know of anyone who may fit our criteria please introduce them to me.

I would add that we do not only offer this service to visually impaired people but also to anyone else who cannot read for themselves for any other reason and indeed we do already have a few people in this category.

It is just over a year now since we moved into our new room in the rebuilt Townlands Hospital and this has proved to be ideal for our requirements.

I would like to say thank- you to the hospital for letting us use the new Maurice Tate room, especially as it is free of charge! We are still one controller short, which does occasionally put a strain on our resources, especially in the summer holiday season, but, as previously mentioned, we have managed to cope... just!

Thanks go to Nick Fairbrother for his organisation of our rota of readers and controllers. He does a great job in chasing everyone up a few weeks before a new rota, asking for dates that they cannot do over the next three to four months.

Then he collates all the returns and produces the rota. I don’t know how you do it, Nick, but thank you.

Over the past couple of years I have had three prospective new controllers that I have started to train but unfortunately all of them have fallen by the wayside.

I do now have another person lined up to become a fifth controller who will start training soon and I am very hopeful this time.

Yet again, the Henley Standard has provided us with early copies of the paper each week and The Henley College has continued to collect all returned wallets and memory sticks which the controller collects each Thursday morning.

So a big thank-you to them both. They are really very much appreciated.

I would like to thank Martin Whittaker for looking after our equipment so well. We have had a few hiccups with our computers and cables recently, which he has now dealt with. Fingers crossed, we are well placed for the next 12 months.

Finally, I would like to say thank you to our loyal listeners. The feedback we get is always very positive and all the controllers and readers get a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that our recordings of the Henley Standard are much appreciated.

So yet again we have had a busy and rewarding year. We have an excellent group of volunteers who turn out week after week no matter what the weather may be.

We can therefore look forward to another year with confidence that all is in good order and that we have a very good system in place to provide a quality service to our ‘clients’.”

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