Long-serving volunteer duo retire - can you replace them?

PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 May 2014

John and Dee Hess

John and Dee Hess


A STALWART volunteer who dedicated nearly 30 years to delivering news to visually-impaired people across North Somerset has retired.

John Hess has been the mainstay of Woodspring Talking News (WTN) since it launched in 1985.

The group provides voice recordings of news from the Mercury and sister title the North Somerset Times to more than 180 regular listeners with sight problems.

Along with support from wife Dee, John has guided the organisation through a raft of changes, not least on the technological front; only a few years ago, news was sent out on cassette tapes, and only recently was that process replaced by recording to digital memory sticks.

WTN relies on almost 30 volunteers to read, edit, record and copy the 
news, receiving ‘many plaudits’ for the quality and production of the finished recordings.

A group spokesman said: “John would be the first to say that the volunteers are the main reason for the success of WTN but, truth to tell, it’s John who’s always been the driving force that ensures the memory stick recordings arrive through listeners’ letterboxes every week.”

John and Dee – who has clocked up 22 years with WTN herself – informed WTN members of their decision to step down at the group’s recent AGM.

They were presented with an engraved memento, a bouquet of flowers, and have each been named WTN life presidents.

Long-serving vice-chairman Adrienne Parrott also stepped down, leaving the group in the hands of new chairman Tony Lay, vice-chairman Peter Barrington and treasurer Sue Kelly.

Tony said: “It will be extremely hard to follow in John’s footsteps, but everyone in WTN is committed to continuing his good work and striving to keep providing a quality product to all the listeners.

“And, we are always on the lookout for more volunteers so, if there’s anyone out there who would like to donate a couple of hours every four or five weeks, more especially as readers or editors, they would be made most welcome.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Tony on 01934 813530.

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