Talking News in search of a new home in Weston-super-Mare

PUBLISHED: 12:02 11 October 2016

Adrienne Parrott, John Hess and Pam Linham recording the latest edition.

Adrienne Parrott, John Hess and Pam Linham recording the latest edition.

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The Woodspring Talking News - a voluntary organisation which records audio versions of newspapers for blind people in North Somerset - is searching for a new home, as it looks like its current base could close.

Tony Lay with MP John Penrose and guests.Tony Lay with MP John Penrose and guests.

Woodspring Talking News has been recording the Mercury and its sister title the North Somerset Times for 30 years, providing weekly instalments of news to people who cannot read it themselves.

The Talking News recorded 1,500th weekly edition of news from the Mercury last year, but it is now in search of a new base.

The organisation is based at The Lauriston Hotel, in Knightstone Road, which operates as a specialist hotel for the blind.

But financial difficulties mean The Lauriston Hotel could close, meaning the the talking news volunteers are in search of a new home.

The group’s chairman, Tony Lay, said it needs a room which is around 25ft by 13ft.

He added: “We must be able to record something without any extraneous noise – that’s what we are concerned about at the moment.

“The buildings we have been offered either have caretakers who are not available all the time or the buildings would have other meetings happening at the same time where people are making noise that we could not filter out.”

The talking news has a team of 48 volunteers who send out memory sticks with news recordings on to 186 people in the district each week.

Mr Lay said: “We have five teams who work in a rota, in each team there are three readers and we have about four reserve readers at the moment.

“We have been providing this service every week for the past 30 years.

“It’s something we want to keep doing if we can – but we need the kind of space to house the readers and the recorders.”

The Lauriston Hotel is run by Action For Blind People (AFBP), but the charity says it can no longer afford to keep it open as it needs to be subsidised and repaired during the next three years.

An AFBP spokesman said keeping it open would mean diverting funds from other areas.

They said: “We have decided that this would not be in the best interest of blind and partially-sighted people or the most effective use of the limited resources available to us.”

The Woodspring Talking News meets every Friday from 5-7pm. Most of its volunteers live in the centre of Weston, so it is looking for a new home near to its current base. The group has all of its own equipment, so simply needs a space to use. Anyone who is able to help should call 01934 811001.

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