Hold the front page... founding members of Burnley Talking Newspaper honoured at 45th birthday lunch

An organisation, that has made sure the blind and partially sighted are kept up to date with the latest news in Burnley, has celebrated its 45th anniversary.

By Sue Plunkett
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 3:45 pm

Burnley Talking Newspaper marked the landmark date with a three course lunch at Burnley Football Club.

Around 40 people, including listeners, their spouses and carers, and volunteers were at the lunch. Among them were two of the charity's founder members, Cynthia Morris and Jim Fallon.

Cynthia was presented with an engraved Dartford Crystal water jug and Jim - who didn't want any fuss - was presented with an Argos gift voucher.

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Burnley Talking Newspaper volunteers Alan and Marjorie Dunderdale and Brian Horne preparing the next edition for listeners

The organisation came into being in 1977 when a forward thinking member of the social services, Betty Hindle, realised that although people with visual impairment in neighbouring towns had their own talking newspaper - Pendle Voice in Nelson - Burnley had nothing.

With the help of Douglas Barber from Pendle Voice a pilot scheme was set up and eight people were selected to receive an audio tape which had extracts from the Burnley Express recorded onto it.

It was a success and the fund raising began to purchase more audio cassette players and copying equipment.

The Burnley Express publicised the new service and asked for volunteers and donations. The committee were overwhelmed at the generosity of the public who flooded them with donations and gifts including Burnley Round Table which donated £1,000.

Burnley Talking Newspaper volunteers Alan and Marjorie Dunderdale with Ann Kay and guide dog Dixie receive a cheque from Tesco, one of the organisation's many supporters.

Pupils from the former Walshaw High School raised £200, £40 was donated by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, £50 from The Knights of St. Columba (110 Club) and GPO ladies sold cakes and raised £60.

Over the years the organisation has been supported by the people of Burnley on 'flag days' when volunteers held collecting tins on nearly every street corner of the town centre, in all weathers.

More recently Asda and Tesco have also supported the charity by hosting awareness days.

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Cynthia Morris, one of the founder members of the Burnley Talking Newspaper 45 years ago, was presented with an engraved crystal water jug at the organisation's anniversary lunch.

Changing from audio cassettes to memory sticks cost the organisation around £10,000.

The Freemasons helped with the cost by donating £1,400 to buy a digital copier and Burnley and Padiham rotary clubs helped with the purchase of USB players and memory sticks.

Burnley Talking Newspaper sends out a memory stick each week which has around 45 minutes of extracts from The Burnley Express, around 45 minutes of extracts from magazines such as Lancashire Life, Yours, Evergreen and Best of British and other recordings giving information from RNIB about visual aids and advice for VI.

A USB player is also provided by the organisation. This is a free service for those with a certificate of visual impairment. The talking newspaper managed to continue operating right through the pandemic thanks to some reading teams who recorded in their family 'bubbles.'

There are around 30 volunteers at present who record or duplicate. This takes around two hours every five weeks. During the anniversary lunch chairman Christie Buchanan, thanked the volunteers for returning after Covid-19.

There are currently around 70 listeners who receive memory sticks in the Burnley and Padiham area. If you would like to find out more about receiving Burnley TN or becoming a volunteer please, contact 01282 422984.