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Talking newspaper volunteer hangs up headphones

A long-standing volunteer on a talking newspaper is hanging up his headphones after 25 years’ service.

Brian Saunders, left, delivered his last round up for the Black Country Talking Newspaper this week after starting there in 1988.

The 75-year-old joked that he was “roped in” to the job when he took his son to the base at Wordsley in the West Midlands to see how the paper was put together.

He has dedicated a quarter of a century to sourcing and recording news onto CDs for people in the area who are blind or partially sighted.

Brian told the Stourbridge News that he “never looked back” and soon became “part of the furniture” at the Mary Stevens Centre, Oldswinford, when the paper relocated in 1996.

As well as reading out the news, Brian spent hours trawling through local newspapers to find articles suitable for the 25 minute news slot, paying particular attention to stories that related to people with sight loss.

Armed with cuttings, he would arrive at the centre every Wednesday to record and help copy hundreds of CDs, ready to be sent out to listeners.

Brian told the paper that his role was “demanding but worthwhile”.

“We get a lot of feedback from listeners who really enjoy want we do. To some, it’s a lifeline and that’s where I get my gratification,” he said.

“I’m 75 now and things aren’t getting any easier. I will still continue to volunteer but not until after Easter, I’ll have a rest and then look for something that isn’t so demanding.

“I will still pop in from time to time to see everyone, they are a wonderful team to work with and I will miss them all.”

Team co-ordinator Claire Bayley said Brian’s departure would leave a big gap in the team.

“Brian is really hands on and loyal. We were shocked when he told us he was retiring because he is part of the furniture,” she said.

The team are now looking for more volunteers, who would be available on Tuesday and Wednesdays, to take over Brian’s duties.

For more information call 01384 440333