Valuable community project Trowbridge Talking News is appealing for more sponsors to help continue running its service recording the Wiltshire Times for visually impaired people.

Formerly known as Trowbridge Tapes for the Blind it was started more than 30 years ago – originally being initiated by the Trowbridge and District Rotary Club.

A group of 20 volunteers run the project, taking turns to read selected articles in the Wiltshire Times, making a master digital memory stick which is then used to prepare about 80 individual memory sticks each week.

These are then distributed to local people and previous residents with impaired vision who like to keep abreast of the news in Trowbridge and the surrounding district.

Geoff Holt, secretary of Trowbridge Talking News, said: “Each member of our small group takes a turn to read the Wiltshire Times and create the master digital memory stick, or to duplicate the digital copies, at their own house.

“Every week the designated ‘dictator’ selects articles from the newspaper to include on the master and every reader has their own way of reading the news.

“Our dictators are local residents and often know someone featured in the news from their schooldays or business life and will add an appropriate comment, which helps to entertain the listener. All of our listeners speak very highly of it and while they can get local news on tv, it tends to focus on Bristol rather than the west Wiltshire area, which is why the Wiltshire Times is more preferable to them.”

Once the copies are duplicated, each copy is sent in a special Velcro pouch and posted to the recipient.

The Post Office distributes the pouches free under an arrangement with the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Talking Newspaper Federation.

When the recipient has listened to the news on the individual digital player, the memory stick is put back in the pouch, the label reversed, and posted back to the project’s base at Trowbridge Information Centre.

Mr Holt added: “We are always looking for more help from local businesses and although we were left a legacy which has funded us so far, we have just had to buy a new laptop and upgrade everything to digital, so more sponsors would be great.”

For more information about how to help or provide support to Trowbridge Talking News, contact Geoff Holt on 01225 762336 or email

An essential to keeping in touch

Users of Trowbridge Talking News are full of praise it and say it is an ideal way to keep in touch with what’s going on in Wiltshire. 

The service – affiliated to The Talking News Federation – records and distributes audio editions of articles from the Wiltshire Times onto about 70 memory sticks each week.

James Witts, 83, below, of Trowbridge, who has macular degeneration, said: “I have been using the service for 10 years as I’m blind in both eyes. The recordings are excellent and they cover most of the paper. 

“I’m always interested in what is going on in the area and my wife will fix up the recording so I can just sit down in peace and quiet and listen to the news. It’s a very valuable service and I can’t thank the volunteers enough.” 

Rachel Carpenter, 23, right below, of Trow-
bridge has been blind since birth because of a rare condition called Anophthalmia and has used the service for more than four years. 

She said: “ It is a fantastic way to keep in touch with what is going on and find out about people I know. They get it out to us quickly which is great as it means I can talk about the news with my mum.”