For more than four decades, Thursdays have been the designated ‘recording day’ for a team of volunteers who produce a free audio newspaper for blind and visually impaired residents in the borough.
The Epsom and Ewell Talking Newspaper (EETN) the Charity visited earlier this year by Mayor Councillor John Beckett, is proud of its 46 year track record of 2275 weekly recordings.
But in a letter to its Listeners and volunteer team, Chairman Judy Sarssam expressed her sadness at its temporary suspension.
“In this unprecedented situation of lockdown due to the spread of the Coronavirus it has been impossible for the volunteers of the Epsom and Ewell Talking Newspaper to continue to record and distribute our weekly free service to over one hundred visually impaired people in the area.
We are devastated as in 46 years, apart from one week at Christmas, and one day of heavy snow, we have always been able to give access to local news, magazine articles, poems, jokes and podcasts to our eager Listeners.”
Judy went on to explain that whilst recording was still possible, it required volunteers to travel to the Epsom studio, not only to make the recording, but to duplicate, pack and distribute the memory sticks to one hundred and six registered Listeners.
“Digital technology has really come into its own during the lockdown”, she said, “however using it efficiently does rely on residual vision expertise and patience.
So despite everything on offer it is still most practical for our Listeners to receive their memory sticks once a week to play in the small, simple players that we provide
Back in February, during his interview with EETN, Cllr Beckett emphasised how much he valued the free Talking Newspaper service and fondly recalled his Aunt looking forward to receiving it every week. “I remember how much it meant to her and will mean to all your listeners,” he said. Judy, herself visually impaired, agreed with the Mayor, explaining that prior to becoming an EETN Committee Member and subsequently the Chairman, she was originally, and still is, a very enthusiastic Listener.
“During this unprecedented crisis I want to re-assure all EETN Listeners that normal service will be resumed as soon as it is safe to do so. Until then I urge everyone to keep safe and send good wishes to all our valued Listeners, Volunteers and the wider community,” she said.