News service has long-term vision
YOU look at them as 'payback' moments. No money changes hands, but every now and again you get to savour the moment when it really does pay to be a volunteer.
There was one such moment earlier last month. Seated in a pew in a packed St Mary's Church in Burry Port before the beginning of the funeral of the Very Rev Kerry Goulstone, the partially-sighted lady next door struck up a conversation.
It wasn't long before the talk turned to the Llanelli and District Talking Newspaper for the Blind.
"I thought I recognised your voice," the lady said. "I hear you on the talking newspaper. Oh, how I look forward to getting a copy of the talking newspaper every other week. It really is a window on the world for those of us with failed sight who cannot read newspapers."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The generous appreciation for the talking newspaper service continued for several moments.
The setting may have seemed strange to some, but in many ways it was entirely appropriate as one of the most sterling supporters of the service in Llanelli was the late Kerry Goulstone.
There is a very black joke which the secretary of the Llanelli and District Talking Newspaper, John C Williams MBE, is fond of repeating at regular intervals during the year.
"No-one is allowed to resign from the Llanelli Talking Newspaper," he says.
"You might get sacked, but death is usually the only reason for not attending recording sessions."
Kerry's 'resignation' from the talking newspaper team came just a few days after he had contributed to a recording session at our state-of-the-art studio in Llanelli.
Like all other members who have 'resigned' down the years, his contribution to the service will be greatly missed.
Our search for volunteers to replace the likes of Kerry continues and we are always on the look-out for individuals who can help.
News readers, editors, technical directors and technicians — we have jobs to fit lots of different profiles.
But it's worth setting the scene and explaining what the talking newspaper service is all about.
The Llanelli and District Talking Newspaper Association was founded during 1976, with the first edition being issued to nine listeners in December of that year.
The inspiration and driving force behind the project was Harold Owen, manager of a painting and decorating shop in Stepney Street.
At the age of 25, Harold had become blind, and attended a rehabilitation centre in Torquay, where newly-blind people could learn to take care of themselves, to move about, and train for suitable employment.
On his return to Llanelli, while working for Llanelli Borough Council, Harold had got to know many of the leading figures in civic life, particularly Selwyn Samuel OBE.
Mr Samuel was impressed by Harold's enthusiasm, and agreed to assist in establishing a talking newspaper service for Llanelli and district.
He persuaded the mayor, Joie Davies, to sponsor an appeal for funds to purchase recording equipment — raising around £8,000.
A small team was recruited, comprising Councillor Joie Davies as chairwoman, Harold Owens as vice- chairman, Selwyn Samuel as secretary, journalist Harry Davies as editor, and Colin Morgan as recording engineer.
The first edition was recorded at Bryntirion Hospital in Swansea Road, on equipment belonging to G Rees, who was at that time providing a service to hospital patients.
Current Talking Newspaper secretary John Williams said: "The sound quality and content of that first edition was disappointing to say the least, but worse was to follow.
"Having spent many hours in bitterly cold weather with members of Llanelli Lions Club raising funds for the talking newspaper in the week before Christmas, Harold sustained a fatal heart attack at the age of only 49.
"This catastrophic event could have derailed the project, but it is testimony to Harold's incredible drive and enthusiasm that it was decided to continue.
"He would surely be very proud that to date, after some 37 years, and 940 fortnightly editions, the Llanelli Talking Newspaper continues to serve some 200 blind and visually-handicapped listeners.
"After the early recordings were made at Bryntirion Hospital, and following purchase of recording equipment, recordings were made at the town council offices until January 1979, when the operation was transferred to the premises of Llanelli YMCA in Stepney Street, where it remained until moving, in 1995, to a nearby purpose-built recording studio.
"During those early years following 1976, the association's income was derived from its annual flag-day collection, and casual and unsolicited donations, many coming from local organisations, clubs, societies, and churches and chapels.
"Flag day collections ceased in 1999, but the association is in a good financial situation due to unsolicited donations from listeners, many representing donations in lieu of floral tributes at the funerals of former listeners, and to a small number of legacies."