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About EaRTN
Weekly Cycle of Activities
Monthly Talking Magazine

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Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper

Founded 1975

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Registered Charity No. 803083  Editor: Hugh Reid
About Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper
Photo of Christopher Gilroy, Chairman, who is blind
Chairman of Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper

The Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper Association (EaRTN) is a free service providing recorded digests of local newspapers as well as other topics of interest on audio cassette for visually impaired people or those who are unable to read for themselves.

EaRTN produces a Weekly News digest taken from the various editions of "Surrey Herald" and "News and Mail" groups of newspapers in Elmbridge and Runnymede; a Monthly Magazine which contains items of general interest rather than local news.
Currently over 150 people receive EaRTN. The annual circulation of the 90-minute audiocassettes is more than 15,000.

Mayors of Elmbridge & Runneymede with EaRTN Volunteers


The picture above was taken on the occasion of the presentation to EARTN by the Mayors of our two boroughs of a certificate in recognition of our 1,500th issue, and shows from the left Councillor Carol Jones, Mayor of Runnymede, EARTN members John Dickson, Mary Cobham, Anne Prevost, Editor Hugh Read, Sid Stone, Chairman Heinz Vogel and Councillor Martin Schofield Mayor of Elmbridge.

When the Talking Newspaper Association of the UK was formed in 1974, the Rotary Club of Weybridge and Byfleet decided to start a talking newspaper for blind and partially sighted people in the area. Hospital Radio Wey offered to join the project by providing recordings of their Friday evening News Digest, so resolving the problem of the news side production of the proposed 90-minute cassette. Side two was to be a magazine.
The Thames Valley Talking Newspaper (TVTN), as it then was, first reached 35 listeners in the Weybridge and Byfleet area on 21st December 1975. The early cassettes were edited and copied on Sunday mornings on a single machine in the home of Pat Cole, of Radio Wey, for more than two years.
In June 1976 Walton Rotary joined the project, bringing 40 more listeners. TVTN grew in strength, with Esher Rotary joining in May 1977 and Chertsey Rotary following in 1987. As word spread so TVTN increased its weekly circulation, and by the end of 1990 reached more than 200 blind and visually impaired people in the boroughs of Elmbridge and Runnymede.
In 1995 it was decided to take over Side One and speed up the weekly cycle, so that the news could be recorded on Thursdays, enabling listeners to receive their weekly cassette on Saturday rather than the Tuesday the following week, as was inevitable under the then current arrangement. An appeal therefore went out for volunteers, to take on the much bigger task of editing, reading and recording the weekly news from the local newspapers. With the help of a feature article in the Surrey Herald, some 50 people quickly answered the call and TVTN's own first news (on side two) reached its listeners by April1997, though still alongside Radio Wey on Side One. The re-launch was completed by November, when TVTN finally took responsibility for Side One and the new, Saturday morning, weekly all-news cassette started - under the new name of Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper (EARTN). The magazine section became a separate monthly magazine, and was the sole responsibility of Heinz Vogel.
EARTN's successful rebirth was recognised later that year when the Surrey Voluntary Association for the Blind voted it 'Surrey Talking Newspaper of the Year' and the Runnymede Disability Liaison Group gave it their award for 'Services to the Disabled'. Furthermore, with the monthly magazine firmly established, this received the 2003 Runnymede Access Liaison Group’s Award for its Achievement and Contribution made in enhancing the lives of disabled people in the Borough of Runnymede.
Finally, Egham, the last remaining Rotary Club in the two boroughs, joined EARTN in 1998 and the original magazine side was reinstated in the form of the EARTN Monthly Features Supplement, now better known as our Monthly Magazine. As a result EARTN is now producing cassettes at the rate of about 15,000 copies a year, reaching over 150 blind and visually impaired people in Elmbridge and Runnymede. These cassettes consist of the weekly news, which reached issue number 1,500 at the end of 2004, and the Monthly Magazine. Furthermore, the service is, and always has been, completely free of charge, the participating Rotary Clubs providing the bulk of the funding. Some 50 volunteers produce the labour for this weekly operation.
In December 2004 the Talking Newspaper Association of the U.K awarded a certificate to EARTN in recognition of its 1500th edition.
In 2005 the 30th anniversary of its launch was marked with tributes from Michael Aspel, Bernard Cribbins, Nerys Hughes and the Mayors of Elmbridge and Runnymede.
In October 2006 EARTN received 100 from the Glaxo Smith Kline Local Health Awards Scheme. Receiving this award was the retiring Chairman and Editor, Heinz Vogel, who was succeeded as Editor by Hugh Read, winner of one of the Elmbridge Community Awards for 2006 “In recognition of the voluntary support he has provided to the community”.
Faced with the failure of one of the machines used for cassette copying and the knowledge that the others would all need major repair, in February 2008 EARTN launched an appeal for 13,000 to replace the six copiers. The target was reached in April thanks to generous support from Elmbridge and Runnymede councils, local charities and the public and the new machines were installed in May.
Following the closure of the Weybridge and Byfleet Rotary in the course of 2008, EARTN lost 20% of its funding from the Rotary Clubs.
As in all such undertakings, EARTN is entirely dependent on the services of willing, unpaid, volunteers, who give whatever time they can each month – not less than three hours. Anyone who wishes to volunteer to work with the team should ring our Helpline: 01784 435622. This is also the number to ring if you know of anyone who would like to receive the Talking Newspaper.
Weekly Cycle of Activities

Monday: The Movements Register Team records the address cards from returned pouches in the register and cleans the cassettes ready for re-use. The following week’s despatch cards and pouches are then prepared and individual record sheets updated as appropriate.

Tuesday: The Scriptwriter prepares the script in readiness for the next issue. When completed, two photocopies are made for the recording team, the original being used as the Recording Supervisor’s copy.

Wednesday: The studio is used for recording, duplicating and other associated activities connected with the production of the Monthly Magazine.

Thursday Morning (10.00am): Editorial Team of two, who choose items from local editions of the Surrey Herald and News and Mail. Cuttings are combined with the scripts that have already been prepared for the Presenters.

News Cuttings taken from Surrey Herald and News & Mail to be used for Elmbridge & Runneymede Talking Newspaper

Thursday Afternoon: The Recording Supervisor and the two Presenters (one male and one female) produce the master recording. After the session, the Recording Supervisor produces a back-up 'Copy Master', which will be ready for the copying team should the master fail or be otherwise damaged.

Friday Morning (9.30am): The Copying Teams consisting of three volunteers produce the required number of News and Woman's Weekly cassettes. These are inserted into the addressed pouches prepared by the Movements Register Team on Monday and put in mailbags, for collection by Weybridge Post Office for delivery to listeners by first post on Saturday.

Copies of the Woman's Weekly cassette are also produced on Friday and distributed to those listeners who have requested it.

In addition to the above weekly cycle of work a Monthly Magazine is also produced, the production of which is currently organised by the Joint Editors

The resulting output of the Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper Association amounts to a grand total of approximately 15,000 cassettes a year.

Monthly Talking Magazine

The Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking News (EaRTN) monthly Talking Magazine, unlike the weekly news digest that requires a disciplined weekly structure to ensure its regular production, can be produced in a rather more relaxed manner, in line with its publication date of the first week-end in the month, although it still requires a disciplined and organised approach to its preparation. Thus the editorial team, lead by the joint Editors, plan the contents well in advance, leaving space for the more topical items and aim to have the recording made at least 10 days before publication. This leave time for reflection and ‘fine tuning’ at the last moment.

The monthly Talking Magazine contains a mixture of original articles, interviews with interesting / eminent people in the area and readings of stories of general interest . Recent interviews recorded include a series of reminiscences by one of our oldest listeners, Ernie Russon, about his experiences in service during the 1920s and ‘30s; Michael Aspell, currently of the BBC Antiques Roadshow fame; Sir Nicholas Winton, who was instrumental is saving some 700 children from the holocaust in 1939; various actors and actresses from TV and the silver screen, and even memoirs of some of our own volunteers.
Thus, there is always room for contributions from individual volunteers who either have a story of their own to tell or who are prepared to conduct interviews with interesting people.
EaRTN News

Some recent events involving the Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper include:

Donation From EATRN Listener Mrs Terry
Recently the Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper received a donation from one of their listeners, Mrs. Barbara Terry of Walton.

Mrs. Terry, who was diagnosed with macular degeneration at the age of 55, was a founding member of the Walton Macular Degeneration Group. 10 years ago, following a talk to the Group by Mr. Bert Jones of the Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper (EARTN), she
became a listener.

Mrs. Terry said: “I really look forward to receiving the tapes of the Talking Newspaper every Saturday. I listen to my tape on Sunday morning and am particularly interested in the local news and details of the forthcoming local events It helps me to feel a part of the community and I find I am telling my husband the local news! We often go to interesting events in the community as a result of hearing about them on thanks to the Talking Newspaper.”

Mrs. Terry decided to ask friends to give her their small change, which she put in a large sweet jar. Gradually, people with whom she worked for local charities became aware of her scheme.
Our photograph shows her with her original sweet jar and the pottery clown which also contains coins. “I would come home and find a plastic bag of small change on the doorstep” she said.

Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper listener Mrs Terry

As a result, she has been able to raise funds for her favourite charities and send donations not only to the Talking Newspaper but also Calibre (Talking Books). “I am grateful to both the Talking Newspaper and Talking Books” she said “both give me an invaluable service, making my life so much richer.”

When Mrs. Terry met her husband, Brian, she had a pilot’s licence and knew many of the international heroes of aviation in the early days of flying. Her husband laughingly told us that, although she had a pilot’s licence, she had never learnt to drive a car and he had many scary moments teaching her to come down to earth!

New EARTN Secretary
Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Jackie Scobling as Secretary, following the retirement of Mr. Michael Holmberg at the end of 2009.

Chairman Chris Gilroy paid tribute to Mr. Holmberg: “We shall miss Mike, who has served as Secretary to the Talking Newspaper for the past four years. He has made a major contribution, not only as a very efficient member of the Executive Committee, but also as an active participant in the raising of the 13,000 needed for the replacement of the obsolescent copying machines in 2009. This was a highly successful appeal and Mike worked extremely hard, particularly in dealing with the information required by Surrey County Council and Elmbridge and Runnymede Councils. I am delighted that he will still be involved as a volunteer in the production of both the Talking Newspaper and our Monthly Magazine.”
He added “Mrs. Scobling has considerable secretarial and administrative experience and I look forward to working with her in the future. She is already a volunteer with the Talking Newspaper and has proved to be a valuable member of the team”.

Special Award
On Wednesday, 29th April 09, the Worshipful Mayor of Elmbridge, Cllr. Nigel Cooper, visited the studio of Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper to record an interview with volunteers Anne Prevost and Sid Stone, during which he reviewed his year of office and spoke movingly about the highlights. He had met four members of the Royal family (the Earl and Countess of Essex, the Duke of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester) and the members of the British Olympic rowing team. He felt he would remember for many years meeting an old lady who was celebrating her hundredth birthday. He helped her to cut her birthday cake, but was particularly touched by the way she continued to hold his hand throughout.

Mayor of Elmbridge's Award to Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper

The Mayor then presented a special award to the Talking Newspaper – a limited edition plaque - which will be displayed in the studio at Weybridge Hospital.

Annual General Meeting
Chairman of the Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper, Chris Gilroy welcomed members to the Annual General Meeting on 18th March. Thanking volunteers for the consistently good service of the Talking Newspaper, he paid tribute to Hugh Read, who retired as Editor at the end of 2008 and who had steered the Talking Newspaper through the acquisition of the new copying machines. He presented Hugh with a book token in recognition of his service, first as Secretary and then Editor, over seven years.

Tina Turner, Editor, echoed the tribute to Hugh Read, her predecessor, and pointed out that he was still active as a volunteer in the production of both the weekly newspaper and the monthly magazine. Reporting on a busy year, she considered that the drop in circulation was due in part to the fact that the younger generation of visually impaired people obtained their information from other sources: going digital would have to be considered, but tapes would continue as long as there was a demand. The number of volunteers was also down slightly. At the end of 2008 Heinz Vogel, who had joined the Talking Newspaper in 1982, and who had continued as a volunteer after standing down as Editor and Chairman, left. Bob Evans, another long standing volunteer, resigned for health reasons, as well as two more recent recruits, Karen Streeter and Dee Watson. She felt that, after the early teething problems, the new copiers had certainly improved the quality of the recordings and thanks to Mr. Henry Cook of Richard Cook Ltd. it had also been possible to update the computer and other equipment in the studio.

In addition to the representatives of the four Rotary Clubs, the following were elected to the Executive Committee for the coming year: Chris Gilroy (Chairman), Mike Holmberg (Secretary), Jeremy Grace (Treasurer), Margaret Boulter, Anne Prevost and Tina Turner.

Peter Ewing receiving 25 years award from the Deputy Mayor of Elmbridge

The Deputy Mayor of Elmbridge, Cllr. James Vickers, presented awards to Mary Cobham, Ann Davis, Sandy Ewing (Deputy Chairman), Chris Gilroy (Chairman) and Jeremy Grace (Treasurer) who have served on the Talking Newspaper for over 10 years, with a special award to Peter Ewing for over 25 years’ service (photo on right).

“Thank you” to Donors
Following the appeal to raise 13,000 for new copying equipment in January 2008, EARTN was able to purchase new Otari copiers in April. These were installed in May and representatives of the major donors were invited to a reception to celebrate this and view the new equipment at the Talking Newspaper studio. In the photograph, Hugh Read, Editor in chief, demonstrates the copiers to (l. to r.) Sylvia Carter (SCC Local Committee, Runnymede), Henry Cook (Richard Cook Ltd., Chertsey) and Rosemary Dane (Mayor of Elmbridge 2007/8)

Left to right:  Sylvia Carter (SCC Local Committee, Runnymede), Henry Cook (Richard Cook Ltd., Chertsey) and Rosemary Dane (Mayor of Elmbridge, 2007/8) watch Editor Hugh Read operating the new copying equipment.
Want To Join Us ?  

EaRTN welcomes volunteers to help with the production of the tapes.

Due to the retirement of some long serving volunteers, the EARTN urgently needs help in order to produce the cassettes of local news for visually impaired people in the two boroughs.
The team of volunteers prepares a weekly digest of news from the local newspapers as well as a monthly magazine edition of interviews with local celebrities and items of interest to visually impaired people. The service is free and the tapes are collected from the studio on Fridays for delivery by the Post Office at the weekend.
Duties usually involve two to three hours every four to six weeks.
There is something going on every morning of the week, so if you can spare a weekday morning to join the team, please ring our helpline on 01784 435 622.

Councillor James Vickers (Deputy Mayor of Elmbridge) in Elmbridge & Runneymede Talking Newspaper studio with volunteers
Councillor James Vickers (Deputy Mayor of Elmbridge) in our studio being shown
the new copying machines by Pat Brown & Sid Stone
Producing a script

Volunteers working on the production of the Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper

Preparing for distribution
A visit to Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper by Michael Aspel
Michael Aspel visiting Elmbridge & Runnymede Talking Newspaper
Contact Details

How to Contact EaRTN

If you would like more information about The Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper Association (EaRTN), either as a listener or a volunteer, please contact us directly by any of the following methods and we will respond to you as soon as we can.

By e-mail

Our e-mail address is eartn at waitrose dot com. Following this is a link for your e-mail client

By Post

Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper
Weybridge Hospital and Primary Care Centre
22 Church Street
Weybridge Surrey KT13 8DY

By Telephone

Our Helpline number is: 01784 435 622

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