Talking team need new base

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A charity which revolutionised the way blind people enjoy newspapers in Matlock is appealing for urgent help.

Matlock Talking Newspaper Association, which was launched in the town over 30 years ago, is searching for a new base after discovering their current premises is set to be demolished.

The association, which is not grant-aided and is funded by donations and fundraising, is appealing to anyone with a spare room to come forward and offer the association space for two mornings a week.

The service, which is staffed by volunteers, produce tape recordings of the Matlock Mercury and Derbyshire Times and distribute these free of charge to visually impaired people in the area. Currently they distribute over 200 copies every week.

Chris Price, of the association, said: “We urgently need secure office accommodation of about 250 square feet which we will require access to on two mornings per week and will be staffed by three people on each day.

“Being a charity and dependant on donations from the general public as our only source of income we cannot pay a commercial rent.”

Since the charity launched it has been provided with free office accommodation by Derbyshire County Council at various locations in Matlock, latterly at the Chatsworth Hall site on Cavendish Road.

But members have been told that the building is to be demolished and unfortunately the council is unable to offer a suitable alternative.

Volunteer Paul Fryer said: “The room is in a very poor state of repair. We have to cover up our equipment when we leave in case bits of the ceiling fall down.

“We haven’t thought about what will happen if we can’t find anywhere – we are just being fairly confident that something will come up. Various people have offered us a room in their house or a garage but that wouldn’t be very convenient for the people who live there.

The service was set up by members of Matlock Rotary Club, who looked into the needs of disabled residents in the area and came up with an idea to help people enjoy the news even though they could not read any newspapers.

On October 19, 1978 Matlock Talking Newspaper was born.

Three decades later, the scheme is still changing lives for blind and partially-sighted people across the area.

Many of the volunteers have been involved with the service for 30 years and take it in turns to read the newspaper on Thursday evenings.

To help Matlock Talking Newspaper contact secretary Chris Fryer on 01629 584086.