Talking Newspaper volunteer hangs up his headphones after 25 years

Dudley News: Brian Saunders retires from the Black Country Talking newspaper. Buy this photo: 521301M. Brian Saunders retires from the Black Country Talking newspaper. Buy this photo: 521301M.

THE longest serving volunteer at the Black Country Talking Newspaper has delivered his last weekly round up.

After dedicating 25 years to sourcing and recording news onto CDs for people in the borough who are blind or partially sighted, Brian Saunders, of Brierley Hill retired today (Thursday).

Mr Saunders, aged 75, joked that he was "roped in" to volunteering in 1988, when he took his son to the base at Barnet Lane in Wordsley to see how the paper was put together.

He said he "never looked back" and soon became "part of the furniture" at the Mary Stevens Centre, Oldswinford, when the paper re-located in 1996.

Not content with reading out the news, Mr Saunders also spent hours trawling through local newspapers to find articles suitable for the 25 minute news slot, paying particular attention to stories that related to people with sight loss.

Armed with cuttings, he would arrive at the centre every Wednesday to record and help copy hundreds of CDs, ready to be sent out to listeners.

Mr Saunders said his role was "demanding" but worthwhile: "We get a lot of feedback from listeners who really enjoy want we do. To some, it's a lifeline and that's where I get my gratification."

He added that the decision to leave was a difficult one: "I'm 75 now and things aren't getting any easier. I will still continue to volunteer but not until after Easter, I'll have a rest and then look for something that isn't so demanding.

"I will still pop in from time to time to see everyone, they are a wonderful team to work with and I will miss them all.

Team co-ordinator, Claire Bayley, said Mr Saunders' departure would leave "a big gap" in the team.

She said: "Brian is really hands on and loyal. We were shocked when he told us he was retiring because he is part of the furniture."

The team are now looking for more volunteers, who would be available on Tuesday and Wednesdays, to take over Mr Saunders' duties.

For more information, call 01384 440333.

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