READING can often be taken for granted. Just the act of picking up a book, a magazine or a newspaper is something the majority of us do on a daily basis, but for others who may have difficulty in picking things up or who are registered blind or partially-sighted, things are not as simple.
That’s where Ryedale Talking Magazine comes in. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, a group of dedicated volunteers give up their time each month to record an 80-minute talking magazine, recorded on CDs and sent out to people who are unable to read for themselves.
“We want to make these people happy when they listen to it,” editor-in-chief Peter Rickard tells me.
“We are always thinking of the people who are listening to it when we are recording it and although we never meet them or see who is listening to it, they are always in your mind when you are recording.”
As the editor-in-chief, Peter is responsible for editing the pieces for the magazine, which is produced monthly on tape and CD, before putting the recordings together to produce the final edition.
Every month the group meets at a member’s house in Pickering and take it in turns to record their chosen pieces. These can be anything from news stories to a particular topic of interest to an extract from a biography.
Some readers even choose to record a piece of their own work. “It’s a social occasion as well, we have lots of fun,” said Freddy Blakeley, a long-standing member of the group.
She has been a member of the group for about 13 years now and, like Peter, she too believes that despite never knowing who listens to the tape, the recordings they do are worthwhile in how much they help people.
“A woman once recognised my voice because she listened to the tape with her mother and it was so nice to hear that they liked what we have done,” she said.
Typically a CD is made up of between 12 to 14 pieces, which are usually about light and interesting topics, although the group welcome members to record anything they have a particular interest in.
“Come along and have fun,” said Freddy. “Even if you can only spare an hour or so to just read your piece, it doesn’t matter. We have coffee and biscuits as well.”
The group is appealing for more volunteers to join after the Charities Commission, which funds the magazine’s work, expanded its coverage to include Scarborough, Whitby, Filey, Driffield, Selby and York.
It’s not just new volunteers they are after either.
“We are looking for listeners as well. More than 300 people in Ryedale are registered as blind or partially sighted,” said Peter.
“If you know anyone who might be interested in using the service who might not even know about it, then we would encourage them to take advantage of it.”
The tapes and CDs are sent out for free and are then returned by the user, free of charge back to the group.
For more information and a sample tape phone Val Bulidon 01751 476499.