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Talking Newspapers receives
BBC Community Champions Award

At a ceremony, hosted at BBC South’s Southampton studios, two Talking Newspaper Association of the UK (TNAUK) volunteer readers, Sonia Locke and Penny Thomas, were presented with a special contribution accolade by Esther Rantzen, in recognition of the work done by all the volunteers at the Association’s Heathfield studios. were nominated by their legions of listeners.

Audio reader Sonia Locke said, "It is important to raise the profile of the Talking Newspaper Association, for people who experience sighted difficulties may not know about our service as we are very much tucked away in the depths of Sussex. The fact that we record magazines such as Chat, Take A Break, Hello, Yours and OK has been well-received by a growing number of listeners. That is an added bonus."

The ceremony for the Community Champions Awards - now in its third year - was presented by Esther Rantzen and BBC South presenters Sally Taylor and Stuart Norval. It was the culmination of a long day that included a studio tour and lavish lunch for all the nominees for the awards that seek to recognise individuals or groups who, on a voluntary basis, make a difference in their community. People whose efforts, though appreciated, often go unsung. Therefore it was an emotional day.

The BBC had visited the National Recording Centre at Heathfield recently to make a special film showing the hard work that goes into each audio publication. Speaking of one of the many lifestyle magazines produced each week, popular reader Madeleine Jordan said, "Because of the feedback we get each week, we feel that many of our subscribers are our friends and we are going into their homes – almost literally!"

The National Service of Talking Newspaper Association has, for over 25 years, produced alternative format versions of national newspaper and magazine titles. Currently over 200 titles are produced on audiotape or in a PC compatible digital format for the visually impaired and other print disabled. Contributed Penny Thomas, "Everything a fully sighted person can see on a newspaper shelf, we will almost certainly cover for people with sighted difficulties here in Heathfield."

"The Association is looking to build on the recent progress made in increasing the profile of its national service," according to Publicity and PR officer Justin King. "But this can only be done through awareness raised by the editorial offices of the titles that the Association covers, and through advertising and funding. The Association is registered charity and does not receive government funding. It has taken some time but now the Association is in regular touch with newspapers and magazines and is keeping them up to date with what it’s doing. They hope that the print media will have a better appreciation and understanding of the Association’s work, but so far their support has been encouraging."