Swindon & District Talking Newspaper (STAN) celebrated its 30th anniversary with an afternoon tea at the Jury’s Inn Hotel in Swindon on Saturday (21 April). Around 60 listeners and volunteers mingled together – along with a guide dog or two – and enjoyed what was a memorable occasion.
In her speech to mark the achievement, Veronica Laker, chairman of STAN, thanked the listeners for their continued support. She also thanked all the volunteers, both past and present, who have given, and continue to give, their time so freely for such a worthy cause.
Mike Wood, chairman of the national Talking News Federation (and also STAN volunteer for 28 years), presented STAN with a long service certificate to mark the 30 years.
STAN has come a long way since it was set up in 1982, when a local blind person, Gerry England, heard about other talking newspapers, decided Swindon needed one and assembled a small group of pioneering volunteers. Today it shares its headquarters at Craven House in Victoria Road, Swindon with the Swindon branch of the Wiltshire Blind Association, although in its early days it had a variety of homes, including the front room of prominent Swindon broadcaster Shirley Ludford.
Until 2009 STAN was distributed on cassette, but memory sticks now allow more content and better sound quality. Listeners, of whom there are around 130 at present, range in age from their 30s to their 80s and the forty or so volunteers range from teenagers to septuagenarians.
The news content and many of the features are taken from the Swindon Advertiser, which has always been a great supporter of STAN. Also included each week is a wide range of local information, including a ‘what’s on’ and an ever increasing variety of magazine-type material. These include the latest Infosound briefing (which gives free, impartial and relevant information for those living with sight loss) and also the latest ‘In Touch’ programme from the BBC (which also gives news, views and information for the blind and visually impaired).
Pictured: Veronica Laker receiving long service certificate from Mike Wood