Moray talking newspaper celebrates 40 years providing a valuable community service

The Companion is released on cassette tapes and memory stick.
The Companion is released on cassette tapes and memory stick.

A Moray talking newspaper, established as a way for blind and visually impaired people to find out about local news, is celebrating its 40th birthday.

The Moray Companion was set up in 1979 by David and Sandra Dick after the former became aware that some of his clients – while he worked as a social worker for the blind – had no access to information about events in their own community.

In a bid to tackle the problem, he created a talking newspaper – on cassette tapes – which would take the local news to anyone who needed it.

Assisted by volunteer readers and engineers who recorded the bulletins, the Companion has served hundreds of people over the last 40 years and is still going strong.

About 50 consumers now receive a copy monthly, with the newspaper available in tape form, although it is also uploaded onto a memory stick as well.

Mr Dick said that up to 200 people used to receive the free magazine, although numbers have dropped in recent years.

He added: “We started off with 13 or 14 people and got that up to 200 over the next year or so. Those numbers have dropped off considerably due to a change in how people get their news, with the TV and the internet and from CDs but that is the nature of the beast for all talking newspapers.

“We have volunteers who come in and and read for us, while I do the introductions and the finale.”

The Companion is usually released and sent out to clients in the third week of the month, but used to be twice-monthly at the height of its popularity.

Mr Dick is now in his 70s, but hopes to continue with the project for as long as he can.

He said: “It is a long time to be running this and it doesn’t get any easier, but I hope to continue this for as long as I can.

“Over the years, we’ve had specialists come in and give talks about gardening, cooking, wine and beer-making and we even held a Christmas pantomime one year.

“The furthest we have sent a copy is to the south of England to someone originally from Moray and we will try and keep it going as long as folk are still interested.”