Talented Talking Newspaper volunteers move on

Talented West Shropshire Talking Newspaper volunteers move on

This week's West Shropshire Talking Newspaper (WSTN) is the final presentation by the charity's youngest presenter Thomas Farrell working in tandem with his mother Donna Ambler, from their home in Wem. Since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions in March 2020, all production of the popular talking newspaper for blind people has been undertaken in the homes of the charity's volunteers because social distancing rules have meant the organisation's permanent studio could not be used.

Thomas (Tom), who is a18 and a final year media student offered to become one of the five WSTN 'home hubs' working on a roster basis to publish the weekly two-hour programme of news readings and features. But now, after a holiday visiting family, Tom will be taking up a University place at Salford in broadcast Journalism. He said he was very grateful to the WSTN for the chance gain hands-on experience in the pressures of completing an audio programme to a deadline and Tom added: "There has never been a dull moment with the WSTN. The effort of all its contributors is astounding, I'm extremely appreciative of what they've done for me and continue to do for the community.”

Prior to the emergency Tom was already involved with the WSTN as its correspondent in Wem providing reports and interviews from the area. Alan Wilding, one of the WSTN Trustees, said the WSTN is very grateful to both Tom and Donna for helping maintain our unbroken record of continuous production during the pandemic. Alan added: " When lockdown restrictions were imposed in March 2020, we had to instantly re-invent our way of working and having two such enthusiastic and capable volunteers has helped us enormously."

Tom said: “Reporting from Salford is one step up from Wem but the WSTN has grown my confidence. I'm looking forward to what challenges I'll face during my course and how I'll overcome them with the knowledge I've gained from volunteering with the talking newspaper."

Tom's mother Donna Ambler has also been studying to become a mental health counsellor and she, too, has now completed her studies and moves on to set up her own new service - Ambler Counselling Service. Donna said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being part of something Thomas is involved in and it has made me appreciate the hard work which goes into a voluntary service. 

“I am now focusing on my new business and becoming that all important ‘listening ear’, which I think many people will value, particularly at this time."

Ambler Counselling Service can be contacted at: [email protected].

This week's WSTN, which can be heard via the charity's website www.wstn.org.uk , was edited by Lalage Bown and Lalage can also be heard on this week’s programme, interviewing local hotelier Mike Matthews about his provision of accommodation for homeless people within his Prince Rupert Hotel in the centre of Shrewsbury.

Another contributor is Emma Chaplin of the Royal National Institute of Blind People talking about her role as Eye Clinic Liaison at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and offering reassurance to listeners who may be about to visit Outpatients for the first time since the start of lockdown.

In addition to streaming via its website, the WSTN can also be heard on the Talking Newspapers app, via Amazon’s Alexa and on the telephone 01743 387487.