Richmond Talking Newspaper has celebrated its 40th birthday, and the original duo responsible for setting it up were on hand to mark the milestone.

If it was Richmond Toc H’s generosity that started things off, both Richmond Parish Lands and Hampton Fuel Allotments have provided continued support when equipment has needed replacing.

While 40 years is a lifetime to some, Richmond Talking Newspaper remains as a unique source of local and community news for blind and partially sighted residents of the Borough.

There are now around 500 talking newspapers for visually impaired people throughout the UK, but the very first one was established in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1970.

Richmond residents Sheila Webb (as she was then) and Pat Ingham were both members of Richmond Toc H branch, and it was Sheila in particular who decided that the Borough should join the early adopters of this unique form of local and community news.

“I knew that Hounslow already had a talking newspaper,” Sheila said.

“Because my now husband Frank was receiving it. I was keen that Richmond should have one of its own, and so I asked Toc H if it would help.”

A small group was then set up to raise funds for this new venture and Pat Ingham became its inaugural administrator.

“A fortunate addition to the team was Mike Pontin, chief sound technician at Thames Television who brought with him a very large microphone ‘on loan’ from the television company,” Pat added.

“We recorded the very first programme on 21st April 1979, with four readers sitting round a table in the basement storeroom of MIND’s charity shop at 64 Sheen Road.

“We read articles out of the Richmond & Twickenham Times of that week. To start with there were about 30 listeners, but numbers quickly swelled as word got out. Social Services generously gave us 20 cassette players, and other listeners were able to use their own equipment.”

Since then a lot has changed, although much has remained the same. Recordings are still made on a Friday night, the day on which the Richmond & Twickenham Times is published.

No change either to the routine of having four readers sitting round a table, reading the paper’s content, article by article. The big change has been the move from analogue recording on cassettes to digital memory sticks in 2006.

The service free to the listener, and a USB player is be provided. More information can be found by visiting