Volunteers and listeners of Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper were saddened this month by the news of the deaths of two volunteers, who were remembered with affection and gratitude for their many years’ support.

In 1976, a year after the Talking Newspaper was launched, Weybridge resident Dick Birkhead joined the team of volunteers from Weybridge and Byfleet Rotary Club in the production of the recordings.

In those days, recording was done in the garage of one of the volunteers on a single tape recorder and he soon made it his job to ensure that any problem was overcome quickly in order to ensure the weekly recordings went out promptly to listeners.

As more Rotary clubs joined and numbers grew, more recording equipment was added. Dick checked the recorders every week and was always prepared to sort out problems at any time.

When he gave up after 20 years, he was always available on the phone for advice and what help he could give until he was succeeded by other volunteers who could deal with the problems.

However, he still kept in touch and eventually became a listener himself until his death in Byfleet in late October at the age of 101.

Chris Gilroy became a listener in 1993, having started to lose his sight some years earlier, and joined the committee as Listeners’ Representative in 1997.

He became Chairman in 2007, but following surgery for cancer of the throat he retired in 2015 and was unanimously appointed Life President, a post he held until his death in November at the age of 75.

His business experience made him a very good listener and he was an excellent leader, willing to give advice when required – one colleague described him as a “great listening post”.

He was an excellent ambassador for talking newspapers, and said that thanks to the weekly recordings he was better informed about what was going on in Elmbridge and his home town, Cobham, than his sighted friends.

As he had guide dogs for over thirty years, he attended every meeting and AGM with his beautiful dogs and they posed with him for many pictures at various functions publicising Talking Newspapers.

He will be remembered fondly by all who had the good fortune to know and work with him.

If, like him, you have difficulty reading and would like to receive a recording of the local news or knew someone who would, please ring 01784 435622. This is also the number to ring if you would like to join us in New Haw to produce the recordings.