The Watford Observer has been producing weekly newspapers for more than 150 years but for people who cannot see the words on a page, there is another way to stay informed of the latest current events.

The Watford Talking Newspaper was established in 1997 and produces weekly free audio recordings of news in the Watford, Bushey and Three Rivers areas for sight-impaired people.

News items released by the Observer on a Thursday afternoon are recorded by 10 local teams who take it in turns to record at each other’s houses each week.

The recording is edited elsewhere before being copied in MP3 format and about 75 memory sticks are then sent freepost as articles for the blind by Friday evening.

Listeners return the sticks freepost for re-recording the following week.

Michael and Marion Cumbers have been involved in the recording of the newspaper for 10 years after being inspired by the people who “give up their time and homes to read the news”.

Mr Cumbers sits beside the group while they pass round the microphone and ensures it is recording and is clear enough for listeners.

He said: “The Watford Observer is a very visual paper and we want to help people who cannot see to still keep up to date with what is going on.

“We make it possible for current events to still reach local people, particularly after funding was stopped when it was recorded at the town hall.”

The Watford Talking Newspaper also regularly records About Watford and The Three Rivers Times which also go on the memory stick, together with information about local councillors.

The group holds annual street collections in order to raise funds to provide memory sticks and playback boxes for listeners who do not use a computer.

This money also contributes towards buying high quality recording and editing equipment.

Mrs Cumbers, who helps run the weekly recordings, added that the group is now looking for younger members to get involved.

She said: “We want to encourage younger people to get involved too as they know what events are going on in the area and will be able to keep us informed too.

“The Talking Newspaper is important as it is inclusive and ensures everyone can follow the news in Watford and the surrounding areas.”

To find out more about the Watford Talking Newspaper, visit:

To get involved with the recording of the paper, email or ring chairman Leigh Hutchings on 01923 248006