800. Jessica Thurtell
801. David Thurtell
David and Jessica Thurtell, from Dorking, have spent 30 years providing weekly news and local information to blind and partially sighted people in Dorking.
The ‘Dorking Talking Newspaper’ they founded is delivered for free directly to recipients, with listening equipment provided if needed. Together the pair manage 30 volunteers, fundraise over £1,200 a year and have overcome substantial hurdles, including two burglaries in 2012 when their recording equipment was stolen. Jessica (formerly a BBC presenter) runs training for local volunteer readers, which was so successful the National Talking Newspaper Federation sought her advice for best practice. David’s recent digitisation of the project has introduced elderly listeners to modern technology.
In a personal letter to Jessica and David, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“I admire that your volunteer work, which has spanned thirty years, is providing a valuable service for people in your community with visual impairment. Your ability to inspire others to volunteer for the cause is particularly commendable and you should be proud of the many achievements of the ‘Dorking Talking Newspaper.’”
“Talking Newspapers are team efforts – David and I are just parts of the whole. We’ve been going now for 30 years, keeping people with sight problems in touch with their local community. In that time, we’ve worked hard to produce a much-valued service, made some very good friends, and had a great deal of satisfaction from doing our bit.”