09/04/2019 - Talking newspaper editor Bill is honoured to have bus named after him

Skills Coaches recognises Bill Purdue's 40-year dedication to talking newspapers


Bill Purdue has selflessly dedicated 40 years of his life to being the editor of a ‘talking newspaper’.

 The 71-year-old has now been honoured by having his very own bus named after him.

 Bill is the editor of the Mansfield and Ashfield Echo, which is recorded for the blind and partially-sighted once a fortnight and sent out free of charge.

 He was nominated to be one of Nottingham-based Skills Holidays’ Stars of Skills after the top travel firm appealed for local heroes to have a coach named after them, as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

 Bill, of Skegby, Nottinghamshire, was put forward by fellow volunteer on the newspaper, Janet Roberts, and will be presented with the honorary namesake at Skills’ open day at their head office in Bulwell on Sunday, April 7.

Skills Star Winner Bill said: “It’s a big surprise, it’s amazing. I’m very flattered.

“If people see my name on the side of that bus, they will say ‘who on Earth’s that?!’

 Retired librarian Bill, who has previously worked in hospital radio, had gone along to a meeting in 1979 of a group of people thinking about setting up a talking newspaper.

The pilot edition, only 30 minutes long, was recorded in the former Mansfield studio of BBC Radio Nottingham in the October of that year.

 He had already been editor of a talking newspaper in Coventry, in the West Midlands, but had returned to Nottinghamshire for a librarian job.

 Forty years later, he is still going, helping to co-ordinate the recordings of content as part of a team of around 20 volunteers.

 Over the years, the team have paid for cassette-copiers out of their own pocket, and had to find somewhere to record.

“It’s all local news,” said Bill, who also volunteers at Queen’s Medical Centre.

 “We started off with The Mansfield Chad - they said ‘yes, you can use our material’.

 “Now we use the Mansfield and Ashfield News Journal, and we also got permission to use any relevant items from the Nottingham Post.”

 As well as using local newspaper content, the volunteers also record their own interviews, articles and features for each 75-minute edition, which is available on CD or memory stick and posted free-of-charge by Royal Mail.

 The team meet every other Tuesday at a studio in Mansfield and the newspaper is distributed to 125 people in the Mansfield area and Ashfield district, with one former native having the paper delivered in Wales.

 Bill said: “I enjoy doing it. It’s nice to get nice comments from the listeners. You know you are doing something worthwhile.”

Janet Roberts, a features writer on the newspaper for over 30 years, nominated Bill.

 She said: “The newspaper is an amazing production that goes out every other Tuesday and needs an enormous amount of material and most features last about four minutes.

“Bill has become a good personal friend.

 “He is amazing. There’s hardly a recording in 40 years that he hasn’t attended.

 “He’s always there, it’s a huge task. People send content in and he has to sort all that - getting it worked out, who to read it, how long it’s going to take.

 “He plans his holiday around it - everything is geared towards the Echo.

 “It’s staggering - to do that for 40 years is some commitment.”

Nigel Skill, chairman of Skills Holidays, congratulated Bill on his new-found honour.

 He said: “It gives me great pleasure to name one of our coaches after Bill, who is such a devoted servant to not only his community, but to the blind and partially-sighted in his community.

 “We had so many nominations from our appeal to find a local hero, but we just couldn’t ignore the hard work and commitment that Bill has poured into the talking newspaper over the past 40 years. We salute you, Bill.”

 To find out more, visit www.skills.co.uk