"I've seen so many changes I feel like a time traveller myself"
Just a minute Mr Postman.
It's not every day a small reception committee made up of the CEO and most of the staff at the N-Vision NW, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Socety for the Blind, gather to greet the post.
Normally Rick Potter pops into the mail room to pick up the bags containing the digital audio plugs which deliver the society's Talking Newspaper to hundreds of listeners across all three local boroughs.
It's a crucial service provided by the Royal Mail, the DAPs then posted back, recorded over with the following week's news, delivered and collected by Rick and other postie regulars in support of a lifeline service for those who can no longer read a newspaper.
"We couldn't manage without our posties," says Joy Killip, the longest standing news reader at the 'paper'. "I thought it was time we said thank you for a first class service."
This year the Talking Newspaper, one of the oldest in the country, turns 41. The big 4-0 was celebrated last summer with Blackpool Tower lighting up in the charity's colours for the occasion and volunteers thanked with certificates and a special lunch.
Volunteer Joy, 93 years young, received her certificate later - along with some flowers from chairman of trustees Clive Hirst in recognition of the fact she had started volunteer work in 1963 notching up 55 years of service to the charity in general.
Generous Joy decided to share the joy by making a urprise presentation to the Royal Mail.
"We really value their support."
The former hotelier and thespian is one of Britain’s veteran newscasters – having read the news for the society’s Talking Newspaper since it started more than four decades ago.
But she never expected when she turned up to help with a spot of fundraising in 1963 to still be there 55 year later. This is one charity which gets volunteers on a very long hook indeed.
Put in perspective 1963 was the year of the Great Train Robbery, when The Beatles had their very first number one (then two more) in the singles charts and topped the UK album charts with Please Please Please Me for 30 weeks - and released that cover of Please Mister Postman. John Profumo resigned over his affair with Christine Keeler - and the very first Dr Who was broadcast.
Joy feel like she’s done some time travelling herself. “I’ve seen so many changes in the technology used at our Talking Newspaper – and in the aids and appliances now available to those with sight loss as well as the technological advances there too. And I can remember what a faff it used to be to get the tapes out to the sorting office at all hours."
One thing hasn’t changed - Joy continues to come to the Talking Newspaper recording studios at least twice a week to read and record the news for almost 300 subscribers to the newspaper via digital audio plug and countless more downloading it online,
And the Royal Mail continue to support the service, collecting and delivering the Talking Newspaper free to listeners across the locality – the charity itself spans all three local boroughs Blackpool Fylde and Wyre.
Joy, while delighted with her own special certificate for 40 years of voluntary service to the Talking Newspaper and flowers for 55 years with the society in general, praised posties as the ‘unsung heroes and heroines’ of the service and presented delighted mailman Rick Potter with a special certificate for display back at their base at Bispham.
The charity, which dates back to 1910, supports more than 2000 people living with sight loss. Twenty of its clients are 100 years old or older. All but a handful still live independently or with loved ones, some supported by the charity’s CareGivers at Home Service. Only four are in rest homes, and one in a nursing home. One client resides at the charity’s own award winning Princess Alexandra Home which is no longer exclusively for the use of blind and visually impaired clients. Five of the 20 are 101 years old, four were born in 1915 and one was born in 1913.
They have still got a long way to go to catch up with the history of the Royal Mail. It was founded in 1516 - so it's more than 500 years since Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts.