Talking Newspaper receives support from Essex Freemasons

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The Wickford and District Talking Newspaper, a charity which has worked in the area since 1977 to provide up to date news for the blind and partially sighted, has received a grant of £1,250 from Essex Freemasons.

The money, £750 from the members of Sibelius Lodge which meets at Brentwood and a further £500 from the Essex Freemasons Community Fund, will allow the charity to continue to provide newsletters and weekly updates sending out more than a 1000 recordings a month to the residents across the Basildon, Wickford and Billericay areas.

“We need just over £5,000 a year to continue the service, providing over a 1,000 recordings a month, which is a lifeline for blind and partially sighted people,” said Chairman of Wickford and District Talking Newspaper, Sally Webb. “This grant is most welcome and covers 25% of our costs for the next 12 months so is a real lifeline for us.”

The charity works by collating news from local newspapers and recording content for distribution to local residents. Each Listener is loaned what the charity calls a ‘boom box’ and the recordings are sent out on a memory stick which allows each person to hear the selected news on these speakers. These in turn are returned each week to the charity’s offices in Basildon to be updated.

“This is a charity which does so much for the blind and partially sighted in the area and one which our members felt they wanted to support,” said Peter Sander, Charity Steward for Sibelius Lodge. “Our £750, which has been topped up by the Essex Freemasons Community fund has also made a real difference.”

Wickford and District Talking Newspaper, under the leadership of dynamic Studio Manager Mike Ballinger, took over the Basildon Talking Newspaper, known as the ‘Town Crier’ in 2006 when the operation was then based in Wickford. In 2008 the service was moved to the George Hurd Centre in Basildon.

“Once again I am delighted that Essex Freemasons have been able to support a charity that does so much for the local community,” said Neil Beverley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master. “This is the latest in more than £120,000 worth of grants earmarked for local good causes like this and I am pleased we are making such a difference.”

Sadly, like most charities, Wickford and District Talking Newspaper has had to temporarily reduce its output because of Covid-19. This has meant that local news can only be updated every two weeks until normal service can be resumed. According to Mike Ballinger – that will be as soon as possible.

Wickford Talking Newspaper can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;  or 07766 671695 and their website is

Pictured from left to right: Neil Beverley Assistant Provincial Grand Master; Mike Ballinger, Colin Felton, Provincial Charity Steward; Peter Sander, Sibelius Lodge; Sally Webb.

Paul Palmer

Group Communications Officer
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex