Arran Sound, originally ‘The Talking Banner’ began when Mrs Celia Sillars took on the task of reading and recording the local Arran newspaper ‘The Banner’ for sight impaired friend Jack Cooper in 1989. The newspaper ran an article, with photographs, and very quickly, subscribers increased and therefore too the need for volunteer readers. Celia soon set up a rota, usually two readers and one ‘techie’ operating the recording equipment, a somewhat ponderous operation, at that time very much considered to be a ‘mans’ job, and wow did the gentlemen guard their recording rights. It was some time before any of the ladies were allowed to rise to the illustrious heights of recorder.
Volunteers came together in the tiny back room of the Arran Council for Voluntary Services (ACVS) every Friday when the Islands weekly newspaper, The Arran Banner was printed in Brodick, collected hot of the press and rushed to Lamlash. Reading was carried out amid much banter and often hilarious laughter, as those early Banner’s were frequently very funny, enhanced by somewhat dubious grammar, making reading out loud fraught with pitfalls necessitating many stops, rewinds and much grumbling from gentlemen recorders. The readers would often know a post script to an article and this would be included in the recording, along with the laughter and relevant discussion. The letters page always prompted comment, with the sports page terrifying every volunteer as they tried to keep a straight face while reporting the complexities of football, rugby, or ladies hockey ‘high’ balls. Our listeners loved it!
Once completed the recordings were copied onto tapes, laboriously, by a large clunky machine, popped into yellow postage free envelopes and off into the evening post for delivery on Saturday morning to anyone who had difficulty reading the paper due to sight impairment or other issues. The service was free to anyone on the Island who needed it and over the years often also sent to the mainland. At this time the paper edition was distributed late Friday afternoon although the official publication day was Saturday. This resulted in our core listeners having access to the local news almost simultaneously with the wider community, which meant that no matter how isolated by distance or disability our listeners were, they were included in the immediate island Saturday debate which The Banner always stimulated.
Volunteers came and went, thirty years is a long time, the listeners ebbed and flowed, The Banner changed ownership and the name of the group changed also, eventually becoming Arran Sound as it is now. Modernisation followed and we now record on a laptop and send out memory sticks for use on box readers provided to our listeners. However the service remains the same. There are presently fourteen volunteer readers and recorders who still provide the talking newspaper to sight impaired, dyslexic, literacy challenged and indeed anyone who finds it difficult to read our local press. We also record our local online monthly newspaper The Voice for Arran. Now, after thirty years providing a recorded newspaper service , we are moving forward into the internet world where our listeners are able to enjoy the same talking newspapers online and also Arran news, concerts, plays and books, indeed any Arran community activity that we, or others can record, will be available 24 hours a day for the whole Island to access. Bringing our Arran Sound listeners a more comprehensive view of Arran life.
Arran’s people, events and news for everyone who lives on our beautiful little island.