Category Archives: News

Coping with Covid-19

Heroes of Hertfordshire

It was a great pleasure – and surprise – to receive the ‘Heroes of Hertfordshire’ award from The Lord Lieutenant as a result of maintaining our service without a break during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite having to close down our recording studio and production area in March.

When the virus first struck, our initial concern was that, by sending a memory stick in a postal wallet via Royal Mail into the homes of our vulnerable listeners, we would be putting them – and our volunteers – at risk of infection.

Our friends at Radio Verulam offered us an hour of radio time so that we could broadcast a cut-down version of our weekly programme.  We set up a partnering scheme, with volunteers contacting individual listeners on a weekly or even more regular basis – a scheme which has continued throughout and been much enjoyed by listeners and volunteers.

The first task was to find out if all listeners could tune in to the Radio Verulam FM frequency.  All except six could, so for them we bought and delivered Roberts FM/DAB radios, pre-set to 92.6 FM and with gaffer tape preventing accidental retuning!

From Day One, our producers had set up remote recording and editing facilities in their own homes.  They gradually built up a team of remote readers, who recorded news stories and other items at home and then transferred them via internet to the producers.  Other regular contributors also switched to remote recording.

For 16 weeks, we reached all our listeners in this way, while still uploading a longer version to our website and to the BWBF app ‘Talking Newspaper”.  During those weeks, we worked out a new production process, with cleaning and other protective measures in place and with three volunteers developing remote multi-copying facilities in their homes.

By the end of July, we were ready to revert to the usual weekly copying and posting of our programmes under strict hygiene conditions.  During this period, three of our listeners discovered that they could access the uploaded programmes through their computers and so no longer required the postal service.

It was a huge learning experience for all involved and means that we are ready to face whatever challenges come our way next!

Queen’s Award presentation

Lord Lieutenant presents voluntary group MBE

Over 100 volunteers, listeners and friends gathered at St Michael’s Manor for one of the most significant events in the 45-year-long history of St Albans & District Talking Newspaper (SADTN): the presentation by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service.  This Award is made each year to around 200 groups across the UK.  The 2019 Award was made to five voluntary groups in Hertfordshire.

The Lord Lieutenant was joined by three Deputy Lieutenants, the Mayor of the City & District of St Albans, the Town Mayor of Harpenden, three former Mayors of St Albans & District and the District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Inclusion and Community Protection.

Welcoming these many guests, Chairman of SADTN Rob Pearman, noted: “Among the volunteers here today are several who have each been committed to this local charity for over 20 years. Indeed, one has notched up over 40 years, another 33 years, three others just over 20 years each.”

The Lord Lieutenant, Robert Voss CBE, told the volunteers that “the work you do to bring such pleasure and information to people in the community who otherwise would not be able to glean that information is absolutely fantastic. The Award that I will give on behalf of Her Majesty is really something extremely special.  It is known as the MBE for volunteers.”

He added that it has been estimated that there are 150,000 regular volunteers in Hertfordshire, which is about 14% of the County’s population.

Presenting the award to some of the long service SADTN volunteers, the Lord Lieutenant read out the transcript signed by Her Majesty noting that this is “in the 68th year of her reign”.  Volunteers at SADTN realised that they have a long way to go before they reach that level of service to the community.

More information about the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy can be found at

Long serving volunteers accept the Queen's Award from the Lord Lieutenant

Long serving volunteers accept the Queen’s Award from the Lord Lieutenant

Over 100 listeners and volunteers at St Michael's Manor

Over 100 listeners and volunteers at St Michael’s Manor

SADTN has been granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service!

At last, the formal announcement has been made – SADTN has been granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).  This is a fantastic recognition of the efforts of all SADTN volunteers over the past 45 years, especially those who started the whole thing off in 1974 – Ray and Meg Bousfield, sadly no longer with us but never forgotten (see our website).

Here is the official explanation: ‘The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognize outstanding work done in their own communities.  It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.  It is the MBE for volunteer groups.’ 

Obviously, this is a huge honour (we are not the first TN to receive the award, but I doubt any other TN has received the (national) QAVS and the (local) Mayor’s Special Recognition Award in the same year!).  The very small number of us (just the three Trustees) who have known of this award for the past month or so have found it extremely difficult to keep our mouths closed (especially at the recent AGM) but the announcement was embargoed until 2nd June.

If you wish to find out more about the QAVS,  click on  ‘Listen Online’ in the menu at the top of this page,  then scroll down till you reach ‘Community Matters’ near the bottom. Click on that title and you will find an interview about the QAVS as the first item.  This interview was recently played to our listeners – so they will all know what it means when we say “we got it!”

Yet more information about QAVS can be found at their website,


Generosity of local businesses

A variety of great raffle prizes was on offer at SADTN’s 2019 AGM on 27 April, thanks to the following for generous vouchers or gifts: Aldenham Golf & Country Club, Loft Restaurant on George Street, Sopwell House Hotel, Hotter Shoes, Elstree Electrical, Tesco, Ayletts Garden Centre, Cellar Doors, Boots the Chemist, Sainsbury’s, Molton Brown St Albans and several of our own volunteers.  Winning tickets for the raffle were drawn by Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Akhtar Zaman and St Albans’ City and District Mayor Councillor Rosemary Farmer.

Deputy Lieutenant Akhtar Zaman chatting with listeners and volunteers during tea after the 2019 AGM.


Mayor’s Award for SADTN

At the Mayor’s Pride event held at St Michael’s Manor on 12 March 2019, the Right Worshipful Mayor of St Albans City and District chose SADTN for her Mayor’s Recognition Award.  The annual Mayor’s Pride aims “to celebrate extraordinary people and outstanding organisations that make a positive contribution to the local community”.   In choosing SADTN for the one award that is solely for the Mayor to decide, Cllr Rosemary Farmer recognised that it has been serving a special part of the larger community for 45 years.  The Award is therefore in recognition of the hundreds of volunteers who have continued the work of our founders, Ray and Meg Bousfield, since they launched the charity in 1974 from their kitchen table in Beechwood Avenue, St Albans.

The Mayor’s Recognition Award

Co-op home bake is the icing on the cake

Teddy, Josef and Tom handing over the Co-op cheque to Robin and Jennie

Customers at the Co-op store in Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans, had already raised a massive £1,790.07 for a local charity through the Co-operative Local Community Fund when Leonie, the wife of store manager Tom Digby, added a further £79 from a special cake bake, helped by son Teddy and staff member Josef, who baked some of the cakes.  St Albans & District Talking Newspaper (SADTN) was on hand to receive the donations and to thank Co-op customers in person at a special event on Saturday 25th November.

SADTN volunteers Jenny Schon and Robin Christoforou showed customers how SADTN keeps local visually impaired residents in touch with what’s happening in their community, with a weekly audio programme of local news, interviews, discussions and more.

“These funds will help us to add to our recording studio facilities and also enable us to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, are unable to pick up and read newspapers and magazines – whether they’re living at home or in residential care.”

The Co-operative Community Fund is a national scheme that enables shoppers to help local charities receive one percent of the amount they spend.  For more about the Fund, check out www.; and for more about SADTN, click on to www.sadtn,

St Albans Talking Newspaper