A VOLUNTEER-LED service is celebrating 40 years of helping blind and visually impaired people stay connected to the community.

Every week, Bury Pipeline creates 'talking newspapers' — audio versions of local news — keeping some 125 people across the borough in the loop and up to date.

The charity is powered by a committee made up of six people, and a 35-strong team of volunteers who help to read, copy, record, edit and distribute audio versions of the Bury and Radcliffe Times to people free of charge.

To mark 40 years of providing this invaluable service, special guests, including the Mayor of Bury, Cllr Jane Black, attended a celebration and buffet at Greenmount Cricket Club on Tuesday.

Co-founder Jean Spencer said: "To celebrate 40 years is just brilliant.

"I'm so pleased that we are still going. Sadly, the closure of the Prestwich and Whitefield Guide means that there is less local news reaching us. It is a sign of the times.

"But we will keep on providing this invaluable service for people across Bury while we still have our local newspaper."

Bury Pipeline was founded in 1978 by Jean and the late Dorothy Williams, both of whom had a background in social work.

Since then, it has been providing a weekly 60-minute recording on CD or USB of news from the Bury Times, Radcliffe Times and formerly the Prestwich and Whitefield Guide.

In its heyday in the 1980s, about 300 people were accessing the recordings. Today, there are about 125 people from Bury, Radcliffe, Tottington and across the borough who listen to the audio version of the newspaper.

Jean, aged 81, from Ramsbottom, said: "The day we made the first recording, talking newspapers were just springing up. We said we thought Bury should have one.

"We were given the go ahead, providing it didn't cost any money.

"Everyone rallied round and it took off."

For 15 years, Bury Pipeline was based out of the Seedfield Resource Centre in Parkinson Street, Limefield. But the centre was vacated in 2016 with the view for it to be used for housing.

In July 2016, the charity moved into Tottington Library. Last year, the site was threatened with closure after Bury Council announced that 10 libraries were set to close in a bid to save cash. However, the venue has since been saved by the Friends of Tottington Library, and has since reopened as the Tottington Centre.

"With the help of residents and councillors, the library was saved and we managed to keep our home", Jean said.

She added: "Bury Pipeline exists to help people to be more independent. It means they do not have to rely on someone. They can listen to the national news on TV but local news is vary sparse in audio form.

"For people living on their own, and some who are quite elderly and cannot get out, it is like a friend dropping through the door."

The charity does not receive any funding and relies solely on donations.

For more information about the service, or to donate, please contact Mrs Spencer on 01706 824401.