THE new home of Colchester's talking newspaper has been officially opened by Gazette editor James Wills.

Colchester and District Talking Newspaper has played an important role in the lives of blind and visually impaired people for more than 40 years.

Mr Wills was also shown the ropes by some of the group's 70 volunteers and spoke to the group about the future of local newspapers.

The newspaper provides recordings to about 100 users across the area and its content is made up entirely of the content of the Gazette and the Essex County Standard.

Chairman Alan Rustage said: "Local newspapers play a vital role for the community and our role is to make sure they reach as much of the community as possible."

The team, based at Essex University, record a weekly news update every Thursday night.

A recording is then sent out to all its users in the mail. A deal has been struck with Royal Mail which means the group does not have to pay for delivery.

Once the listener is finished with the recording, it is sent back to the studio, also free of charge.

Mr Rustage, who has read the sports column for 42 years, added: "We are in the process of digitalising things so instead of the cassette, we are now sending out memory sticks.

"But there are a few people, mostly older listeners, who still prefer to have a cassette, so we will continue to offer that as well."

Gazette editor James Wills said: "It was a privilege to be invited along to the talking newspaper's new studio.

"We at the Gazette aim to inform as many people in the community about local news, events and sport and the role the volunteers at Colchester and District Talking Newspaper play is vital in that."