Mansfield talking newspaper editor has a bus named after him

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A man who has selflessly dedicated 40 years of his life to being the editor of a Mansfield talking newspaper has been honoured by having a bus named after him.

Bill Purdue, 71, is the editor of the Mansfield and Ashfield Echo, which is recorded for the blind and partially-sighted once a fortnight and sent out free of charge.

He was nominated to be one of Nottingham-based Skills Holidays’ Stars of Skills after the travel firm appealed for local heroes to have a coach named after them, as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Bill, of Skegby was put forward by fellow volunteer on the newspaper, Janet Roberts, and was presented with the honorary namesake at Skills’ open day at their head office in Bulwell on Sunday, (April 7).

Bill said: “It’s a big surprise, it’s amazing. I’m very flattered. If people see my name on the side of that bus, they will say ‘who on Earth’s that?”

Retired librarian Bill, who has previously worked in hospital radio, had gone along to a meeting in 1979 of a group of people thinking about setting up a talking newspaper.

The pilot edition, only 30 minutes long, was recorded in the former Mansfield studio of BBC Radio Nottingham in the October of that year.

He had already been editor of a talking newspaper in Coventry, in the West Midlands, but had returned to Nottinghamshire for a librarian job.

Forty years later, he is still going, helping to co-ordinate the recordings of content as part of a team of around 20 volunteers.

Over the years, the team have paid for cassette-copiers out of their own pocket, and had to find somewhere to record.

“It’s all local news,” said Bill, who also volunteers at Queen’s Medical Centre. We started off with The Mansfield Chad - they said ‘yes, you can use our material.”

As well as using local newspaper content, the volunteers also record their own interviews, articles and features for each 75-minute edition, which is available on CD or memory stick and posted free-of-charge by Royal Mail. The team meet every other Tuesday at a studio in Mansfield and the newspaper is distributed to 125 people in the Mansfield area and Ashfield district, with one former native having the paper delivered in Wales.