Willing readers sought for new talking books project


A BOOK of memories of the past has been instrumental in creating books of the future.

Chrissie Sandison, who published her book of West Side reminiscences, Slyde in the right direction, in the spring, decided that royalties from her book should go towards the costs of putting a selection of Shetland books on tape and CD.

These could then be borrowed from the library’s talking books section.

There was already a demand for Shetland books on tape from many of the 350 people who enjoy talking books, and with the encouragement that Mrs Sandison’s offer gave, a group called Da Soond o’ Shetlan was set up.

Mrs Sandison’s daughter, Thelma Leslie, is chairwoman of the group, and said that they were now on the look-out for people to record the first few books.

Mrs Leslie said: “The books would be generated in Shetland but not necessarily dialect books. They would be books not available through the normal talking books service.”

People willing to read the books would be paid a fee, but first they would have to take a voice test to assess them for suitability. Different books need different voices, said Mrs Leslie, and she would welcome men to the service.

Women might be more likely to come forward but certain books the group wants to put on tape, such as the dialect Lowrie series by Joseph Gray and the James Irvine books, require a male voice.

However the whole idea has not been as easy as the group initially thought. Mrs Leslie said that producing a talking book requires the hire of a recording studio and a technician, and it “all adds up”. It will cost between £1,600-£1,700 to do the first book, which will be Slyde in the right direction, and with the royalties from this book the group has nearly enough money already to do a pilot.

If folk enjoy Mrs Sandison’s book, and it gets positive feedback, more books could be recorded.

But the talking books will not bring in any money and the venture will have to be financed by fundraising. Da Soond o’ Shetlan has approached Disability Shetland for funding and next year will ask the lottery.

Mrs Sandison herself is the most enthusiastic proponent of the venture. Unable to read normal books because of failing eyesight, she gets a lot of pleasure out of talking books and enjoys The Shetland Times and Shetland Life on tape. She has always said it would be fine to access other material, and with Da Soond o’ Shetlan this may soon become possible.

And it is not just elderly or housebound people who benefit from talking books – many folk enjoy listening to them while driving or doing household chores such as ironing.

  • The committee would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in reading a book or supporting the project in any way. For further information contact: secretary Kathleen Hawkins on (01595) 741300 or email stanevatsto@hotmail.co.uk, or chairwoman Thelma Leslie on (01595) 840 267 or email laxfirth.cottage@virgin.net

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