The Big 40 for Calibre

  |  Published: Jun 27th 2014
Literary cake made for Calibre by Sherry Hostler from the Cake House, Tring

The champagne corks have been popping at Calibre Audio Library as the charity celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

 In 1974, three formidable ladies, Monica McMullen, Ros Thornton and Susan Beazley recorded Calibre’s first book, L. M. Mitchell’s Anne of Green Gables for Susan’s partially-sighted son, James. They used the most modern technology of the time - a cassette recorder - from where the name Calibre is derived.

 Calibre, which provides audio books for people unable to read print, came to Wendover in 1976, then to the Tindal Hospital, Aylesbury in 1980 before moving to its current location in Weston Turville in 1997. In the early days just one sack of books a day was sent out; now 1,800 books are despatched to tens of thousands of members nationwide.

 Crime writer and Calibre patron, Simon Brett, who has recently won the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger award,* gave the keynote speech at a special party. Brenda Horne and Brenda Usherwood, who between them have volunteered 50 years to the charity, were presented with bouquets and long service badges.

 Everyone at the party took away a special 40th Anniversary CD which re-tells the history of Calibre including reminiscences of Kim Corbin, who has worked as Calibre since 1980. Other highlights include: the visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra; the Prime Minister David Cameron and his Cabinet recording children’s stories; a feature on ‘Challenge Anneka’; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award, and the extensive press coverage following an unprecedented amount of requests for Fifty Shades of Grey from Calibre female members aged over 75yr.

 Chairman Ian Yeoman said:  “It is thanks to all our 200 volunteers and staff that Calibre’s service helped over 18,000 people to enjoy the pleasure of reading last year, sending out over 400,000 audio books – that’s an incredible 200 books per hour!  Calibre remains unique in offering a subscription-free service to individual members with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities which prevent them reading normal print.”

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