When 75-year-old Margaret Corston saw a poster in her local library advertising a course in basic radio broadcasting skills, she little thought that some 18 months later she would be hosting her own weekly show, with thousands of listeners, on community radio.
At the time, she admits, her confidence needed building up. She'd been on her own for 10 years since the death of her husband and 'didn't do anything very much; other than dancing, which helped keep her active. Nevertheless, she was bold enough, when asked at the taster session what skills she would like to learn, to answer, 'How about presenting?'
To my surprise, he said yes, and gave me an application form: she says. 'There was a postal strike at the time but I thought, "I'm not going to miss the opportunity'; so I took the form down myself. I asked the studio manager if he thought I could make it as a presenter, and he said, "Well, you're talkative enough!"
It started from there: From small beginnings - her first course was called 'First Steps in Radio' - Margaret began to learn more, taking an accredited course in Media Techniques in Radio. She was soon presenting Community Corners, on Bolton FM, the community radio station that has grown out of the work of DBBC - Diversity in Barrier-Breaking Communications - a ground- breaking, volunteer-run project which uses radio broadcasting techniques as a means of raising students' confidence and supporting them to progress on to further learning, voluntary work or paid employment.
Like many other learners on the project, Margaret has found the experience transformational. 'It's done a lot for me. I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's taught me a skill I never had before, and I never thought at 75 I would be presenting a radio programme.
I'm highly delighted. I've got a lot more friends. My daughter now says, "Can you pencil in an appointment for me, Mum?" And, of course, I've now won something: Margaret's pride at winning an individual Adult Learners' Week Award is evident. She is just as pleased at the recognition that DBBC is getting. The project has won a national Inspiring Projects Award, sponsored by the Open University.
'It's tremendous; says Dorothy Martland, a former school teacher and one of the project's founders. 'It's good when you are recognised for something you know is good. You don't want to blow your own trumpet but if someone else is prepared to blow it for you, that's really good:
DBBC: Training for a Better Future was set up in 1999, though it had its beginnings in the efforts of a few radio enthusiasts, including Dorothy, to set up Bolton's first commercial radio station, 'run along community lines' The group secured studios in Bolton's Ashburner Street Market and began to put a team of people together, offering training, and broadcasting to the market on Saturdays.
When they received news, in 1999, that the licence they had applied for had been given to another group, they were disappointed but realised how useful radio training had been in raising confidence and self-esteem. Dorothy saw an opportunity and grasped it. She and her team decided to establish DBBC to train people who would benefit from confidence-building and retraining, devising a course which the Open College of the North West (now called Ascentis) agreed to montior and accredit. It was the start of a learning journey for all involved.
'Over the years we have diversified: Dorothy explains. 'We have taken on not only young people, but older people, people who are out of work, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems.The project has helped many young people return to mainstream education, and has helped retired and disabled people find new meaning in their lives.
Member since: 10th July 2012
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