Shaftesbury Community Radio emergency programme

SHAFTESBURY’s community radio station, Alfred, is due to start FM broadcasting next year, but the volunteers behind this not-for-profit service have started producing a 30-minute programme of Shaftesbury area news and information, seven days-a-week.

“Things are changing by the minute, particularly concerning business operating hours and the support services available for self-isolating residents in Shaftesbury and the villages. That’s why we’re making this special programme every day,” said Alfred director Keri Jones.

“We’ve been working closely with Dorset Council, the Blackmore Vale Partnership team at the Abbey View Medical Centre and Shaftesbury Town Council. They’ve all been brilliant in helping us relay timely information each day.”

The Alfred Daily programme gives details of help available for residents, but it also aims to “bring the outside in” for locals who can’t leave their homes during the crisis, says Keri: “We want to keep members of our community connected with the world outside and the people and places they know and love.”

Regular features include a daily Where in Shaftesbury? quiz with Amber Harrison, a weekly walk with Heather Whitehead, local gardening tips, memories of growing up in Shaftesbury with Cath Toogood and Shaftesbury poetry with Richard Foreman and Bill Sherriff. All contributors follow social distancing guidelines and submit their reports and features by Skype, email attachment or phone.

Nick Crump has been capturing local wildlife sounds at dawn or dusk. These enchanting sounds end each of the daily broadcasts. “The dawn chorus at Duncliffe proved incredibly popular,” says Keri.

Shaftesbury pub quizmaster Paul Merefield has also been drafted in for a Saturday night quiz. “It’s a real team effort,” added Keri. “I think this gives Shaftesbury and the villages a real taste of how special our FM community radio service will be. In the meantime, we’re here every day, to keep our town and villages informed and entertained as long as this difficult situation continues.”

You can listen to a new programme each day on www.ThisIsAlfred.com

Pictured: Cath Toogood’s Shaftesbury memories have proved popular.