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Decades of support for charity from Roberts Radio


Roberts Radio has been a long supporter of BWBF and we are very proud of the relationship. Read more about how our partnership works.

Gerry Thorn and Leslie Burrage
Gerry Thorn and Leslie Burrage

For the last 60 years, BWBF has been lucky enough to be supported by the UK’s most prestigious consumer electronics company, Roberts Radio.

The Yorkshire-based business designs and manufactures most of the charity’s specially adapted equipment, working with the team at BWBF as well as visually impaired people to develop sets which meet their needs.

Roberts’s Chairman, Leslie Burrage, says the relationship between his firm and the charity is one which benefits both organisations as the sharing of information also helps with the development of their more traditional products.

An example of this is the bookmark facility – a function which was requested by BWBF after users said it would be beneficial and something Roberts has since integrated into its standard range of products as well as the adapted ones.

The Duet, one of the modified sets Roberts created for BWBF, was one of the company’s commercial products and in the process of developing it, they also made an adapted version for blind and partially sighted people.

Mr Burrage says they often try to produce variables of sets so it’s a straight forward transition when they move onto developing a piece of equipment specifically for those with sight loss.

However, some of the equipment is bespoke, such as the Concerto which was the first custom-made set they produced for BWBF in 2007.

Gerry Thorn, Roberts Radio’s Product and IT Director, explains how when they are developing a new piece of equipment, it starts with a brief being discussed to find out which facilities and functions BWBF is looking for and what the needs of the visually impaired people are.

“We try to take account of the regular models so when we do produce variables it’s straight forward,” he says.

“The Concerto was the first bespoke model we did – up to then all the models for BWBF had been modified.”

He says there was a detailed brief for the Concerto and it took the team a while to look at different cosmetics so they could come up with the best product.

“It’s an evolutionary process,” he said.

Mr Thorn has been with the company for more than four decades and can recall working on the production line of the original R600 model.

“I started with Roberts in 1970 and saw them move first into DAB and now internet radio,” he said.

“It’s never standing still this industry.”

Mr Burrage says the development of the Concerto was the most memorable for him, especially given its success.

“In terms of numbers of units it’s the most prolific one which has been distributed,” he said.

“The process was also beneficial to the subsequent model – the Concerto 2 - as the team had lots of interaction with the people who use the radios.

“The difference they make to people is immense – it adds a new dimension to their lives and keeps them in the 21st century. It’s a mutually rewarding partnership.

“It’s an enormous kudos to have the on-going contract with BWBF.”

BWBF CEO Margaret Grainger said the charity highly values its relationship with Roberts.

“We are honoured such a well-known and highly thought of company as Roberts has supported us for so long and we’re looking forward to the relationship continuing for many years to come.

“The needs of our visually impaired listeners are a key part of the development process and working with a firm with so much experience means all our radios are the highest quality.

“We are always working together with Roberts looking at new models – we know how popular USB is and Bluetooth as well is very popular so we are always looking into it.”

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