Routinely these days we retain numerous photographs of our loved ones, yet rarely their voices. We hope that in addition to helping hospice patients with closure, these audio interviews will also mean their families will be able to hear their voices and memories for generations to come. The service will be free of charge and will be offered to 200 hospices across the country within the next 5 years. Interviews will be conducted by volunteer regional and national journalists, who will be trained by the charity in regional clusters across the UK.
Interviews will be conducted with secure hardware. After being interviewed, patients will be given a USB memory stick containing their audio recording. Thereafter the interviews will be securely uploaded to an online digital database hosted with the cloud storage company Box. The audio life stories will remain strictly confidential for a minimum of ten years. If patients consent, we will offer access to designated family members and for research academics.
Barbara recorded her very first audio biography when she was young and realised her own father was terminally ill. She postponed her career as a reporter, "borrowed" a BBC audio recorder and set about recording his entire life story on audio.
Her father the medical scientist and flying instructor Dr Roger Altounyan, originally from Aleppo in Syria, was the inspiration for a character in Arthur Ransome's classic novel Swallows & Amazons. He was also an asthmatic who went on to create an anti-asthma treatment for fellow sufferers, using himself as a human guinea pig.
After his premature death, Barbara embarked on a career in broadcasting with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. She co-founded the independent TV company Flame TV with broadcaster Roger Bolton. After they sold Flame TV, Barbara established another company called The Audio Biographer, which has taken her and her beloved Roland R26 audio recorder all over the world.
She also decided to volunteer her professional audio services for patients at her local hospice. After 18 months of volunteering, one of her patients suggested she spread her services to hospices everywhere. The idea for The Hospice Biographers was born.
Today The Hospice Biographers is a nationwide registered charity and aims to offer free of charge life story audio services at some 200 hospices across the UK.