Mencap RadioA group of people with learning disabilities in Stratford-upon-Avon are to start running and presenting their own weekly radio show from next week.

Radio Mencap will be an hour-long show from 11am to 12noon every Friday on Welcombe Community Radio. Local people with learning disabilities will devise, present and run the show, supported by Heart of England Mencap and its day activity service, Mencap Pathway.

The show will come live from Tyler House Hub, where Welcombe Community Radio has a broadcast studio, supported by Stratford Town Trust.

Radio Mencap will be a mixture of music and talk and include pre-recorded interviews and features at local events, as well as live studio time.

Val Rainbow, arts coordinator for Heart of England Mencap, will help to run the show. “We’ll be going out and recording interviews, doing a weather report, coming up with our own jingles,” she said. “Our customers at Mencap Pathway are really enthusiastic – this was their idea, and this is very much their show.”

Radio Mencap has been made possible thanks to the fundraising efforts of one man. Last April, Gary Stokes, from Long Compton in Warwickshire, took on the Coventry Way Challenge, aiming to raise as much as possible to support Heart of England Mencap by getting sponsorship to run the gruelling 40-mile route. 

Stokes had spent a day volunteering with the charity through his employer, National Grid. He knew Pathway customers he met wanted to set up their own radio show – and set about trying to fundraise the £1,500 needed to make it happen, which would pay for staff, studio time and outdoor broadcast equipment.

Stokes completed the challenge and reached his target, helped by match-funding from National Grid. “To see what my fundraising has actually made possible is just incredible, and not something you usually get to do,” he said.

“It’s so rewarding to see how excited everyone is about the show – and I can’t wait to tune in and listen.”  

Rainbow said the charity can’t thank Stokes enough. “Pathway is all about providing meaningful activities for our customers, and the chance to get involved in our own radio show; the skills, confidence and enjoyment that will bring, is just fantastic.” 

To tune in to Mencap Radio go to www.welcomberadio.co.uk