AN appeal has been launched to celebrate the founder of Chard’s talking newspaper and a teacher in the town for 17 years on her 90th birthday.

Alma Bird taught at Manor Court School from 1973 until 1990, and during that time also helped launch Newsline.

She lived in Chard for years, but poor health in recent years meant Alma had to move to a care home near one of her daughters, in Dorset.

Sarah, one of Alma’s three children, said: “My mum taught at Manor Court until she retired at 60. She set up the talking newspaper, and she used to deliver to people every week.

“I am sure there are lots of people in Chard who know her, but she has lost touch with a lot of people since she moved down here.

“It would be really lovely if the people who know her, or those she taught over the years, could send her a birthday card.”

Alma’s first teaching job was at Taunton Primary School. At 23 she was offered a teaching job in Hong Kong, and set off on a long boat trip to get there.

Sarah added: “She spent six weeks on a P&O ferry, and when she was out there that she met my father. He was a doctor in the British army.”

Alma later travelled, but carried on teaching through extra tuition and helping children with reading.

On her return to Somerset, Alma became involved in a number of charities.

She took part in the Children’s Fund and the Children’s Society, and rose to director general of Taunton Samaritans.

In 1986, she helped to set up the talking newspaper, recording the Chard & Ilminster News for the region’s visually impaired.

Sarah said: “When the group started they were all using old cassette tapes.

“Mum helped to get the money to build the studio, and then she was the one that got them to switch to digital.

“There was a lot of worry about, but she got them using memory sticks and it has been great.”

Alma now has three children, two grandsons and two granddaughters.

Sarah added: “Then, in her 80s she trained as a flexercise teacher, so she could go round to the care homes in Chard. We used to laugh that she a pensioner and an exercise teacher.”

It is only in the past couple of years that Alma has had some problems with her health. She is still a ‘huge character’ in her nursing home, said Sarah.

If you want to send a birthday card to Alma, you can post it to:

17 Poplar Close, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 1TL.