A group which provided support to the visually impaired across Ayrshire has been forced to close.

Since the late 1970's the Kilmarnock Visually Impaired Social Group has provided vital services to those with sight loss - including the weekly 'talking newspaper' service sent out to members.

But there are hopes the talking newspaper service could survive as a new charity.

Established in the late 1970s by the late Jim Bircham, a dedicated rehabilitation officer, the group initially operated under the name Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Social, Recreational, and Communication Services for the Blind.

Jim's vision and commitment enriched the lives of members across Ayrshire through a variety of events, activities, holidays, and day trips that fostered connections and camaraderie.

One of Jim's enduring contributions was the launch of the talking newspapers in 1983, known as the Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Tape Service for the Blind.

This innovative service, which included recorded church services and stories from local newspapers and provided vital information and entertainment to those unable to attend club meetings.

Following Jim's passing in January 2022, his son-in-law Rikki Farquharson took on the responsibility of revitalizing the club, expanding its membership, and continuing the legacy.

Rikki's dedication to producing the talking newspapers with a team of volunteers exemplified the club's mission of serving the visually impaired community.

But in recent years, fund-raising efforts had to be held to keep the group's building wind and watertight

Rikki revealed: "With a mixture of emotions, we regretfully announce the closure of the Kilmarnock Visually Impaired Social Group, an organisation that has been a cornerstone of support for the visually impaired community for nearly five decades.

"Continuing Jim's legacy and serving visually impaired individuals has been a privilege and a passion for me.

"I married into this family, which includes Jim's late wife Jacqueline, his daughter Lorna, and his granddaughters Natalie and Ashley. Since then, I have been actively involved in the club's activities, especially with the talking newspapers.

"The recent closure of the Kilmarnock Visually Impaired Social Group has left many deeply saddened, to everyone that has expressed profound disappointment, noting the personal significance of the club to Jim's family and the wider community.

"Despite this closure, efforts are under way to re-register the charity status to ensure the continuation of essential services like the Ayrshire Recording Services (Talking Newspapers for the Visually Impaired)."

Rikki added: "As we bid farewell to this chapter of our history, we celebrate the enduring impact of the Kilmarnock Visually Impaired Social Group.

"The legacy of compassion, camaraderie, and support that defined this organisation will continue to inspire us as we embark on new journeys of community service for the talking newspapers.

"We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to the success of the Kilmarnock Visually Impaired Social Group over the years. Your dedication and support have left an indelible mark on our community.

"Thank you for your understanding and continued support."