Listening to life stories

Posted on the 1st June 2018

Barbara Altounyan is a BBC trained TV and radio interviewer, and a professional Audio Biographer. She recorded the very first audio biography in her mid-twenties, when she realised her own father was terminally ill. Having recorded the entire story of his life, Barbara felt it was a priceless legacy and a much-treasured possession that she wanted others to have.

So, after a successful career in TV production, Barbara decided to volunteer her professional audio services for patients at her local hospice. 18 months later, one of her patients suggested she spread her services to other hospices. Following that, in 2016, Barbara started The Hospice Biographers initiative.

In January 2018, St Raphael’s became part of this wonderful project which has enabled patients to record their precious life stories on audio for free. Some of the Hospice volunteers have been trained to become interviewers and are now able to work with our patients and families to put together these beautiful memories. All the recordings are then transferred onto a St Raphael’s USB stick to keep.

Recently, St Raphael’s Hospice Director of Care Services, Gail Linehan, presented one of the first biographies to Soli Contractor (pictured below), who was hugely appreciative to receive this unique gift. Soli has been visiting St Raphael’s Men’s Den once a week and has also kindly produced a scrumptious chutney to be sold in Orangery Café at the Hospice.

Soli Contractor receiving his audio biography from Director of Care, Gail

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