IT has been years in the planning but Huntingdon’s new community radio station is now on air and listeners have given it a warm welcome.

Huntingdon Community Radio - HCRfm - made its debut on the radio waves at noon on Saturday surrounded by 150 well-wishers and with Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogley and Huntingdonshire District Council chairman Jeff Dutton in attendance.

Ironically, the first broadcast was not made at the radio station's new studios in the Saxongate Centre, but from a special stage in Chequers Court to cover the town's St George's Day celebrations.

A range of special guests joined the radio team to mark the historic moment including Matilda Perez, winner of last year's Huntingdon's Got Talent competition.

Station manager Bill Hensley said he was touched by the support so far. He said: "We have been getting thank you cards and well done cards. Somebody brought a cake and Brampton Pie shop brought us over lots of pies.

"We are a local radio station with local presenters, local voluntary groups, local sponsors. We are local, local, local. We we talk about the High Street, we are talking about Huntingdon High Street.

"People love Huntingdon and they are interested in local news stories."

Cllr Dutton, was asked to push the button for the first broadcast after Huntingdon mayor Jennifer Sarabia was forced to bow out because of ill-health.

He said: "It is a good thing that the station has come to fruition for people in our area. Bill Hensley and his colleagues have worked so hard to get it going."

Since the launch the radio has been playing a host of popular music, plus national news on the hour. Programmes covering all aspects of community life, including action and volunteering, arts and events, politics, education, sport and business are scheduled.

The station's own soap drama Huntsford, set in Wavelengths hair salon, will be starting next month.

Almost 100 volunteers are involved with the station, which as a registered charity must raise half of its running costs via donations and fundraising.

And its not too late to get involved. Every weekday from 7pm, voluntary groups are invited into the studio for an hour-long discussion about their organisation entitled Over To You.

A few last-minute complications mean the station is in need of presenters and producers to help with the show.

Mr Hensley said: "It is our flagship programme, where we involve voluntary groups. We are the only local radio station to offer free airtime to voluntary groups."

CONTACT: If you would like to get involved call Bill on 01480 414104 or e-mail bill.hensley@hcrfm.co.uk.