Facebook’s oldest user

107-year-old Lilly Strugnell, facebook's oldest user, with 2011 joint Age UK Internet Champion of the Year Margaret Goodwin

Born in 1904, the year the portable typewriter was invented, Lilly Strugnell from Gloucestershire is the oldest person registered on Facebook.

The great-grandmother was given her first lesson in online social networking by Age UK's joint 2011 Internet Champion, Margaret Goodwin, who we caught up with to chat about social networking and meeting Lilly.

Tell me about how you met Lilly, Margaret?

I live in a retirement block which is owned by Hannover Housing Association. Lilly lives in another estate owned by the same company. I got to hear about Lilly because Hannover’s Media Officer wanted to feature her in something as she is coming up to her 107th birthday. And he’s had contact with me because I’m Age UK’s 2011 Internet Champion, so he thought could put the two of us together, so I could teach Lilly about the internet. Lilly said she’d love to learn about the internet, so we did it.

I showed her on a laptop, and daughter (aged 79) was on another laptop. I showed her how she could find new knitting patterns on YouTube, because she knits blankets for ‘the poor people overseas’, and when she was younger, she used to knit dolls. I showed her some of the online tutorials on YouTube, so she could show others how to knit squares.

What’s Lilly like as a person?

Amazing, she’s absolutely amazing. She’s so full of life, and so interested in everything. I’ve met older people, and even people of 100, but I’ve never met someone so old who’s so young! She’s amazing.

She really is a lovely lady and still gets around on own steam (using a three wheel walker.)

What was Lilly’s motivation for getting on to facebook, do you think?

I think the fact that you can use facebook to keep in touch with family is the first thing that interested her. Also looking at old photos on facebook, she was quite interested in that too. I explained to her how she could put her own photos up as well. She has a fantastic memory, and can still remember things before World War 1!

Do you think she’ll use Facebook a lot now?

Yes, I really do. She’s very nosey [laughs], she’s really interested in everything. Most people who talk to her say, 'You must have seen so many changes'. Lilly said she’s sick of hearing that, but that she has seen so many changes, and that’s really interesting.

Whilst I was there, she was looking at both the laptops, asking how they were different. She was really interested, and later, as she was going to lunch, she said, ‘I’ve made up my mind: I’m going to get a lap top.’

She’s a lovely lady, a delight.

Do you think facebook, and other social networking sites like twitter, are relevant to older people?

Golly, yes, absolutely. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re more relevant in a way.

They matter more to older people than younger people. Young people go on social networking websites just as a matter of course, but older people value them more, as they understand how important it is to be connected to friends and family.

What advice would you give an older person reading this thinking of registering on facebook?

Do it! That’s what I’d say. Just do it. It’s also a very valuable tool for family who are at a distance from a relative. If an older person goes on facebook every day, then you know they’re up and about, and active. If they don’t register one day, that alerts people. It could be a warning sign.

And I suppose it’s also a good way for people in later life to keep in touch with their grandchildren, given how much young people now use social networking websites.

Quite a lot of schools now allow their pupils to upload their work on to the school website, so they can show their grandparents what they’ve done today. And grandparents always want to know what their grandchildren have been up to, so the kids can say, 'Grandma, come and have a look'. I think it’s a great thing.

Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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