Age UK Internet Champions 2012 announced
Published on 31 January 2012 12:01 AM
June Whitfield announces new Internet Champions for people in later life
Age UK last night revealed the names of its Joint Internet Champions for 2012 at a glittering awards ceremony at the Royal Society in London. June Whitfield, Actress and Age UK Ambassador, alongside the UK's Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, awarded Keith Paterson, 80 from Suffolk, and Brenda O'Mulloy, 83 from Slough, the title of Joint internet Champions 2012. The role will see them work with the Charity over the coming year to help show the 5.7 million people over 65 who have never used the Internet that they too can enjoy the many benefits it has to offer - such as keeping in touch with friends and family and making savings online.
Keith and Brenda were two of four finalists who attended the awards ceremony and beat off stiff competition from hundreds of applicants to be crowned joint 2012 Champions. Keith impressed the judges with his work to help people in later life get online by acting as an Internet guru through his website Visit the Silverhairs website. Keith answers older people's computer related questions and helps breakdown the barriers that stop people from learning to get online.
Keith said: 'I am absolutely over the moon to be named the Joint Internet Champion for 2012! Being severely deaf means that I struggle to use the telephone so the computer is a lifeline for me. I hope I can encourage others to take the first step and get online.'
Brenda's story was one that really resonated with the judges, having lost her husband she was left feeling lonely and isolated with her daughter living 200 miles away. Brenda's son bought her a laptop and helped her learn to use it; now she uses facebook, Skype, MSN and saves money by comparing prices online.
Brenda said: 'The first thing I do when I get up each morning is turn off my alarm and turn on my computer. The Internet has completely changed my life since my husband passed away as I can chat to my children and see my grandchildren whenever I want via Skype. I am always trying to persuade my friends to get online and now I am an Internet Champion I can use that passion to help many more people.'
David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion at Age UK, said: 'The search for the new Age UK Internet Champion resulted in more nominations than ever before. Both Keith and Brenda displayed the enthusiasm, motivation and desire to help others that we were looking for in a Champion and we look forward to working alongside them to help encourage other people in later life to get online. The Internet offers vast financial and social benefits such as keeping in touch with grandchildren, discovering new hobbies and interests, and saving money on products and services by shopping around. The role of Internet Champion is vital to spread the word to those who are missing out on the vast social and financial benefits.'
June Whitfield, ‘Absolutely Fabulous' Actress and Age UK Ambassador, commented: 'It was an honour to award these inspirational people the title of Age UK Internet Champion 2012. As an Internet ‘learner' myself I know first hand how important it is to have encouragement, support and advice available when you take that first step. Keith and Brenda's stories have inspired me to continue to learn new skills online and really maximise the benefits the Internet has to offer. Well done to them both.'
Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion said: 'I have been incredibly fortunate in my role as UK Digital Champion to meet so many inspiring people whose lives have been transformed by the Internet. 8.4M UK adults have still never been online, many of them older. This is why the work of the national ‘Digital Champion' movement including Age UK Internet Champions is so vital in voicing the huge benefits that can be gained in taking that leap to accessing a whole new online world'
Age UK manages a number of UK-wide digital inclusion programmes, including the Digital Inclusion Network consisting of 200+ partner organisations and Connect with IT, a comprehensive digital inclusion campaign involving itea and biscuits week, myfriends online week, Age UK Internet Champion of the Year competition and Digital Champion IT volunteering. More than 200,000 people in later life have been helped to date.
For more information about how Age UK can help you get online visit www.ageuk.org.uk/it, call 0800 169 65 65 or contact your local Age UK.
If you would like to speak to Keith or Brenda please contact Ashley Cox in the press office on 020 3033 1429 pr email Ashley.firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
Age UK works in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI. For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
Age UK is inspired by the belief that it can improve the lives of people in later life. It celebrates ageing and believes it presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges at home and abroad. Age UK will challenge ageist prejudice in society, provide services that address market failures and support the public and private sectors to design age-friendly products and services. It will support people to remain in their own homes through campaigning and practical services and its Information and Advice service will offer millions of people support on a range of issues from claiming benefits to staying fit and healthy.
Age UK will fund biomedical research that helps tackle the ill health and poor quality of life that are too common as people age. Working with over 350 partners across the country, Age UK helps influence local decisions and delivers the most appropriate services. Its network of over 475 shops will act as a focal point for the local community, providing information and help with local services. Age UK works across the globe as well as in the UK, with its international partner, Help Age International, championing older people's rights and needs and as an active member of the DEC.