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Seven Silver Surfer Awards for 2011 were handed out in the ceremony at Google Headquarters in Dublin recently. Three finalists were shortlisted in seven categories. The shortlisted entrants were chosen for the dedication and passion they showed in their quest to get online, regardless of their age. Hearty congratulations to all the amazing people who were nominated and a ‘well done’ to the award winners!
The recipient of the Golden IT Award was 90-year-old Larry Wilmott.Larry lives in a nursing home and has over the past 3 years learned all about computers. He is now active on Facebook, Twitter and Skype. Larry’s achievements were recognized by Sarah Jenkinson who works at Larry’s nursing home and who nominated him for the award.
Dorothy Harrington, a 76-year-old grandmother-of-four from Sandymount, Dublin,was the overall winner of the Google Silver Surfer Award with Age Action. Dorothy, proudly nominated by her husband Paddy, sold their home online, saving a small fortune in professional fees. She then went on to find a new home online, where they now live. She also makes Christmas cards and conducts much of their business online and has enormous fun doing so.
The Family Tutor Award is open to anyone UNDER the age of 50 and the winner was the lovely 12 year-old Aine Fleming from Kildare, who patiently helped her grandmother get to grips with her laptop, and who says that accessing the internet has changed her life for the better. Aine’s Aunt, Kathleen King, nominated Aine for the award.
Penny Pennefeather,62, from Wicklow computerized the scoring system for her Bridge Club of over 400 people and enthusiastically undertook to help other members come to grips with the new system. Nominated by her daughter, Jane Court, Penny was the worthy winner of the Hobbies on the Net Award.
The Winner of the Most Dedicated IT Learner Award was 53-year-old Bernie Wansboro, from Swords, Co Dublin who taught herself basic computing skills using computer manuals. She then bought a laptop that has opened up a whole new world for her. Bernie nominated herself for this category, and anyone who has ever tried to read a computer manual can only be in awe of her wonderful achievement!
James Richardson from Dublin was Winner of the IT Volunteer of the Year Award. This award which was open to people of all ages went to 63-year-old James who has helped over 1,500 older people learn basic computer and word processing skills over the past 7 years. James was nominated by colleagues who are impressed with his patience and empathy at the community based non-profit organization in Coolock.
The winner of the Social Networker Award was myself, 63-year-old Angela Gallagher,from Co. Limerick. With the initial help and extraordinary patience of my son Damian, who lives a considerable distance away,my blog and Facebook page got up and running. ‘ A Silver Voice from Ireland’ looks at issues facing older people as well as our social history and our diaspora and has opened up a whole new world to me.
Speaking at the awards ceremony the Minister for Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte said: “The Internet is no longer the exclusive domain of the young or indeed the technically oriented. A happy convergence of peer pressure, reducing costs, more user-friendly devices and smarter software design is encouraging us all to go on-line. Today’s winners are champions in the application of peer pressure. They have not let their age hold them back from being part of Ireland’s digital society and are setting a wonderful example for people of all ages.”
Sinéad Gibney, Social Action Manager, Google Ireland said: “This year we have seen a 50% increase in nominations for the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action which shows how many people over-50 are determined not to be left behind by new technology. At Google we are committed to helping people of all ages get online and to help them get the most from the Internet. These awards provide us with a fantastic platform to celebrate older people who have embraced modern technology and are reaping the benefits it has to offer. Everyone shortlisted today should be very proud of their achievements.”
Age Action Chief Executive Robin Webster said: “Computer skills are becoming increasingly important for everyone, enabling a person to keep abreast of what is happening in society and providing them with the means of having their voice heard. Some older people are still unsure as to whether or not they will be able to learn how to use a computer. Today’s winners should be an example to them of how people of all ages can attain these IT skills and how these skills can greatly enrich the quality of their lives. I would urge all older people who do not know how to use a computer not to be afraid and explore it. Learning how to use a computer and how to navigate the Internet can be a life-changing experience.”
Thanks to Google for a wonderful event, and to Age Action, a very special charity deserving of our support. Ciara Sherlock Events Manager at Age Action Ireland was extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Minister Pat Rabbitte and three of the candidates in the upcoming Presidential election in Ireland – Michael D Higgins, Martin McGuinness and Sean Gallagher, together with the MC – TV Personality Derek Davis,made it a very special and memorable event for all the participants. Thank you all!