Once again it was such a thrill to be in the audience to see, hear about and celebrate with the finalists of the annual Age Action Silver Surfer Awards! This year we were in the lovely surroundings of the campus of Dublin City University (DCU), an appropriate place to celebrate involvement of older people who have chosen to advance themselves by learning how technology and engagement with social media can enhance their lives. DCU proudly carries the badge of an Age Friendly University and what an appropriate venue for the 2015 Awards.
The proceedings were in the capable hands of the larger than life radio and TV personality, George Hook who knows a thing or two about being a member of the older generation. His humorous and incisive introductions were heartily enjoyed by the audience.
Eamon Timmons, Chief Executive of Age Action made the very relevant point that the real winners of these awards are the older people ‘out there’ who are inspired by this years awards to engage with modern technology and reap the benefits of the positive change it will make to their lives at so many different levels.
The award that is one of my personal favourites is the New to IT Award as these people represent the hundreds who are taking first steps to discovering a whole new world, where information is literally at their fingertips, where new friendships can be developed, where family can be contacted, where new interests can be nurtured, where existing interests can be consolidated. Michael Monaghan was the winner. Following a stroke, Michael from County Meath trained himself to use modern technology for everyday tasks such as bill paying and keeping in touch with family via Skype and Viber.
Equally inspirational were all of the finalists in this category – shining examples of determination to get to grips with the modern world and technology. Well done to all of them for indeed they are all winners!
The next category was to celebrate someone who uses the internet to pursue a passion or hobby. The very deserving winner this year was Stanley who is not only a vintage car enthusiast who sources parts on the internet, but also a sci-fi author whose first book is available on Amazon, entitled The Adam and Eve Chronicles. How about that! Congratulations Stanley!
The job of judging must be such a challenge as each finalist was a wonderful example of how the internet can be used to indulge an interest in so many fields! Well done to every one of you !
Up next was the Golden IT Award. This award is for someone in their golden years – over 80 – who uses technology to enhance their life.
Cork man Philip took the honours here. Philip operates an inspirational ‘thought for the day’ service sending out meaningful messages all over the world every morning! Well done Philip…you are truly inspirational!
The Tutor of the Year award is pivotal to the great work of the Age Action ‘Getting Started’ programme. The Getting Started programme aims to introduce seniors all across Ireland to the magic of the Internet, to enable them to communicate and to participate at various levels in the new technology that can literally transform their lives. The winner this year was Waterford tutor Pat Power who has lead 15 courses of students in the programme. Well done indeed Pat!
This year too saw a very special award to an exceptional tutor Nicholas Simms who has not only tutored 50 + beginners but has also come to grips with technology that enabled him to tutor blind course participants! Well done Nicholas on such dedication, justly acknowledged!
The jewel in the crown of the annual Silver Surfer Awards is THE Silver Surfer Award. This year’s deserving winner is Margaret Mullett, who used the tragedy of losing her husband to hemochromatosis to get online and raise awareness of the condition and thereby possibly saved many lives. Many congratulations Margaret!
As Eamon remarked earlier, all of Ireland’s Silver Surfers are the winners here…we need to get online, we need to embrace modern technology, we need to identify how we oldies can influence society, we need the support of the hard working volunteer tutors and we need the support of Age Action to help get us there!
Finally, and as ever, the entertainment at the event was simply wonderful, and how lovely to meet up with Silver Surfers from across Ireland…these feisty women made my day!
I was delighted to meet old friends and make new ones!