I was delighted to receive an invitation for myself and a guest to the award ceremony for the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action, which took place in Dublin on Wednesday last. I was thrilled to be back in Google, with Louise, for the first time since I won the Social Networking Award in 2011, and to meet again with the stalwarts of Age Action – Robin Webster, Eamon Timmins and Pauline Power.
Google epitomizes everything that is young, innovative and fun. This is clear from the moment you step through the front door! All the more wonderful then that they sponsor the annual Silver Surfer Awards that celebrate older people and technology. A perfect marriage in many ways.
The ceremony took place in the spacious and comfortable state of the art Google auditorium. We were entertained by the talented Bugle Babes with their Andrews Sisters type repertoire and harmonies, and their (perfectly straight) seamed stockings (George Hook checked them out).Their singing was beautiful and well enjoyed by everyone!
The ever young George Hook, broadcaster, journalist and rugby pundit hosted the ceremony with great wit and humour, and Mr Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources attended – both of whom are, appropriately enough, Seniors. Minister Rabbitte expressed the wish that no senior citizen be left behind in this era of instant communication. Sinead Gibney, Social Action Manager with Google, and Robin Webster, the indefatigable Chief Executive of Age Action were also present. Sinead treated us to a reading of the poem ‘When I am old’, which can be seen on my blog page here . Pauline Power who operates the Getting Started Programme with Age Action and Anne Marie Walsh, the Event Manager, ensured that things flowed smoothly.
And so to the fabulous people whose terrific achievements were to be honoured at these awards. There were several categories as follows:
New to IT Award
A person over the age of 50 who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become an IT user
Austin was the winner of this category. His story is inspirational – having left school early he had some catching up to do in later life and this he did using technology. He has written a biography for his family.
Hobbies on the Net Award was next with 5 finalists
An older person who uses the Internet to pursue their passion or hobby or who uses IT for communication and social networking
I was particularly interested in this category as my ears pricked up when I heard the name Seamus Harkin from Creeslough. Creeslough is 7 mile s from my home village of Carrigart, Co Donegal. On an all-too-rare visit back to my roots this summer, we were in search of the site of a former 19th Century Revenue Barracks in Creeslough. We were given Seamus Harkin’s phone number. Seamus Harkin is all things Creeslough and is a highly respected fountain of all sorts of historical knowledge in this particular area He was most helpful and accommodating. We spoke several times by phone, but I had not met him until today, so that was a particularly pleasant meeting! Thanks again Seamus for sharing your knowledge and time with us.
Seamus is known as the Singing Undertaker at home and he fixes fiddles as a hobby- how interesting is that! Well done on this achievement Seamus agus Tír Chonaill Abú!
IT Tutor(s) of the year
An individual or group of any age who provides voluntary support to older learners. Anne won this award for her work in upskilling some 40 tutors. Anne is from Louth and were other nominees – Drogheda & District Support 4 Older People. Small county with big hearts for older people!
Golden IT Award
An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their lives
I love the Golden category – here are people of advanced years who have engaged with what can be a challenging medium – perhaps they came to it after losing a life partner – and here they have found a new way of doing things, new ways to keep in touch, and have enhanced their lives. Michael was the winner this year. He has long been an advocate of technology and encourages older people especially to use it . Michael has a blog The Commonplace Book that is worth a visit for the quotes alone! The judges for all of these categories had a challenging task to pick just one from each of these categories as they are heroes all!
Google Silver Surfer Award
An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure.
The winner of this over arching award was David, who has become something of a techie since his retirement and has indulged his passions for music and digital photography, and entertains his grandchildren with his technical expertise! With Apologies to Maura and Fred for the blurred photographs. Michael in this category was an inspiration to all of us – he suffered a stroke but then used his experience to help others and technology is a perfect medium for him. Well done to you all!
This is an appropriate place to give a huge shout out for Age Action Ireland This is a n Irish Charity that promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. Age Action is regularly in the news headlines speaking out about issues that affect all of us who are older and more vulnerable. Ageing is an issue that hopefully will affect all of us of every age. Do drop in to their webpage here to see the wonderful work that they do, – work that enhances the lives of thousands of people and of society as a whole.
At a delicious and beautifully presented lunch afterwards ,entertainment was provided by the excellent and splendidly named barbershop quartet, the Sea Sharps .
It was a great event and hearty congratulations again to all the finalists – winners all!
As we left the premises,I couldn’t resist taking a shot of the decoration in the washrooms.
The very colourful landing with floor, walls and ceiling covered with faces – after all that is what Google is all about – people of ALL ages!
Further biographical info on the winners can be found here
Thank you Google, and thank you Age Action!