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Age UK Internet Champions 2012 announced
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 (pictured above), and Brenda O’Mulloy, 83 from Slough, the title of Joint internet Champions 2012.
The role will see Brenda and Keith 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's 'silver hairs' impressed the judges
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 www.silverhairs.co.uk. 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.'
How the internet connected Brenda with her family
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.'
A vital role
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.'
Age UK's digital inclusion projects
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.