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Tuesday 14 August 2018

He may be 99 but this 'silver surfer' can fly under bridges and carry out recon missions - all from the comfort of his own home

Award winner and retired RAF Pilot Gordon Lawson from Carrigtwohill in Co. Cork became interested in technology in his 80s
Award winner and retired RAF Pilot Gordon Lawson from Carrigtwohill in Co. Cork became interested in technology in his 80s
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

He’s one year short of his hundredth birthday, but that doesn’t stop Gordon Lawson from flying under bridges and going on reconnaissance missions to Africa in his WW2 Vampire jet.

But unlike his days as an RAF pilot, Mr Lawson (99), embarks on his solo flights from the comfort of his home in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork where he uses a flight simulator to visit his old RAF training camp in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe or wherever else takes his fancy.

“It’s you sitting in the cockpit, approaching and landing and doing acrobatics. You fly under Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol – that’s a favourite,” he says with a laugh.

But using his flight simulator is just one of the technologies he has embraced over the past 20 years after becoming interested in computers in his 80s so he wouldn’t ‘fall behind the times’.

He surfs the net to stay in touch with friends, downloads music and to write up the minutes of meetings as secretary of his local church congregation.

He also helps deliver meals-on-wheels to other older people in his neighbourhood.

He was among eight recipients of the ninth annual Silver Surfer Awards announced at a reception in Dublin yesterday to honour older people who have embraced technology for the betterment of themselves and their communities.

Mr Lawson was awarded the Golden IT award for his enthusiastic use of ipads, smartphones and other technology.

“It’s stimulating and gives me an interest other than looking at the four walls,” he said.

The overall winner was Margaret Byrne (65), from Tallaght, south Dublin, who was lauded for setting up her popular “Crafty Irish Girl” blog where she uses social media to converse with the craft community around the world for which she also received the  “Hobbies on the Net” gong.

“It’s fantastic the people you can meet online. I  have people from all over the world following me,” she said.

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