Saturday 25 May 2019

'Silver Surfer' Mary an inspiration to all

Alison Comyn

A 76-year-old Ardee woman, who made a difference to her retirement community after becoming a Silver Surfer, is urging others to jump on the superhighway with her!

Mary Dunne scooped The Age Action Silver Surfer Awards, 'IT Enthusiast Award' last year recognising the fact that she encouraged members of her retirement group to get online, who now have 80% of members online.

Mary first opened a computer in her late 60s and she now books adventures online for fellow pensioners throughout Ireland and across Europe and uses Pinterest to get inspiration for decorating her local church.

"I even set up a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with my six children and 16 grandchildren," she says, "and I've even been known to give out the odd tip for the Galway Races using the BetFinder app!"

And now Mary says the 'Surf is Up', and it's time to take the plunge by nominating an older person in your world … maybe a friend, family member, or someone you know in the community who has embraced technology.

The Age Action Silver Surfer Awards, in association with DCU Age Friendly University, honour older people who challenge ageist stereotypes and demonstrate that the internet, social media and new technologies are for all people.

This year Age Action is looking to present five awards to five people across Ireland to include:

New To Technology Award - Someone who has felt the fear and embraced technology

Hobbies On The Net Award - Someone who has used the internet to pursue their hobby

IT Tutor Of The Year Award - A sharer who helped older people to get tech savvy

Golden IT Award - Someone over the age of 85 who uses technology to enhance and make the most of life

Community Champion Award - Someone who has used technology to support community

"With technology still remaining a challenge for many older people, it can leave them feeling isolated and not in control of a world that has moved on when in fact it should be the exact opposite," says Jennifer Glansford, National Development Manager of the Getting Started programme with Age Action.

"I've seen the benefits first hand with technology becoming a total lifeline for older people, keeping them connected to a whole world at their fingertips.By investing a little time, a volunteer tutor, family member or friend can teach some simple ways that technology can be used to enhance their quality of life brings huge benefits all round."

Half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 have never used the internet while internet use among those aged over 75 is negligible. For those older people who do get online it has the potential to change their lives as the Silver Surfer Awards has highlighted. People are discovering new hobbies, accessing services more quickly and keeping in touch with family. Use of the internet has proven potential to deliver positive social and health related outcomes for older people, not least decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation.

"I just love to see older people getting online. Digital literacy can open up a new world and assist so much in day to day modern living," adds Jennifer. "The best part is to see people connect with family and perhaps long-lost friends online".

Pop online and nominate an older person you know, or simply nominate yourself on before Thursday, 25 April 2019. These special awards taking place on Tuesday 28th of May at The Helix Theatre, DCU.

Drogheda Independent