By Brenda O’Mulloy.
I have had a fantastic year as Age UK’s Internet Champion of 2012. First there was the honour of winning, followed by the excitement of being broadcast live on BBC radio, speaking at high profile conferences and events and being interviewed by a variety of newspapers and magazines all with the aim of extolling the virtues of using the internet in later life.
My son bought me a computer when I was 75. He connected me to the internet and changed my life! I had been feeling very cut off after moving away from my friends and family – my family live 200 miles away – and the passing of my husband.
The computer was a real lifeline. It enabled me to stay connected and later gave me more. First I learned how to send emails and gradually moved on to other things like Facebook, Skype and instant messaging. It wasn’t long before the internet became something I could use for everyday life because I learned how to do a lot more, like shop online, book flights and theatre weekends and play games. What I love is that I no longer have to fuss with the VHS player to record a favourite programme, because I can catch up using iPlayer or Demand5 [the online ‘watch again’ service from Channel 5].
When I am tired or when the weather is bleak, I don’t struggle against the elements in order to pick up the newspaper from my local newsagent. Instead I can stay at home in the warm and read the Daily Mail online, do a crossword or two, search recipes and shop for the ingredients using my computer. I can say with absolute certainty, eight years on, that the internet has had such a positive impact on my life.
As Age UK’s Internet Champion it’s been a real privilege to promote the benefits of the internet for everyone because it is so accessible, and to spread the message that it’s never too late to take that first step. Having the opportunity to share my story to encourage others has been empowering and a true pleasure.
Age UK is about to appoint a new Internet Champion for 2013. While I’ll be sad to relinquish my official title I’ve had so many new experiences this year and at 83 that must be rare. I will always be an Internet Champion at heart and will look forward to celebrating with my successor when they are announced in March.
NOTE: More information about Age UK’s Internet Champions can be found at the Age UK website: