You are here

65-year-old craftsperson and activist is Silver Surfer 2018

Published 17/04/2018

SHARE THIS

99-year-old retired RAF Pilot Gordon Lawson from Carrigtwohill in Cork wins the Golden IT Award

The Community Champion Award goes to 98-year-old David Rowe from Sandyford in Dublin

Margaret Byrne is our 2018 Silver Surfer
Margaret Byrne is our overall 2018 Silver Surfer winner

65-year-old Margaret Byrne from Tallaght, in Dublin, is the overall winner of the 2018 open eir Silver Surfer Awards. She was presented with her award at a ceremony this morning by well-known fashion designer, TV and radio personality Brendan Courtney.

The ceremony was officially opened by Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly T.D.

In addition to winning the overall award Margaret also picked up “The Hobbies on the Net” award. Margaret (also known as “The Crafty Irish Girl” from her hugely popular blog) is a crochet, knitting and jewellery making enthusiast who uses social media to grow the craft community, and help keep hand craft skills alive.

She has a Facebook page which she uses for sharing ideas and knitting patterns and she also provides online tutorials. Margaret is also a keen Pinterest user – with almost 1,000 people following her. She loves Twitter too, but Instagram is her favourite social media channel.

On top of embracing technology to promote her chosen craft, she actively campaigns for survivors of mesh implant complications through the online support group “Mesh Survivors Ireland”, of which she is a co-founder. The group has grown to 250 survivors and has provided help to those suffering through meetups and support groups.

Margaret uses Facebook, Twitter and email to reach out to younger generations who represent their older parents online, and who are suffers of mesh implant complications. Because of her online campaigning, Minister Simon Harris has agreed to carry out an investigation on the matter.

Truly inspirational people

“We are proud to celebrate today some truly inspirational people," said John Church, CEO of Age Action. "These Silver Surfers are challenging ageist stereotypes that the internet, social media and new technologies are only for young people.

"They’re not just doing so to improve their own lives but, in many cases, to assist their neighbours, support their communities and reach out to people who need help.

We hope they will inspire thousands more like them to dust off the laptop or tablet sitting at home and get online. There is an entire world of information and entertainment waiting for them. 

"And who knows, maybe some of those inspired by this year’s Silver Surfers will be joining us at next year’s awards.”

“Today’s winners are a fantastic example of what can be achieved by embracing technology," said Carolan Lennon, CEO of eir. "We are delighted to support an initiative that celebrates older people and those who support them.

"The awards are a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on some of the remarkable ways that older people are taking advantage of the possibilities that connectivity offers. 

"The variety of online activities celebrated today includes the adoption of technology into everyday life, building online communities and even piloting a flight simulator!

"Our Silver Surfers are ambassadors for a digital landscape and reinforce our belief that everyone should have access to a best in class broadband and mobile network.”

David Rowe from Dublin and Gordon Lawson from Cork won in our Community Champion and Golden IT categories

Sense of independence

Minister Daly highlighted the benefits of older people engaging with technology, saying: “Developing technological skills is a great benefit as it can help nourish a sense of independence and in turn give older people increased confidence that they can take forward into all the other aspects of their lives.”

Minister Daly also congratulated all the open eir Silver Surfer award winners and nominees, noting that Age Action’s Getting Started Computer Training Programme, along with eir’s commitment to provide the best mobile and broadband network to every household and business across Ireland, is instrumental in helping older people experience the benefits that technology can bring to their everyday lives. 

Full list of winners

1.     The Getting Started IT Award went to Tom Langan from Renmore, Galway. Despite his visual impairment, Tom has embraced technology across various devices and platforms.

He now listens to audiobooks with Audible, converts printed text to speech or braille with KNFB reader, connects with sighted volunteers for visual assistance on Be My Eyes and uses blindness-aware GPS navigation platforms to go about his day.

Tom also encourages those with visual impairments to become digitally apt and assists them with their devices and apps.

2.     Golden IT Award winner and retired RAF Pilot Gordon Lawson from Carrigtwohill in Co. Cork became interested in technology in his 80s as he was determined to not fall behind on the times.

Now aged 99, Gordon uses the internet to stay in touch with friends, download music, bank online, deliver meals on wheels and write up the minutes of meetings in his role as secretary at the JW congregation in Carrigtwohill.

Most importantly, he enjoys reliving his flying days by piloting flight simulators! Gordon’s enthusiasm for technology goes hand in hand with his enthusiasm for using it to help others.

3.     The Community Champion Award was presented to David Rowe from Sandyford in Dublin. David uses technology to observe planning applications for An Taisce, and frequently makes comprehensive, online, submissions on the Dun Laoghaire County Development Plan. At 98, David doesn’t shy away from using technology to make his voice heard and often contacts policy makers with detailed maps and suggestions.

He contributes to the community magazine Three Rock Panorma, using his computer to author articles and design covers, and has edited eight books since his retirement. David also uses IT in a number of voluntary organisations.

4.     At 76, Mary Dunne is a role model for her friends at the Ardee Active Retirement Group, which now boasts of 80% internet usage amongst members. Mary is the driving force behind this uptake since learning how to use a computer in her late 60s.

She books adventures online for her fellow pensioners throughout Ireland and across Europe and uses Pinterest to get inspiration for decorating her local church. She has set up a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with her six children and 16 grandchildren and has been known to give out tips for the Galway Races using the BetFinder app.

Mary is an active promoter of internet safety and seeks to alleviate fears held by some older people around using the internet. For these reasons Mary has won the IT Enthusiast Award.

5.     Marie Hogan from Birdhill in Tipperary was the winner of the IT Tutor of the Year Award, which recognises the efforts of the hundreds of people across Ireland who volunteer with Age Action’s computer training programme, Getting Started.

Since 2009 Marie has facilitated numerous training courses and one-to-one sessions and has fundraised to provide computers and computer equipment for the Milford Day Care Centre for the Older Adult. Marie has been working with one resident for the past three years who has faced many health obstacles.

Thanks to Marie’s weekly tutoring this resident has a new found sense of independence through technology, as she communicates with her family and catches up on her favourite shows on the RTE player. 

6.     Dominican College Griffith Avenue, Dublin was presented with the Schools Tutor of the Year Award. This is the first time in the history of the awards that a separate schools category has been included.

The Dominican College has been tutoring older people since 2014 and in that time the school’s pupils and staff have gone above and beyond to help their older learners embrace the benefits of technology.

7.     VW Ware from Cork was awarded the Corporate IT Tutor of the Year Award. Since its first class in 2014, VM Ware has given over 1,500 hours of volunteering to the Age Action Getting Started programme and their team of volunteers have made a huge contribution to changing the lives of older people in their local community.

SHARE THIS

Age Action & Active Retirement Ireland call people to vote for reform, not promises!

Put Older People at the Heart of the Next Government

 

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland today launched their General Election 2020 manifesto.

The two leading organisations representing older people in Ireland are critical of pre-election promises that do not represent real change for older people and a fairer society for us all as we age.

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland said, ‘The priority issues for the next government; health, housing, climate change and social welfare reform affect us all, including older people. We want people to vote for the political parties who are committed to ensuring the voice of older people is heard. Our members nationwide are demanding a voice at the table. A senior Minister for Older People is their number one demand.’

She continued, ‘our members want a Government that is committed to delivering an older person’s strategy across all Government departments. They want a Government that can demonstrate it is listening to their voice.’

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action said, ‘the current debate on pension reform and the sudden about face of TDs in Government and political parties highlights the lack of focus and planning for our ageing population. Real pension reform would benchmark and index the pension in line with international good practice in tandem with leading the way to abolish discriminatory work practices including mandatory retirement clauses. A Government that is concerned for older people would ensure free travel is protected and rural transport is developed so that older people don’t become isolated.”

A key issue for members of both organisations is pension reform. Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland want the next Government not to introduce the planned increase in the pension age to 67 in 2021 because of the disjointed and poor approach to planning which is disproportionately impacting on older people.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said “Despite wide-ranging pension policy changes in recent years across the State pension age, method of calculation, rate and supplementary pensions, Government has provided no information as to how and when these will take effect.  As a result, people planning for - and coming imminently close to - retirement are left unaware of what pension they will qualify for and whether they will have sufficient time to plan for income security once they retire.”

Age Action and Active retirement Ireland have also called for the next Government to prioritise the commitment to introduce a new statutory homecare scheme in 2021, address the current waiting list for home supports and commission research on the cost of ageing to inform Ireland’s policy development that meets the needs of an ageing population.

Age Action and Active Retirement Ireland Priority Asks for General Election 2020

  1. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People

       Addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of ageing requires a whole-of-Government approach. Appoint a senior Minister for Older People, within the Department of An Taoiseach, with priority actions of developing a strategy that will respond to the needs of our ageing demographic.

  1. Depoliticise the State pension

       Indexing of current and future pension rates facilitates proper planning, it provides peace of mind for older workers and crucially it depoliticises the budget process. The next Government should benchmark the State Pension to 34% of average weekly earnings and apply a triple lock which guarantees that the basic rate rises each year by a minimum of 2.5%, the rate of inflation or average earnings growth (whichever is the largest).

  1. Suspend the planned increase in the state pension age to 67 in 2021

       In the context of proposed increases to the State pension ages in the near future and the on-going lack of clarity around the new rules, it is simply not fair to raise the State pension age without adequate time for us all to prepare. The increase in the pension age to 68 will mean a cut of nearly 10% in pension income over a person’s lifetime in retirement.

  1. Appoint a Commissioner for Ageing with statutory powers to support their mandate

       Many older people feel left behind in the eyes of policymakers. An independent champion and advisor to government in the form of a Commissioner for Ageing is vital to promote cohesive, efficient, best practice government policy and services for our ageing population.

5.     Take ambitious climate action consistent with climate justice to protect people and the planet

      Climate action policies must be designed in such a way that the people and communities most vulnerable to negative impacts are identified and given voice so that measures are put in place to protect them and to enable them to reap the benefits of climate action.

ENDS