This blog was contributed by Brenda O’Mulloy, 83, from Slough, who was crowned joint Internet Champion of the Year in 2012.
As Age UK’s Internet Champion of 2012, it’s has been a fantastic year. There was the prestige of winning of course, followed by the whirlwind 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 an aim of extolling the virtues of using the internet in later life.
At the age of 75 my son bought me a computer, hooked me up with Internet access and effectively changed my life. After moving away from my friends and family and the passing of my husband, I found I had no friends locally, my family lived 200 miles away and I felt cut off. The computer was a real lifeline. It enabled me to stay connected, initially I started off by sending emails but gradually this evolved to include Facebook, Skype and MSN Messenger.
Before long the Internet became a tool for everyday life – from shopping online, booking flights and theatre weekends. No longer did I have to fuss with the VHS player to record a favourite programme. Now I simply catch up using iPlayer or Demand5. 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 curl up in the warmth of my home and read the Daily Mail online, do a crossword or two, search for a recipe and shop for the ingredients using my computer.
Nearly 8 years on, I can say with certainty that the Internet has had such a positive impact in my life. As Age UK’s Internet Champion it’s been a real privilege to spread the message to other people just like me 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 has launched its search for a new Internet Champion for 2013. Whilst 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 welcoming and celebrating my successor when they’re announced later this year.
To find out more about the competition and how you can apply, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/champion