Age UK Internet Champions Announced

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Age UK and BT today crowned Margaret Goodwin, 64 from Henley-on-Thames, and David Howe, 70 from Devon, as the Age UK Internet Champions for 2011.

Minister Ed Vaizey joins Martha Lane Fox at prestigious ceremony to announce Champions for 2011

Age UK and BT today crowned Margaret Goodwin, 64 from Henley-on-Thames, and David Howe, 70 from Devon, as the Age UK Internet Champions for 2011. It was announced at the BT Tower in London that the Champions will work with the Charity over the coming year to help show the 6 million people over 65 who have never used the Internet[i] that they too can enjoy the many benefits it has to offer – such as keeping in touch with friends and family and making savings online.                                                    

Margaret and David were two of four finalists who attended the prestigious awards ceremony at one of the capital’s best-known buildings. The search for the 2011 Champion marks the second year of the initiative, supported by BT, which sees people aged over 55 nominate themselves to become a Champion for a year, helping Age UK to advocate the use of the Internet to peers. This year’s theme was ‘how the Internet changed my life’ and nominees were asked to share the life-changing benefits they have gained from being online.

Margaret impressed judges with her confidence online – from keeping in touch with family across the four corners of the world to her love of snapping up an eBay bargain. Margaret said: “I am absolutely over the moon to be named the Internet Champion for 2011! As a child of the 60s I love the human and social elements of the Internet; I have made contact with members of my family I had lost touch with and have attended many school reunions. I relish the opportunity that has been given to me and am honoured to work with David in this role.”

David suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and is an IT volunteer trainer at Age UK Devon, helping people in later life in the area get online. Due to mobility issues David attended the event ‘virtually’ via a web link from a special awards ceremony arranged for him in Devon. David said: “I am over the moon to be the new Internet Champion. When I applied I never thought I would make it to the final, never mind win the competition! I can’t wait to work with Age UK to help reach others who may be reticent about using a computer and the Internet.”

David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion at Age UK, said: “The search for the new Age UK Internet Champion resulted in more nominations than ever before. Both David and Margaret displayed the enthusiasm, motivation and desire to help others that we were looking for in a Champion and we look forward to working alongside them to help encourage other people in later life to get online. The Internet offers vast financial and social benefits such as keeping in touch with grandchildren, discovering new hobbies and interests, and saving money on products and services by shopping around – so the role of Internet Champion is vital to get that message to those missing out.”

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, attended the ceremony and presented the awards to the winners. He commented: “Congratulations to both David and Margaret on being crowned the Age UK Internet Champions for 2011. The role of Internet Champion is one I am sure they will both deliver using their vast enthusiasm and knowledge, helping Age UK to continue to close the digital divide that exists in the UK.”
Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion, said: “I have been incredibly fortunate in my role as UK Digital Champion to meet so many inspiring people whose lives have literally been transformed by the Internet. Peer to peer IT training and the work of ‘digital champions’ is vital if we are to introduce the benefits of the web to the many millions of people who remain offline in the UK, and the new Age UK Internet Champions will provide an important voice and help encourage other older people to take the leap and get online in 2011.”

Liz Williams, Head of Consumer Affairs and Inclusion at BT Retail, said “Helping customers overcome barriers to communication is at the heart of everything BT does as a company. Age UK’s Internet Champion search will help inspire many people to cross the digital divide and get online in order to benefit from the enhanced quality of life that being connected to the Internet offers. We at BT are delighted to add our support to this campaign.”

Age UK manages a number of UK-wide digital inclusion programmes, including the Digital Inclusion Network consisting of 190+ partner organisations and Connect with IT, a comprehensive digital inclusion campaign involving itea and biscuits week, myfriends online week, Age UK Internet Champion of the Year competition and IT Volunteering. More than 200,000 people in later life have been helped to date.

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Simon Macsis
Age UK
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