Age UK has today launched a search for its Internet Champion of the Year for 2013, with the aim of inspiring the 824,000 people in the South East who have never been online.

The charity is looking for someone aged 55+ whose life has been changed for the better by learning to use the internet. The aim of the search is to demonstrate that with benefits such as keeping in touch with loved ones, making savings and pursuing hobbies, the Web isn’t just for computer geeks or young people but has benefits for everyone.

However, 31% of older people say they do not use the internet because they feel they have ‘no need for it’[ii], whilst 24% say they are ‘too old to use the internet’[iii]. The Internet Champion will inspire older people to get online by showing them how it enhanced their life and demonstrating that the benefits of the web are open to everyone, whatever their age.

Brenda O’Mulloy, 83, from Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, who is Age UK’s joint Internet Champion for 2012, is urging people to put themselves forward to be the 2013 Champion, saying: “I took up the internet on my 75th Birthday. My husband had passed away a few months after we moved to a new area, so my son bought me a computer to ensure that I wasn’t left alone and it has changed my life.

“The first thing I do in the morning is turn on my computer and check my emails. It’s fantastic to have the world at your fingertips and to have the ability to chat with friends and family so easily. It’s been great sharing my passion for all that the internet offers during my time as Internet Champion and encouraging others to get online, so I’d urge any older people who use the internet to enter.”

Frederick Briggs, 75, from Reading, Age UK’s joint Internet Champion for 2010 is urging people to put themselves forward to be the 2013 Champion. He said: “I love being online because it allows me to talk with my children and grandchildren as though they are in the same room. It’s wonderful being able to keep in touch with them so easily, especially my grandchildren who are always so busy.

“Using the internet may seem daunting but it has made a real difference to my life. It was fantastic being Age UK’s Internet Champion and I’d urge any older people who use the internet to enter.”

David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion at Age UK, said: “We know first-hand that the internet can have a massively positive effect on the lives of older people. Despite five million people aged 65+ across the country having used the internet, we know that there as many still to be convinced about the benefits of the Web.

Therefore we’re looking for someone aged 55+ to be our Internet Champion who can demonstrate to their peers all that the internet can offer.”
To enter the Internet Champion of the Year search or to nominate someone else visit www.ageuk.org.uk/internet-champions or call 0800 169 2081 to request an application. The competition closes on 10 January 2013.

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