James Perry, AgeUK Digital Champion and proof that it's never too late to learn something new
Posted on: Fri 23-Jan-15 16:31:09
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James, 94, from Sheerness in Kent, is a former AgeUK Digital Champion and is helping to inspire and support other older people to get online.
I would like to tell you about my experience of becoming an internet user and of the difference it has made to my every day way of life. I was what you might call a "late starter", having managed without the internet to the age of 89, and ignoring pleas from all sorts of organisations and people to pay my bills and accounts "online". This didn't mean much to me anyway, and it wasn't until somebody asked me for my "email address" so that they could keep in touch that I realised I was missing out on something. It was of course the "internet", and to get on it you have to have a computer - or so I thought - which, at that time I did not have.
When I spoke to friends I was met with wry smiles and comments such as: "not at your age", which made me all the more determined. And the thing is, you don't even have to own a computer to start. There are lots of groups and organisations willing to help people get started -including AgeUK and P.O.A. Learning. The local Post Office can also help by providing details of other local groups.
I'm happy to say I have now mastered the internet and a bit more. I can't tell you the difference it has made to my life; no more feeling lonely and cut off from friends and relations. I can send an email any time of the day or night knowing that it has arrived within seconds, and without going out of the house.
I can't tell you the difference it has made to my life; no more feeling lonely and cut off from friends and relations.
I now pay all my "service bills” including rates, gas, electricity and water online (in some cases at a discount). Getting out to do the shopping was always a problem for me, but many retailers offer a service where you can order and pay on the internet and they will deliver, which I now use extensively.
I don't have to go to the Post Office to draw money to pay bills, my pension goes straight into the bank and I can pay most other bills by "Bank Transfer" and at the same time check the state of my account. I am able to book rail and flight tickets, look through as many holiday brochures as I like, look for second hand bargains as people sometimes have and sell things they no longer want or use themselves, anything from cars to furniture.
I have taken it a step further: from sending emails to seeing and hearing friends and relations via Skype. I am now able to keep in touch with friends in Australia and Scotland and other places around the world - just another facility at your fingertips! There is so much more available, books, pictures, music, card games, chess and many other past times.
I have progressed to the point where I was nominated for the AgeUK Internet Champion of 2013 and became joint champion. Part of my prize was an iPad, which I now make full use of. I'm also an ambassador for the charity, helping to encourage other older people to get online.
My biggest regret is that I didn't start much earlier! I'm now supporting AgeUK in their search for their next ‘Digital Champion’ and hope lots of people are encouraged to enter the awards and share their digital journey with others.
People aged 55+ can nominate themselves or be nominated. More information about entering can be found at the AgeUK website. The competition closes 30th January 2015. The awards will be presented on Friday 20 March at a ceremony in London.