Florence (95) wins Age Action Silver Award

By William O'Connor

AT 95 years of age blogger, Florence McGillicuddy from Rathfarnham is the overall Age Action Silver Surfer Award winner in recognition for his site GrandadOnline.com - The Memoirs of Florence McGillicuddy.

Florence, was presented with his award for his contribution to community life through his use of technology, at a ceremony on Tuesday in Dublin City University, who co-sponsored the Awards as part of the DCU Age-Friendly University Initiative.

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Florence with pupils from Ballyroan Boys’ School

 Florence, who also won the Golden IT Award as one of the older nominees, has developed a unique relationship with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School over the past three years through the internet.

Florence brings history to life for the young students as he researches historic facts about their city and composes lessons in an email which the children’s teacher helps the students read.

The students have learned about what life was like in Dublin when Florence was growing up and events such as what happened to Nelson’s Pillar, an airplane crash in Terenure, and he even organises school tours to cigarette factories. In turn, the children write back to Florence in old-fashioned handwritten letter format in a wonderful display of generations coming together and learning from each other.

 With half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 having never used the internet and internet use among those aged over 75 negligible, the Silver Surfer Awards highlight digital literacy issues amongst older people.

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Florence McGillicuddy

For those older people who get online it has the potential to change their lives, as the Silver Surfer Awards demonstrate, with people participating in the digital economy, accessing public services, discovering new hobbies and maintaining an active role in their communities.

 Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said: “Each nominee is an inspiration. They are challenging the stereotype of ageing, showing that there is no barrier you cannot overcome to life-long learning as they have embraced new technologies, new ways to communicate and combat social exclusion.

“Access to the internet has the potential to transform lives, enabling us to keep in contact with family and old friends, or to make new ones, to explore new hobbies and interests, even empowering us to start businesses or to use our skills for the benefit of our communities.

“The Silver Surfers have not only transformed their own lives but, in doing so, they have shown that digital literacy is an important element of positive ageing.”

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