76-year-old gran who sold house online is Google Silver Surfer

27 Sep 2011

Dorothy Harrington winner of the Google Silver Surfer Award with Age Action with her husband Paddy

Seventy-six-year-old grandmother of four Dorothy Harrington from Dublin has been crowned the overall winner of the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action.

Nominated for the award by her husband Paddy who lovingly describes his wife as “mistress of the computer”, Sandyford-based Dorothy Harrington uses the internet in every aspect of her life from email and banking online, to making the family’s annual Christmas cards. L

“Last year we downsized from a large house and garden in Kilkenny to an apartment in Dublin. Dorothy listed our property on several property websites,” her husband explained.

“By doing this, not only did she sell the house, but we also saved a lot of money on Estate Agency fees. After much perseverance she found the perfect apartment for us on the internet.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Dublin today Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte TD said: “The internet is no longer the exclusive domain of the young or indeed the technically oriented.

“A happy convergence of peer pressure, reducing costs, more user friendly devices and smarter software design is encouraging us all to go on-line. Today’s winners are champions in the application of peer pressure. They have not let their age hold them back from being part of Ireland’s digital society and are setting a wonderful example for people of all ages,” the Minister said.

Sinéad Gibney, social action manager for Google Ireland said that this year saw a 50pc increase in nominations for the awards.

In total seven awards were handed out at the ceremony: They are as follows:

Winner of the Golden IT Award – Larry Wilmott

90 year old Larry Wilmott from Dalkey is a permanent resident at Our Lady’s Manor Nursing Home in Dalkey. According to Sarah Jenkinson, who works at Larry’s nursing home and nominated him for the awards, “Three years ago Larry bought himself a laptop and since then he has never looked back. He is active on Facebook, Twitter and Skype. In August he hosted his own 90th birthday party and he made everyone RSVP to it by email. He has even decked out his nursing home bedroom with a digital radio, a laptop and Sky+ HD.”

Winner of the Family Tutor Award (open to anyone under the age of 50) – Aine Fleming

12 year old Aine Fleming from Kildare town spends her evenings teaching her 80 year old granny how to use her laptop. According to Aine’s aunt Kathleen King, “Thanks to Aine, her Grandmother now spends about two hours each day on the computer and she feels that it has really changed her life and given her a new focus. She loves horse racing and all kinds of sports and she can now look up the racing cards in advance of the races, look at the races in real time and review them on RTE player. Aine has infinite patience while teaching and her granny attests that she never at any time felt stupid while Aine taught her.”

Winner of the Hobbies on the Net Award – Penny Pennefather

62 year old Penny Pennefather from Greystones, Co. Wicklow took on the sizable task of computerizing her local bridge club scoring system. Her bridge club of over 400 people, with an average age of 60+, has now been fully transferred to the digital system.

According to her daughter Jane Court, “Penny has been determined to integrate this technology into the club and as a result is hugely patient and enthusiastic when it comes to training the less technologically savvy club members on how to use the new system.”

Winner of the Most Dedicated IT Learner Award – Bernie Wansboro

Bernie Wansboro, aged 53 from Swords in Dublin felt she was missing out on a whole new world by not being able to use the Internet so she taught herself basics computer skills by reading a computer manual and bought herself a laptop. Bernie nominated herself for this award and said that the internet has changed her life and that she learns something new everyday.  She has just started shopping online, bought flight tickets and now she can’t live without the internet.

Winner of the Social Networker Award – Angela Gallagher

Angela Gallagher, aged 63 from Ardagh, Co. Limerick runs her own blog called “A Silver Voice from Ireland”. The blog examines various issues facing older people in Ireland, Irish history, genealogy and life in the past in Ireland. She also runs an accompanying Facebook page to promote the blog. Angela was nominated by her son Damian Shiels who says she is “determined to get to grips with the new world of social media.”

Winner of the IT Volunteer of the Year Award (open to all ages) – James Richardson

James Richardson, aged 63, from Beaumount in Dublin works in the Near Media Co-operative in Coolock. He has been an IT trainer for seven years and in that time he has helped over 1,500 older people with their computer skills. James was nominated by his co-workers for his patience and empathy with his students. According to one co-worker many of James’ students could never have turned on a computer before starting the course. But after ten sessions with James they are able to use the internet, email and do basic word processing.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years