SHE’S Ireland’s first official silver surfer, a netizen of considerable skills, whose talented use of emerging technologies belies her advanced years.
She’s 95-year-old Marguerite Faulkner, grandmother and great grandmother, surfer, sender of emails, Skyper extraordinaire and winner of the Silver Surfer of the Year Award, presented to her yesterday at the IMAGINE IT! conference, a celebration of older people and information technology organised by Age Action as part of Positive Ageing Week.
No stranger to challenges, the Tyrone woman’s early working life was spent in Stormont Castle, working in the Cabinet offices during the tenure of John Andrews, Northern Ireland’s second prime minister, until forced to retire under the civil service marriage ban.
She then turned her talents to the long-established family business she married into, Faulkners, which dealt in china, glass and electrical goods.
“I did a bit of everything, managing, the books. I like meeting people, I like keeping myself as active as possible,” the Tyrone woman said.
Her life took an interesting turn when her family presented her with a computer eight years ago as a Christmas present.
“It’s not a laptop, it’s a big computer with all the gadgets that go with it. I took a few classes to find out more about it and then I did a good bit of study on my own. You can learn quite a lot,” Marguerite said.
Marguerite now uses her computer to Skype her granddaughter in Singapore and three other grandchildren in Britain, as well as friends in New Zealand.
In her almost century of living, she reckons the computer is the best technological advancement of her time.
“It really opens up the whole world to you. When I was born in 1914, there wasn’t even radio, I have come through a life of seeing all sorts of things, but the computer is probably the best. I love anything technological, I like the game Nintendo,” the indefatigable 95-year-old said.
Marguerite, who last year had her driving licence renewed for another three years, spent much of yesterday texting family and friends to share her delight at becoming the country’s first silver surfer. It was also her wedding anniversary, although sadly, her husband Rankin, passed away 15 years ago. She celebrated in the Shelbourne before heading back to Cookstown last night.
Her advice to other silver surfers? “For goodness sake get a computer and get started, there’s nothing to it once you do. It takes a bit of time, but you will never be bored.”
Marguerite beat off competition from two other finalists – Mabel Gargan, 87, a self-taught computer user, and Tom Crotty, a 75-year-old who records his own songs using Garageband, a Mac editing software.
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