Gordon Lawson, 99, goes from RAF pilot to top silver surfer

A Tallaght-based crafts blogger and a 99-year-old former Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot who now takes to the virtual skies in flight simulators were among those honoured at this year’s Silver Surfer Awards.

Margaret Byrne, 65, was the overall winner at the awards, but also received the The Hobbies on the Net award for her popular blog, The Crafty Irish Girl.

A crochet, knitting, and jewellery-making enthusiast, Ms Byrne uses social media to discuss craft issues, and has a Facebook page for sharing ideas, knitting patterns, and tutorials.

While she also has almost 1,000 people following her on Pinterest, Ms Byrne also uses social media to campaign for survivors of mesh implant complications through the online group, Mesh Survivors Ireland.

The Golden IT Award winner was retired RAF pilot Gordon Lawson, 99, from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, who uses the internet to stay in touch with friends, download music, bank online, deliver meals on wheels, and write up the minutes of meetings in his role as secretary at his religious congregation in Carrigtwohill. 

He also uses technology to relive his flying days by piloting flight simulators.

The accolades were handed out at a ceremony at sponsor Eir’s head office in Dublin yesterday, with the proceedings overseen by TV personality Brendan Courtney, minister of state Jim Daly, and John Church, CEO of Age Action.

“These silver surfers are challenging ageist stereotypes that the internet, social media and new technologies are only for young people,” Mr Church said.

“They are not just doing so to improve their own lives but, in many cases, to assist their neighbours, support their communities and reach out to people who need help. We hope they will inspire thousands more like them to dust off the laptop or tablet sitting at home and get online. There is an entire world of information and entertainment waiting for them.”

Mr Daly said Age Action’s Getting Started Computer Training Programme was beneficial to older computer users.

“Developing technological skills is a great benefit as it can help nourish a sense of independence and in turn give older people increased confidence that they can take forward into all the other aspects of their lives,” said Mr Daly.

Other awards included the Getting Started IT Award, which went to Tom Langan from Renmore, Galway; the Community Champion Award presented to David Rowe from Sandyford in Dublin; the IT Enthusiast Award, which was won by Mary Dunne from Ardee, Co Louth, and the IT Tutor of the Year award, which was given to Marie Hogan from Birdhill in Tipperary.

Awards were also presented to Dominican College Griffith Avenue, Dublin, and VMWare, Cork, which were presented with the Schools Tutor of the Year and the Corporate IT Tutor of the Year Awards respectively.


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