openeir Silver Surfer Awards 2017

openeir Silver Surfer Awards 2017

Last week, the open eir Silver Surfer Awards 2017 took place in the eir Group HQ, St. Johns Road. Twenty five inspirational nominees, along with their friends and family attended the ceremony, hosted by Emmy winners Baz and Nancy Ashmawy of “50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy” fame.

The Silver Surfer Awards mark the beginning of a two year partnership between Age Action and open eir. Almost 1 in 5 Irish adults have never used the Internet – that’s more than 550,000 people! The majority of these are older people.

The purpose of this partnership is to change that statistic, and to assist Age Action in their vision for Ireland to become the best country in which to grow older. The open eir network is and its reach, 1.9 million homes and businesses by end of 2018 is key to the success of their vision. This partnership with Age Action will  not only  encourage older people to embrace e-commerce, but it will also  assist them in developing their own successful businesses online. With education increasingly converting to digital, the provision of free, one-to-one computer training for the over-50s is continuing to inspire  people to realise that they have the potential to harness the benefits of technology, and transform their lives by acquiring new skills. . In addition, open eir and Age Action are committed to empowering individuals who experience isolation, through growing their online social networks and most importantly of all, having fun!

This is the eighth year of the awards celebrating older people who embrace technology. The ceremony was officially opened by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee T.D., who praised the initiative “a wonderful way of highlighting that we are never too old to learn, to try something new, and to challenge ourselves”.

This year, the packed-out auditorium hosted a total of 170 people, consisting of the 25 nominees, their friends, and family members. The excitement was hard to deny as “The Bugle Babes” led proceedings with hits from the golden eras of swing and jive. The performance was followed by words from eir CEO Richard Moat and open eir MD Carolan Lennon. The awards then kicked off with Baz Introducing each category in true Oscars fashion.

The Five categories for the 2017 open sir Silver Surfer Awards were:-

New to IT Aware – A person over the age of 50 who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become an IT user.

Hobbies on the Net Award- An older person who uses the internet to pursue their passion or hobby, or who uses IT for communications and social networking.

Golden IT Award – An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their life.

Silver Surfer Award – An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure

IT Tutor of the Year Award – An individual or group who provides voluntary support to older learners

Doreen Thew, a 92-year-old nursing home resident from Maynooth, Co Kildare, was crowned the overall winner of the 2017 open eir Silver Surfer Awards.

Originally from London, Doreen was a wireless operator during World War II before working as an accounts clerk. Following the passing of her husband she moved to Ireland in 2013 to be closer to her son Peter, her five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Doreen keeps in touch with her family using Skype and Snapchat, shops online and uses Google to identify birds that visit the garden outside her room. Being such an avid internet user, TLC Nursing Home in Maynooth had to install a wifi booster immediately on her arrival.

Eamon Timmins, CEO of Age Action, said: “Doreen is an amazing woman, inspiring all of us to know that age is no barrier to taking advantage of the thrilling opportunities presented by the internet and new technology. The majority of older people in Ireland have never been online. We hope Doreen and all of our Silver Surfers encourage anyone with a computer sitting unused in the kitchen, or a tablet still in its wrapping paper, to get online and open up new worlds of information and entertainment”.

Other winners this year included Brendan Crean from Kilbarrack in Dublin who scooped the New to IT Award. Brendan, who has cerebral palsy, is an avid user of social media; blogs on a weekly basis uses his Facebook and Twitter profiles to lobby his local councillors and TDs on behalf of people with disabilities.

Octogenarian Betty Smith from Bandon in Cork won the Hobbies on the Net award for using the internet to source ingredients, negotiate with suppliers and ultimately grow a Poitín infused marmalade business. Her award-winning marmalade is now in 35 stores across the south of Ireland.

IT Tutor of the Year went to Frank Brady from Malahide, who has delivered 200 training courses to older people in Dublin.

While the Golden IT Award was won by retired garda John Hayes from Wexford, who uses Skype to talk to his siblings in the US and Facebook to communicate with other family. He also plays bridge online.

Speaking about the sponsorship Carolan Lennon, Managing Director, open eir said “We are thrilled to support this great initiative which recognises, celebrates and rewards all of the great things Silver Surfers across Ireland are doing. We’ve made no secret of the fact that with our own fibre rollout programme we are on a mission to get communities across Ireland connected. When you see the amazing activities that Doreen and the rest of today’s winners are doing online – whether it’s running a business, discovering a new hobby or staying in touch with family and friends it really demonstrates the power of being online and the very positive difference it can make to everyday life”.

Watch behind the scenes at the open eir Silver Surfers event: