Age UK announces Internet Champions for 2013, supported by Stephen Fry and June Whitfield

  • 78% of web users aged 55+ say their life has improved by being online
  • 42% now can't imagine life without the internet

New online research from Age UK shows that nearly four out of five (78%) older people who use the internet believe their lives have improved by being online, with nearly one in four (23%) saying they feel closer to friends and family as a result and 42% declaring that they now cannot imagine life without the internet.

Carried out by YouGov on behalf of Age UK, the online poll also revealed just how the lives of web users aged 55+ have been transformed: 44% have made savings online, nearly one in three (32%) pursue hobbies and one in five (19%) feel like they are more independent as a result of being online.

The findings come as Age UK announce James Perry, 92 and Janet Tchamani, 55, as the charity's joint Internet Champions of the Year for 2013. The Champions are amongst a growing number of older people who regularly use the internet and will be charged with helping to encourage some of the 5.2 million older people who have never been online to give the web a try.

The Champions were selected by a panel of experts in the industry, including writer, actor and technophile Stephen Fry. Fry, said: "Like millions of others, I simply can't imagine a life without the convenience and wonder of the internet. Yet over five million older people have never been online. I was delighted to help choose Age UK's Internet Champions for 2013 and wish them all the best in inspiring more people to the ways of the Web."

The Champions, whose moving stories inspired the judges, were crowned last night at a glitzy ceremony at The Royal Society in London. The awards were presented by Age UK ambassador June Whitfield, who supports the charity's work to encourage more older people to get online.

David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion at Age UK, said: "The internet can make a huge difference to people's lives. Whether it's making savings, keeping in touch with family or looking up new hobbies, for a growing number of older people, the internet is no longer a luxury but an essential tool for daily living.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

"Congratulations to James and Janet for becoming Age UK's Internet Champions for 2013. While there are still 5.2m older people who have never been online, James and Janet's stories demonstrate that people of all ages can benefit from using the 'net and now is the perfect time to give it a try. Anyone who's inspired by their stories should contact Age UK to find out about our nationwide classes which help thousands of older people to get online every year."

Janet Tchamani, 55, from King's Heath, West Midlands, said: "Five years ago I was diagnosed as having bipolar and it is fair to say that without the internet I wouldn't be here today. I joined a forum to share my experiences and learn from others and it has been life changing. The internet offers so much to everyone – whether it's coping with an illness, learning new skills or saving money, everyone can benefit from the internet and I hope to convince more people to give it a go."

James Perry, 92, from Sheerness, Kent, said: "I started using the internet at the age of 89 and it has changed my life. Being online has opened up avenues of communication that I thought were closed forever, such as being able to speak with friends in Australia. I'm convinced if I can learn then anyone can and I can't wait to start spreading the word."

June Whitfield, Age UK Celebrity Ambassador, said, "Technology is marvellous and James and Janet are a wonderful example of how the internet can benefit people in all manner of ways. I'd encourage anyone who's curious about the internet to contact Age UK to find out how to get online."

Image – Stephen_Fry_1.png: Unknown derivative work: Mercurial (Stephen_Fry_1.png) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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