Keith Paterson has built Silverhairs and dedicates his time to providing help and support to older people who have problems with their computer and to show that age is no barrier for those who want to get online. Keith was awarded the Age UK Internet Champion Award in 2012 and also an MBE in the Queen's 2015 New Year Honours list "for services to promoting information technology to elderly people in the UK".
When posed with our questions, Keith admitted difficulty in answering them:
What have you learned from working with older people?
I found those questions difficult to answer. My dealings with older people have been mainly to do with helping to get them online. I have learned that if they perceive no benefit, then the task is well-nigh impossible!
So I have had a few 'failures'. In two cases (not that old) it was down to the fact that they had secretaries to do things like compose letters or respond to emails. Both made excuses not to pursue handling a keyboard themselves. In other cases I think it was easier to say they weren't interested because it would be embarrassing to admit they couldn't cope with it.
But I have had notable successes and I think it is very important, especially for disabled people and the potentially lonely.
And what would your advice be to your younger self?
Well, it is very mundane, but it would still be ‘If at first you don't succeed try and try again'. But that was the story of my life. Having failed to get into university I finally got a degree of the Open University at the age of 45. Having started as a junior clerk at 15 I eventually became Area Careers Officer of Cambridge.
But I could never afford to stop work long enough to take a full time course.
The most pleasing effect of this was that my three daughters all achieved honours degrees, despite a useless secondary education. They all did it by their own efforts and got there in the end.
Thank you to ‘Age UK Mobility’ & www.ageukmobility.co.uk