Post Office internet sessions for Barnstaple pensioners

Joseph Bulmer

Over 65s get to grips with the net

NORTH Devon pensioners have been logging on to the World Wide Web at their local post office.

The Get Online Week campaign, supported by the Post Office, UK Online Centres and the BBC, was designed to help the over 60s get to grips with computers and the internet.

Eighty-eight-year-old Harry Moule was one of a number of self-confessed “internet virgins” taking advantage of the supported computer access sessions at Barnstaple Post Office on Friday.

Mr Moule, a former county cricketer who played for Worcestershire in the 1950s, even used the session to discover a Wikipedia page devoted to his cricketing past.

He said: “At first it was very difficult but I got used to it, and now I can follow the cricket online and email my family in New Zealand.

“It’s great – I even watched a video of my grand-daughter’s wedding on YouTube.”

Mr Moule found out about the week after spotting a newspaper article and attending his local Pathfinder Learning Centre.

Steve Skirth, a tutor at Pathfinder Learning Centre, said: “The first thing we do with our students is take away the fear. We catch their interest and show them how simple it is to use things like e-mail. At first, they’re usually frightened they’ll break the computer but we try and make it as fun as possible.”

Jill Hayward, 80, from Barnstaple, joined the IT course at Pathfinder two years ago. She said: “Before that, I didn’t even own a computer. I’m just thrilled that I did it.

“Everyone involved in the teaching were great and they made the course fun.

“I’ve now got my own computer, and I use it to shop online and email my five grand-children. I even used Google Earth to look up my old house in Sussex. That was magical.

“I went into the course as an internet virgin and came out with new found confidence.”

Hugh Stacey, head of Post Office telecoms, said: “Our research shows that four in five digitally excluded people over 60 have little interest in or awareness of the internet.

“Consequently, we are keen to help these people share the benefits already enjoyed by almost five million other over 60-year-olds who say saving money and keeping in touch with their families is easier with the internet.

“The Post Office is supporting Get Online Week as we want to encourage people to get connected – pop into your local Post Office and pick up a leaflet to find out more about getting online.”