Pensioners embrace internet at Ludham computer club

Pensioners as old as 90 are queuing up to embrace the potential of the internet – thanks to a pioneering computer club.

While some have found it the key to catching up with friends and relatives all over the world, one is even using his new skills to write a journal of his wartime experiences as a pilot who took part in the bombing raid that sunk the German battleship Tirpitz.

Retired teacher Ros Cordiner, 64, has led the club in St Catherine’s church rooms, Ludham, near Great Yarmouth, since village churches set it up three years ago with the help of a National Lottery grant.

She said: “We thought there would be a need out there to help older people communicate with their families and take advantage of online discounts and internet shopping, but I am still amazed by the response.

“So far, more than 300 people have come to our sessions on Mondays and Thursdays. When we started up again after the summer I thought interest might have waned but my phone has never stopped ringing and we have a waiting list again.”

Fellow instructor Peter Coleman, a retired optometrist, said: “I get phone calls every day saying, ‘can you sort my computer out’. Everyone in this village is so keen.”

He said the club’s success reflected the fact that so many things were made easier these days by going online. Retired Devon and Cornwall police officer Mike Brown, 67, who lives in Latchmoor Park, Ludham, with his wife, Diane, confessed: “Eighteen months ago I had not got a clue about computers; they were just coming in when I retired from the force.

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“We have found being able to use a computer absolutely fabulous because we have a daughter, Caroline, in New Zealand and we can send photographs to each other in seconds. And we can use Skype to keep in personal touch with her and our 14-year-old granddaughter, Devon. I have also used the internet to track down former colleagues and old friends I have not seen for 50 years.”

Mr Brown said while they were still fit and active, it was reassuring to know they would be able to order groceries on the internet if it became necessary in the future.

Arthur Towlson, 90, of Grove Walk, Norwich, who travels to Ludham with his partner, Dian Dayns, had a special reason to learn computer skills – he wanted to compile his wartime memoires.

The retired accountant now has all his wartime photographs on his computer which they bought online during one of the sessions.

Mr Towlson said: “I have learned a tremendous amount in two years and would never have been able to do it without the help of the instructors who are so knowledgeable. When I get into a muddle there is always an expert to rectify the problem.”

Beryl Cable, 77, of Grange Close, Hoveton, has bought her own laptop since joining the free classes.

She said: “I do not need it to communicate with my family who are local, but I really just wanted to get up to date.”

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