The rise of the silver surfer

Silver Surfers Feature Shirley Shipley with Tutor Andree Myers.

Silver Surfers Feature Shirley Shipley with Tutor Andree Myers.

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“I COULDN’T live without the internet – I love it, it’s just wonderful. It’s life-changing.”

Not the words of an ultra-modern techno-savvy teenager – but 72-year-old retired grandmother-of-four Shirley Shipley, who can’t begin to imagine life without a computer and the world wide web.

Shirley, who lives on Cuttholme Road, Loundsley Green, Chesterfield, is one of a growing number of ‘silver surfers’, OAPs who have decided to log on and experience the benefits and delights of the ever-expanding information superhighway.

“I go online every day – in fact, sometimes I get so engrossed I find myself searching away on Google at 2am!” laughs Shirley.

“I do all sorts. I send emails, I do food and clothes shopping and I organise finances. I love listening to tunes on YouTube and watching soaps on iPlayer. Quite simply, I couldn’t live without the internet – I love it, it’s just wonderful. It’s life-changing.”

Just a matter of years ago, however, Shirley was terrified of computers – but her skills and confidence rocketed thanks to an IT course at adult education centre Hurst House, on Abercrombie Street, Chesterfield.

She explains: “One day my grandchildren said, ‘have you been on the internet, grandma?’ I said, ‘no, what’s that’? And at that point I thought ‘right, I’m going to change this.’

“So I signed up for an IT course at Hurst House in 2005. At first I was petrified of computers – I used to look at one then freeze, literally – but now I think they’re fantastic. I’d feel lost without them.”

Shirley, whose husband, Keith, died of cancer four years ago in May, says her computer and the internet keep her company.

“Sometimes I find myself speaking to it. I say ‘good morning’ to it and ‘good night, God bless’ to it,” she laughs. “It’s good company.”

Shirley’s tutor, Andreé Myers, said: “If you’re not using a computer and if you’re not online, you are missing out. It’s an invaluable resource – at the click of a button you can find out all sorts of information.”

Shirley, a former shop assistant, had one message: get a computer, log on to the internet – and enjoy it.

She says: “It’s natural to be fearful at first – after all, it’s something new. But you’ll find it to be an invaluable resource.”

l Are you a silver surfer? What is your favourite website? Let us know by emailing comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk.

michael.broomhead@derbyshiretimes.co.uk