Members of the silver surfers club in Sittingbourne
Harry, of The Cloisters, Sittingbourne, decided to start learning a bit about computers and, four years on, he surfs the net with the best of them.
He said: “Instead of being the oldest duffer on the 10-week course at the Skills-Plus Centre, I took to IT like a duck to water and struck up lasting friendships with classmates.
“We enjoyed learning so much we extended our education to include English and maths and passed grade one and two.”
They might be senior citizens but the friends have no trouble using computers
When the opportunity came up to take a four-week refresher course at the centre, the friends were first to sign up.
That should have been the end of it, maybe occasionally meeting for a coffee. But no.
The “lessons” continue every fortnight in Harry’s flat where friends encourage each other in creative writing.
They also iron out a few wrinkles in computing, scanning and printing. It was Linda Baren 67, who set the ball rolling.
She and Harry shared the same experience of losing their partners to cancer.
“Although they didn’t pass at the same time, both were patients at Bobbing’s Southlands centre,” Linda said.
“I needed a new challenge so enrolled on the course and persuaded Harry to join. He took two days to consider, finally said ‘yes’ and was hooked from the first lesson.”
Jean Midwinter, 81, was also on the course but found she could happily live without computers, mobile phones or any of the ‘gadgets’ so essential to young people.
But she did enjoy English and had the gift of story telling.
“I write my ideas on an old-fashioned typewriter using upper case throughout,” she said.
Shirley Mannouch, 77, caught the IT bug when her grand-daughter went to live with her in Chilton Avenue.
She said: “Having a young person around was undoubtedly a spur, but I taught myself through trial and error.
“I, too, enjoy writing stories so joined Harry’s fortnightly get-togethers.”
Kitty Dane, 77, of Murston, is also a friend of the writing circle who was on the original computer course.
“A couple of others dropped out due other commitments but are still welcome,” said Harry.
Apart from the Tuesday morning sessions, where discussions veer from story structure to emailing and shopping online, they also go on trips to museums and other attractions.
“Politics and religion are an absolute ‘no-no’,” said Harry. “But our chats are lively enough to keep thinking sharp.”