Residents at Lark Hill Retirement Village in Nottingham have been celebrating their new-found digital skills which they’ve gained thanks to the help of a Nottinghamshire Digital Champion.

Over the past 10 weeks local volunteer, Hugh Evans, has been helping the residents learn how to get the most out of life online and on Monday 21st March 2016 he and Councillor Diana Meale presented them with certificates to mark their digital achievements.

Among the terrific stories is Christine who, in her 70s, had barely used a keyboard and didn’t know anything about the internet until she met Hugh. Hugh set up an e-mail account for Christine and got her to participate in a Skype call with his friend in Aberdeen.  Following this, Christine took the initiative to exchange e-mails with Hugh’s friend demonstrating her growing confidence of being online. She has also taken her first steps in online shopping which she expects will be enormously helpful to her in the future.

Christine’s situation is not unusual and despite today’s digitally-driven times, millions of adults across the UK have never used the internet with many of those aged over 55 years. In Nottinghamshire alone 117,000 people¹ (around 1 in 8 residents) have never or rarely used the internet.

By not being online people are missing out on significant individual, social, economic and health related benefits such as saving money, being in touch with friends and family and feeling part of modern society.

Last year the County Council launched the Nottinghamshire Digital Champions Network (NDCN) as part of the Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire Programme. The aim of the NDCN is to create and support a team of Digital Champions who can help residents and businesses get the most out of life online. So far over 60 volunteers have got involved to help and Hugh is one of them.

Hugh, aged 67 years said: “I worked in the IT industry for over 45 years and when I retired I was keen to find a volunteer role where I could use my knowledge and experience to give something back to my local community. Joining the Nottinghamshire Digital Champions Network was the perfect way to this; it means I can share my passion for the internet to help others and I also get to learn new things myself through the Network’s training and support.

“I have really enjoyed working with the residents at Lark Hill and it has given me the opportunity to fulfil my role as a Digital Champion. We’ve covered everything, from turning a computer on and off and using a keyboard to shopping online, sending emails and designing greeting cards. It has been brilliant to see the reaction by the residents as they discover how life-changing using the internet can be and knowing I have played a part in that is enormously rewarding”.

Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of Economic Development at Nottinghamshire County Council: “Hugh’s terrific work at Lark Hill really embodies what the Nottinghamshire Digital Champions Network is all about; supporting and training local volunteers who can go on to help their communities take advantage of the fantastic opportunities the internet provides. Often all people need is a little help and confidence to take their first steps on their digital journey and that’s how Digital Champions like Hugh can make all the difference”.

For more information about the scheme and how to get involved visit www.digitalchampionsnetwork/nottinghamshire or email

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