Keith Paterson, founder of Silverhairs and Age UK Internet Champion for 2012

Travel Talk

Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor talks to Keith about his rcent award and about his travels and plans for the future.

Keith Paterson Congratulations Keith! I hear that you have just been nominated Age UK internet champion for 2012. What did you do to win this fantastic accolade?

I think it was mainly down to my age (80), long experience of computing (I got my hands on an IBM PC in 1982) and my large and active website I also wrote a book  called Hints and Tips for Silver Surfers. So, for the last 10 years I have been trying to do precisely what AgeUK are trying to achieve – spreading the word of being on line to the remaining 5 million older people who are still to access this great facility.

How did you first get involved in technology?

I took an Open University degree and started with a Technology Foundation year, which I enjoyed. As Area Careers Office, Cambridge, I was determined to introduce computers to all the Cambridgeshire Careers Offices and introduce an effective computer marked Interest Guide to help school leavers with their careers choice. By the time I retired I had achieved all of these things.

You have your own website www.silverhairs.co.uk – can you tell me a little more about it.

Since I started it in 2000 it has just grown tremendously. I write down what I have learnt about computing and answer the question of other people via email.  Since the beginning it has had around 500 hits per day. It has become a popular place for companies wishing to advertise to retired people. In exchange for links I ask them to donate to a charity I support, which helps youngsters in a poor South African township by enabling them to attend school. So far I have raised over £4,000 this way.

Where are your favourite travel destinations?

We like Turkey and usually manage at least a week, sailing on a gulet. But the most amazing trip was round the world, visiting Singapore (Sentosa Island), Cairns for the Barrier Reef, Sydney, New Zealand (North Island) and, best of all Fiji, where we had four days on a Blue Lagoon Cruise, around the Yasawa Islands. Unforgettable.

I understand that you have a particular affinity with Africa. How did that come about?

My son in law developed a game reserve just outside Port Elizabeth. It is called Hopewell and is open to visitors. While there we visited projects he is supporting in one of the PE Townships, so felt I had to help by raising cash for that.

Where is on your wish list of places that you would like to visit?

I would like to do a cruise on the Nile and visit the ancient sites at Luxor, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings etc.

Is there anywhere that you would never return to?

I can honestly say we have enjoyed all the places we have visited and, although we don’t book five star accommodation, it has all been satisfactory. Apart from the made-to-measure world cruise, with Trailfinders, we have tended to book package deals as they are good value and take care of all the detail such as transfers.

What is your preferred method of transport when going on holiday?

This varies but, at 80, I am finding it more difficult to get insurance to drive, though I did so the last time I was in South Africa, quite recently. We had a superb coach trip from Calgary through the Rockies. We love sailing and were lucky enough to be able to sail off Turkey and Sardinia. But as I get older I am beginning to appreciate the attractions of cruising and, for our last trip we did that in the Western Mediterranean. Good food and interesting side trips all laid on. Pompeii should not be missed.

How do you relax on holiday?

Sightseeing, lounging by a pool, enjoying the food. But I am never far from a computer, so I can keep in touch with friends and family.

Do you have any packing tips?

Personally, I don’t pack ! But if you are going on a cheap airline try to restrict things to one small bag. Clothes? If you run short you can always find a bargain when you are there.

Does that fact that you are hard of hearing make any situations more challenging when travelling and how do you deal with this?

Yes, I would be lost without my wife or in one case, my daughter, when the plane turned back to the USA having been foiled by an Icelandic volcano. But I don’t  know anyone who can make out what the announcements in airports say. It is surely time that technology came up with a better answer. We both tend to sit near one of those screens that tell you that the flight has been cancelled. I must say that one Easyjet girl spotted my affliction and we were given early access to the ‘plane, which is an advantage as they let you choose you own seats and we got the best leg room. I felt a bit of a fraud and wondered whether I should walk out to the ‘plane with a severe limp!

What are your ambitions for the future?

To keep on travelling as long as possible and tick off my ‘bucket list’, especially Egypt and a Caribbean cruise. But this year I am going to be busy helping AgeUk spread the word about ‘Digital Inclusion’. I gather I will be helping none other than Martha Lane Fox, who created Lastminute.com. She is a major player in advising HM Government how to spread the word, one which I have always been keen to promote.

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Debbie Marshall

Founder of Silver Travel Advisor

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