Ipswich: Silver surfers reminisce with help from the web and Google Earth

BACK in their day, memories were captured in black and white – but now a group of adventurous pensioners are globe-trotting with a little help from the worldwide web.

Residents of Shaftesbury House, based in the town’s Cowper Street, have climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, ventured to beautiful New Zealand and even enjoyed music from their childhood – all thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Managers at the residential home have set up a monthly Internet Cinema where OAPs can take a trip around the world through Google Earth and other computer programs.

Using a projector hooked up to a lap-top to display giant images on a wall, staff have been using the internet to help residents enjoy virtual tours of famous attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian Pyramids.

Residents have found the information superhighway right up their street and have used the likes of Skype, which provides an online phone connection, and YouTube, to explore the world.

Activities co-ordinator Julie Clifford, said: “This has been a fantastic way of getting our residents bang up to date with the internet age.

“Many of them didn’t want anything to do with computers and the internet before we started this. They were a little bit afraid of things like that.

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“But this has made the internet relevant and proves they can enjoy computers by showing them things that they are familiar with.

“Sites like Google Earth and YouTube enable our residents to travel anywhere in the world and get a virtual experience of anything from skydiving to a trip on the London Underground.”

Ms Clifford said that residents had enjoyed taking trips down memory lane by visiting their childhood homes.

Through video sharing website, YouTube, residents have also reminisced over music from days gone by and have enjoyed the sounds of Elvis Presley, and Glenn Miller.

Ms Clifford added: “In the old days, many of the residents would have used projectors to show their holiday photos, so this is a familiar format that they can relate to.

“At first I think some of our residents were a bit unsure, but now they love it and every month they think of different things that they want to see.

“We have about 25 residents, and more than 20 of them come along to the cinema – it gets them all talking.”

Len Merton, Sanctuary Group’s director of care, added: “We believe that activities should be so much more than just bingo once a week.”

n Has the worldwide web improved your quality of life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar. co.uk