Medal collector David Fordham was among more than 2,200 people Surrey County Council helped to get online for the first time last year.
The retired Creative Director learned how to use the internet, email and social media at one of the free courses run by Surrey’s libraries to help him swell his collection of military medals and badges. To coincide with Adults Learners’ Week, he revealed how the library sessions helped him with his hobby.
David, who was persuaded to take a course, said: “I use email to stay in touch with my friends and family and Google has proved to be a great source of contacts and forums for information – the world really has opened up for me.
“I have collected military medals and badges for many years and before I learnt about the internet, I was confined to mostly local dealers and collectors. Suddenly, I was able to contact people all over the world and I have since managed to add and exchange hundreds of items to boost my collection. This was only possible because I could use the internet.”
The sessions are open to beginners of all abilities, even those who have no computer experience and want to learn how a mouse and keyboard works before moving onto more advanced skills.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “David’s experience is a great example of how the internet can be a fantastic resource. With free computer access in all of our branches, it demonstrates just how important libraries are to local communities.
“The web opens up new opportunities to access jobs, training, education and services as well as reducing isolation through the likes of Skype and Facebook so people can stay independent for longer.”
People can participate in group sessions to learn basic skills or they can make a one to one appointment with a Computer Buddy who will help them with any specific queries they might have. The number of sessions, which run in 25 libraries, has increased by 31% since 2011 and even more sessions will be available in the future as more people seek to learn about the benefits of the internet.
Residents can go to their local library, visit www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries/learning or call 0300 200 1001 to find out more about getting online.
Notes to editors
Sessions run in the following libraries:
Epsom, Ewell, Dorking, Banstead, Leatherhead, Horley, Redhill, Caterham Valley, Oxted, Dittons, Walton, Weybridge, Addlestone, Chertsey, Egham, Ashford, Staines, Sunbury, Guildford, Camberley, Cranleigh, Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and Woking.