Bernard has immersed himself into all things digital – signing up to computer sessions two years ago has opened up a new world of learning, friends and social engagement. He says, “I had never used a laptop computer before, but I had read about them and wanted to learn.” Soon after attending the classes, he bought himself a laptop and has never looked back.
Bernard, who is in his eighties, suffered a stroke a few years ago. Although he’d been told he might not survive, he was determined to make a good recovery. The stroke left him with impaired vision and difficulties with memory. He says, “In the hospital, I was told the best thing to do after a stroke is to look for something new to do. They suggested crosswords but I’m useless at them, so I thought I’d give computers a go.” Using his laptop has helped to focus Bernard’s memory, improved his communication skills and had a huge impact on his life. He says, “I’m connected! I know how to email people, rather than write lengthy letters. I can do some shopping on-line which helps if the weather is bad.”
Bernard helps care for his sister Irene and the classes at the Mustard Seed Café in Lampeter give him some time to himself. He says, “It’s an opportunity to socialise, meet my classmates who are my friends now. We share stories and experiences – happy and sad and support each other. We have such a fun time, every week I go home feeling I cannot wait for the next time – it’s the highlight of my week.”
His tutor Helen Thomas said, “his humour and charm is captivating. I am always in admiration of his life achievements, he’s had a career in the army in National Service, been a Director in a paper packaging and print business and now shares the care of his sister. I have learnt a lot from his past experiences, and he’s grown from being a complete beginner to a proficient user of the Internet, Email, Skype, Facebook, Microsoft Word and Publisher.”
Developing his photography skills is next on the list of things to do for Bernard, “my message for anyone who thinks they are too old or haven’t got a clue where to start is – go for it!”