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Ralph Handscomb - Ageing Well Award Winner Nominated by: Adult Community Learning Merthyr Tydfil

Retiree Ralph Handscomb, from Merthyr Tydfil has helped people search for jobs during lockdown, he’s a learner and a volunteer working with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Adult Community Learning at The College in Merthyr and the town’s JobCentre Plus.

Ralph said: “I have always been fascinated by computers. But with my seven O Level passes from the 70s, there were limited options in the industry, so my interest really began to grow when we got our first huge desktop PC at home in 1996. I took evening classes and was surprised how different it was to my school experience.  People actually wanted to be there, and it just showed you can continue learning, in your own time and around your family commitments all while being treated as an adult.”

Ralph passed his first computer qualifications – CLAIT Level I and IBT Level II – in 1996 with and then went on to secure his European Computer Driving Licence in 2008.

He said: “I always brought my digital skills into every job I had, even as a bus driver I helped everyone in the office digitise and overhauled the route systems. Staying as up to date as possible with my training courses meant when I joined the Welsh Assembly Government in 2000 as the “new” Windows 95 system was introduced, I had already had five years’ worth of experience.

“My night classes and qualifications resulted in three promotions within the civil service but after 18 years I retired. I spent some time in the garden, but my wife wanted me to do something to fill my time – and to get me out from underneath her feet.”

Ralph returned to “school” completing the Award in Education and Training (Level III), which now enables him to share his skills and experience through his voluntary work. He said: “I’ve always enjoyed helping people with computers. It’s that lightbulb moment where it all clicks for them or that ‘ah’ sound when they realise how much time they can save.”

Ralph continued: “Learning has helped me throughout my career and now I’m so happy that I can help others. Everything these days is online, and it can be cruel to those who are intimidated by it, even registering at the JobCentre is all digital as is looking for a job.

“I will never stop learning or teaching, it keeps my brain active and makes me feel good. I regularly practice my new methods on my family, I take pride in seeing my learners pass, gain confidence and the doors opening up for them personally and professionally. Once the learning flame ignites and burns the learners will achieve, and that pride is immeasurable.”