Ageing Well Award Winner
Nominated by: Gower College Swansea
Phyllis Gregory has always been a keen writer and poet. Over the course of her lifetime, she’s entered and won multiple competitions. When she started experiencing shaking hand syndrome, Phyllis found herself less able to write poetry by hand. Determined to keep doing the thing she loved, Phyllis saw this as an opportunity to learn to use a computer and enrolled on a Digital Literacy course at her local library.
For Phyllis, improving her digital literacy was about more than learning how to use a computer. At the age of 92, it helped her to get her words back.
Phyllis said: “I’ve always loved writing. Entering competitions was a hobby and it was fun winning prizes over the years, but I write because it’s my passion. Some of my poems and drawings are funny, some are about things that I’ve seen or read about that moved me.
“But as I got older my hands started to shake so badly that I couldn’t read my own handwriting. I had to stop writing by hand, I still miss it greatly. I could use a typewriter, but it wasn’t very efficient. I felt like I’d lost my words.
“The world is changing. Shops are closing and more things are moving online. It’s quite daunting for someone my age. I worried about trying to use a computer and doing the wrong thing. So, I decided the best thing to do would be to learn how to use a computer properly.”
Phyllis enrolled on a course at her local library, where she had support completing her Entry Level 1 and Entry Level 2. By 2019, Phyllis was more comfortable using a computer. But when the pandemic forced libraries to close, she wasn’t ready to stop learning.
She continued: “People think that once you get your free bus pass, that’s it. But I’m the kind of person who can’t sit still, I like to be doing things. Joining the course was daunting, but the tutors were fantastic and made me feel very welcome. I had every possible support from them. I found it to be an enjoyable experience.
“I have my words back, which is wonderful, but I’ve also made new friends. My hearing has deteriorated lately, but the college and my new friends have made sure I can keep learning. My tutor, Ruth Benson, is full of patience and empathy. She made it possible for me to carry on – I can’t thank her enough.”
“Learning is so important, especially as we get older. It keeps our minds busy and engaged. If there’s something you want to learn – or you just want to keep busy – do it. Learn Welsh or find a course in something else that you’ve always wanted to learn. Don’t think you can’t do it – you can.”