Tony Pritchard was 78 years old when he learnt how to use Facebook.
After a career as an aircraft engineer, the now 79-year-old found himself with a lot more time on his hands, and a desire to “get into computers”.
“Things have moved on a lot since I was involved with them,” he tells Mamamia. Although Tony owned a tablet, he didn’t really know how to use it.
“I had one of my sister’s granddaughters stay with us in Australia and she was able to book air fares around the world, and use Skype. And that’s what I wanted to do,” he continued.
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That’s when he enrolled in a Telstra Tech Savvy Senior class in his hometown of Warwick, South West Queensland. The classes are a partnership between Telstra and the Queensland Government, which aims to give older Australians technological skills to help them socialise, access important services, and conduct personal business, from banking to online shopping.
Eventually Tony would go on to create a Facebook profile, where he would become friends with an American woman named Kathy Wicks. The mother-of-six lived over 15,000 kilometres away in Virginia, drove a Winnebago, and shared the exact same birthday as Tony’s.
Although he isn’t sure exactly how they got in contact, Tony says she initially reached out to him.
“I think she contacted me actually. I can’t remember what happened, we just started talking,” he says.
“There’s a song by John Denver, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’. He talks about the ‘blue-ridge mountains,’ and the ‘mountain mamas’. She’s one of them.”