Pensioner becomes a social media star

August 16th, 20176:35 pm @

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  • Fred Wright, 91, was snapped celebrating his birthday at a social group in Staffs
  • St Giles Hospice in Lichfield tweeted it with the hashtag #MakeFredFamous
  • He has been tweeted by Boy George and it has been shared 45,000 times 

Isobel Frodsham For Mailonline

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Fred Wright, 91, was snapped celebrating his birthday at a social group at St Giles Hospice in Lichfield, Staffordshire

Fred Wright, 91, was snapped celebrating his birthday at a social group at St Giles Hospice in Lichfield, Staffordshire

A pensioner has become a social media star after a photograph of him celebrating his birthday went viral.

Fred Wright, 91, was snapped celebrating his birthday at a social group at St Giles Hospice in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

The hospice then sent out a tweet, accompanying the photo, which said: ‘A very happy birthday to Fred who is 91 on Monday. Fred attends our computer club and we promised to make him famous on Twitter so please RT.’

It soon went viral after being shared 45,000 times and reaching five million people.

The tweet, sent on August 10, attracted attention from all over the world and from famous people including Boy George, BBC 2 presenter Janice Long and singer Barbara Dickson.

Both Boy George and Ms Long tweeted the hospice, while Ms Dickson retweeted the initial tweet. 

Some users began tweeting #MakeFredFamous to increase the reach. 

A Twitter page run on behalf of the West Midlands search dogs team also posted a slow-motion video of one of the dogs carrying a sign which said: ‘Happy Birthday Fred! 91 today! #MakeFredFamous.’

As the oldest member of the Computer Social Group, Mr Wright has been getting to grips with social media since his family bought him a laptop last year.

The hospice then sent out a tweet, accompanying the photo, which said: 'A very happy birthday to Fred who is 91 on Monday. Fred attends our computer club and we promised to make him famous on Twitter so please RT'

The hospice then sent out a tweet, accompanying the photo, which said: ‘A very happy birthday to Fred who is 91 on Monday. Fred attends our computer club and we promised to make him famous on Twitter so please RT’

Boy George responded to a #MakeFredFamous campaigner, by tweeting: 'HBD Fred sir! xxx'

Boy George responded to a #MakeFredFamous campaigner, by tweeting: ‘HBD Fred sir! xxx’

BBC Radio 2 DJ tweeted Fred as well, saying: 'Happy Birthday, Fred'

BBC Radio 2 DJ tweeted Fred as well, saying: ‘Happy Birthday, Fred’

A Twitter page run on behalf of the West Midlands search dogs team posted a slow-motion video of one of the dogs carrying a sign which said: 'Happy Birthday Fred! 91 today! #MakeFredFamous'

A Twitter page run on behalf of the West Midlands search dogs team posted a slow-motion video of one of the dogs carrying a sign which said: ‘Happy Birthday Fred! 91 today! #MakeFredFamous’

Ian Leech, the community engagement manager at St Giles Hospice, said: ‘Fred’s a fantastic example of someone who is still learning in their tenth decade so it seems a brilliant opportunity to show that on social media,’ he said.

‘We expected maybe a hundred likes on Facebook and some retweets but we really didn’t expect the response we got!

‘It’s been absolutely wonderful to see such an amazing wave of lovely messages, pictures and videos from across the internet.’

A post on Facebook has been liked almost 3,000 times and shared more than 2,000 times. 

Mr Wright, who is not a member of the hospice but is a member of the club, celebrated his birthday with family but is looking forward to catching up with fellow club members to see just how far his photo has reached.

Twitter user Elaine Pritchard tweeted the hospice with a gif of Lisa Kudrow playing the character Phoebe from Friends

Twitter user Elaine Pritchard tweeted the hospice with a gif of Lisa Kudrow playing the character Phoebe from Friends

Joan Scott tweeted: 'Happy Birthday Fred! You're a celebrity now!' and included St Giles' original tweet

Joan Scott tweeted: ‘Happy Birthday Fred! You’re a celebrity now!’ and included St Giles’ original tweet

Andrew Birch waded in to the #makefredfamous hashtag, by tweeting: '91 years old and still learning #goodman'

Andrew Birch waded in to the #makefredfamous hashtag, by tweeting: ’91 years old and still learning #goodman’

His technology journey started when a family member bought him a tablet and he joined the computer group to get online.

He said: ‘I spotted a story in the local paper about the group and decided to go along and it’s been lovely to learn so much and to be part of the group, which is really friendly.

‘I never expected to be famous like this though but it’s great to be able to help the club and the hospice.

‘I use the internet for things like YouTube – I love opera and follow singers on there and as an artist, I enjoy watching other artists paint.

‘I’ve had a look on Facebook and I’m thinking about Twitter, although I might need a bit of help setting it up!’

The Active IT Society in Dublin tweeted Fred that he was a 'young'un' as some of their members are 95+ 

The Active IT Society in Dublin tweeted Fred that he was a ‘young’un’ as some of their members are 95+ 

Ian Leech (left), the community engagement manager at St Giles Hospice, is pictured with Fred (centre) and two hospice workers

Ian Leech (left), the community engagement manager at St Giles Hospice, is pictured with Fred (centre) and two hospice workers

St Giles CEO Emma Hodges said the response to #makefredfamous was phenomenal and really demonstrated the positive impact of social media.

Ms Hodges said: ‘Our volunteer led computer group encourages local people to come together, chat, learn and make new friends.

‘Fred’s story really shows that it’s never too late to start learning and we’ve seen so many positive stories shared about older people engaging with technology.

‘It’s also been great for us as it shows that hospices aren’t places where people go to die, they are part of a vibrant community which help people live full lives.’

PR and marketing coordinator at the hospice Jennie Fryer said: ‘I said I’d make him famous but we didn’t expect this at all.

‘These classes are not just for hospice patients but just part of our community engagement work Fred came in and we gave him a cake and thought we’d take a selfie.

‘He’s very much take it all in his stride, Fred has really enjoyed discovering the world of technology and the world of Youtube. I think being famous for a few days is fine for him.

‘He’s been attending the classes for twelve months now and he only started learning how to use a tablet when he was 90 which proves nobody is too old.

‘We’ve had some amazing examples of the community getting behind Fred’s campaign.’


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