Our History – updated January 2014
At the Hornsby Council owned, Epping Creative Centre in Stanley Road, Epping, a Community
Meeting for seniors interested in the formation of a Computer Club for Seniors was
held on 29th March 2000. Tribute should be paid to John and Joan Addison, Ian Dawkins
and Keith Hinchcliffe for their unselfish work in the establishment of Computer Pals
for Seniors – Epping Inc; with Ian being our first Club President. Ian and Keith
were responsible for the foundations of our administrative excellence, while John
and Joan set us on a path of technical merit and engendered great enthusiasm among
the 170 people at this meeting. A volunteer steering committee was endorsed to administer
the formalities and within ten days of the meeting, 180 people had joined Computer
Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. and it was necessary to close the membership roll
and open a waiting list for other interested seniors.
During the following months regular classes were held to train club members as volunteer
tutors, while second hand furniture and computers were purchased at auction. The
Epping Creative Centre where the classes were to be held was under renovation by
Hornsby Council at this time, so we were most grateful to the Denistone East Uniting
Church for allowing us to use their Sunday School Hall for our first lessons from
early in July 2000 until the 11th September when our dedicated training room was
ready for use.
Classes were limited to 10 students, each with a computer; with a tutor and up to
three helpers for each class. All our tutors and training helpers are fee paying
club members who enjoy helping their peers to learn about computer technology in
friendly 1¼ hour lessons of nine weeks duration. As new devices and programs have
become available we have also adopted the running of short courses and workshops
of varying lengths.
From the beginning classes were held each week day, with two in the morning and another
two each afternoon, except for Friday, when a trainer’s meeting was held.
This weekly trainer’s meeting continues to be an important part of the friendly,
efficient and well coordinated running of our club with the regular opportunity for
discussion, tutor training and reviewing of courses provided. This way we have always
been aware of changes in technology and planned for new equipment likely to be of
interest to our members.
Our Management Committee has always been involved in all aspects of the club, with
many also volunteering as tutors and helpers. All Committee members are also full
fee paying club members. Management Committee members are subject to annual elections
and hold ultimate responsibility for the overall management and operation of the
Club, while a Standing Committee with members appointed by the Management Committee,
also contributes in deliberations of the joint committees.
Careful management has allowed the appropriate replacement of equipment to ensure
members have timely access to the latest advancements in technology. We have provided
several generations of networked personal computers, laptop computers, digital projectors,
scanning devices, laser and ink jet printers, a digital camera, iPads and android
tablet computers and have provided constantly updated software.
We are pleased to have kept our annual membership fee of $30 unchanged since July
2003 when they were actually decreased substantially after the successful establishment
of the club. At this time the once only joining fee was increased from $10 to $15.
The original course fee for a nine week course has risen incrementally from $5 at
the beginning to $20 at the end of 2013. From 2015 courses from 1-3 weeks are now
$5, courses from 4-6 weeks are $10 and the
7-9 week courses are $15, with the exception of the Greeting Cards and Digital Imaging
Courses which are now $20. In 2016 we revised our costs and have had to restore
our fees $5 for 1 lesson, $10 for 2-3 lessons, $l5 for 4-6 weeks and $20 for 7-9
weeks with the exception of Greeting Cards and Digital Imaging which are now $25
due to the extra consumables used.
At the end of 2000, with the recruitment of more volunteer trainers and helpers,
the first intake of new members from the waiting list was possible, lifting membership
numbers from 180 to 206. Since then, it has been possible to invite 20 new members
from the waiting list to join the club at the start of each term. At times the total
number of members has reached 450 with more names on the waiting list. A number
of foundation members of Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. continue to enjoy
their membership and some have been active volunteers since the very beginning. Newer
members are always welcome to take on any position and some have done so with impressive
Keeping up with technology
With the gradual increase in the use of tablet computers and smart phones some people
have recently joined the club without availing themselves of the Basic Computing
Course. However, although we do not insist, even those intending only to use these
devices would find it beneficial to learn as much as possible about the basic concepts
In recognition of the latest technology trends we continue to update the courses
that are made available for our members and we encourage those who are able to become
tutors or helpers to offer their help to fellow members.
Almost from the beginning, there have been once per month special interest groups
held to promote a number of computer related interests, including; Creative Writing,
Genealogy, Digital Photography and more recently, iPads, Android Tablets and Microsoft
Windows 8 Operating System. Originally HELP Sessions were held regularly, but the
need for these has been replaced by workshops on a particular topic if the need is
expressed. These special interest groups are available free to all club members
and are a source of great enjoyment for those who choose to participate.
The welfare of our members has always been of concern and a Welfare Officer is available
to maintain contact with members experiencing serious or prolonged illness, either
themselves, or within their immediate family. We have been very fortunate in the
caring and diligent people who have always held this position.
Particularly in the early days, a number of successful applications for community
grants raised in excess of $23,000, which has all been applied, together with members
funds, towards the gradual upgrading of the Club's original aged second hand equipment
and the purchase of items needed to improve the quality of the training provided
to our members. This material assistance through grants and donations has also contributed
to the comfort, well being and safety of our members.
The majority of the software programs used on our equipment has been donated by Microsoft,
through its various Community Assistance Initiatives. Without this willing assistance
from Microsoft, the Club would have had to divert substantial funds from its equipment
upgrading projects towards the provision of the software needs of the Club.
In accordance with the Club Constitution the President can hold office for only two
consecutive years, although the other office bearers who must be re-elected annually,
can stand for office without such restrictions.
The incumbent Presidents
Since the formation of Computer Pals for Seniors – Epping Inc. have been: