Older people emerge as a mentoring force online

Winners announced for the 2009 Yell and horsesmouth Mentoring Works Awards

Birmingham, (PresseBox) - The potential for online mentoring to unlock and use the wisdom of older, experienced and retired professionals is demonstrated today by the winners of the Yell and horsesmouth Mentoring Works Awards. The three awards for business mentoring, which were drawn from user nominations on the online mentoring website horsesmouth.co.uk have all been won by individuals over the age of 50.

As the Government seeks to get millions of older people online to enjoy the benefits as part of the Digital Inclusion agenda, these award winners remind us of the contribution that older people can make to the wisdom of the crowd, and specifically of how enjoyable and rewarding an activity online mentoring can be.

The winner of the coveted £1000 Mentor of The Year Award is 64year old Keith Williams from Ackworth in Yorkshire, who uses the horsesmouth alias 'KWilliams'. A SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) accredited professional, Keith advises small businesses and social enterprises, but he is also a volunteer mentor on horsesmouth.co.uk which allows him to support people who could not afford to hire him, or who he could never geographically meet. Having created and developed many successful businesses in the last 20 years, Keith has made plenty of mistakes and learned from them. Today, he believes he can pass on this learning to young entrepreneurs on the way up and that horsesmouth is a safe and convenient way to do that.

Commenting on the win, Keith said: "I am honoured to have been nominated and to have won this award, and believe it shows real recognition of the value people like me can offer on the horsesmouth website.

"I was keen - from the outset - to help younger people avoid some of the classic business mistakes. I would really encourage anyone who can to offer their experience and time mentoring through this medium. Not only will they be helping their mentees to become better business people faster, but the gratitude received in return will provide a real sense of fulfilment."

One of the horsesmouth members who nominated Keith, was 38year old Kauser Parveen, who commented: "...with his no nonsense style he was able to provide confidence and guidance as well as additional contacts and resources."

Winner of The £500 Editor's Prize, for the most inspiring story published on horsesmouth.co.uk, is 51year old Jayne Bellis from Chester whose horsemouth alias is Pennysmart. The £500 M-Factor Award - for the most active business mentor with the highest rating on the site, goes to 52year old Michael Birchmore (alias Quigon) from Portsmouth.

MT Rainey, founder and CEO of horsesmouth.co.uk, commented: "Older, experienced and retired business people often develop consulting type businesses anyway and this is an easy way for them to volunteer; to engage online in a meaningful way and to reach many more people. With time on their hands and experience on their side they are a massive untapped resource for small and growing businesses in the UK.

"These awards, which were open to all our business mentors, really show that for business mentoring we should not be wasting the willingness and 'the wisdom of the older crowd'."

Kimberley Watts-Fitzsimmons, Corporate Responsibility Manager for Yell in the UK, added: "Mentoring has become an increasingly valued business resource, and it's great that startups and small businesses are now able to tap into the knowledge and experience of people, who are likely to have a wealth of business insight, on horsesmouth for free. Coupled with some of the great information and resources that exist online for business, online mentors can add the personal touch and the inspirational element."

About horsesmouth.co.uk:

horsesmouth.co.uk, the world's first 'prosocial' networking site is purposebuilt for online mentoring on a wide range of topics including education, careers, health, families and relationships and is free and available to anyone over the age of 16. The site is professionally hosted, managed and moderated and all profiles, stories and weblinks are approved before posting.

Horsesmouth is a Social Enterprise and was Founded in 2008 by advertising entrepreneur and prominent media industry figure MT (Mary Teresa) Rainey, who cofounded the top five advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

The horsesmouth community now has about 25000 members and has had over a milion visitors. The site was named as one of the top 25 'Web 2.0' startups in the UK in 2007 by The Register.

The site was initially funded by Edge, the foundation which campaigns to raise the status of practical and vocational learning, and v, the charity launched to champion youth volunteering in England.

Horsesmouth does not accept advertising and the site generates revenue from hosting partnerships with third and private sector organisations.

Yell Group plc

Yell is a leading international directories business operating in classified advertising markets in the UK, US, Spain and Latin America through printed, online and telephonebased media.

Yell's principal brands include: in the UK, Yellow Pages, Yell.com and 118 24 7 in the US, Yellow Book and Yellowbook.com; and in Spain, Paginas Amarillas and PaginasAmarillas.es. All these brands are trademarks.

Yell's online image library, containing product shots and logos can be found at: www.yellgroup.com/images www.yellgroup.com

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