ASOS CEO Nick Robertson got the booby prize at last night’s Older People in the Media Awards 2013 (Tuesday 19 November). His suggestion that high-profile fashion director Kate Bostock had quit because she was too old at 56 for the online clothes business bagged Mr Robertson the evening’s less-coveted ‘Thorn’ award which aims to expose the worst example of stereotyping, factual error or misleading information regarding older people.

Explaining Ms Bostock’s exit from the company, Nick Robertson said “I’d love to say it was more sinister and complicated, but she gave it six months and decided it wasn’t for her. Strategy wasn’t the issue, it was more about cultural fit and time of life.”

Questioned further, he continued, “Our average age is 27 or 28. People get to a stage in their career, where they’re either up for a very big challenge or they’re not.”

The ‘Thorn’ award was one of 10 awards given out last night - the remainder of which recognised and rewarded positive portrayals of older people or sensitively highlighted the issues they face.

Mr Robertson was aware of his shortlisting for this year’s ‘Thorn’ but was unable to attend the ceremony, which was hosted by the older people’s charity Independent Age and sponsored by care provider Barchester Healthcare. Explaining the judges’ decision, Independent Age Chief Executive and chair of judges, Janet Morrison, said: “Saying Kate Bostock left ASOS because of her age seemed completely irrelevant to the issue. Nick Robertson went into territory he just didn’t have to go into, and then when challenged, he made it worse.” Mr Robertson’s ageist faux pas saw him beat off competition from the category’s other finalists who were Alan Titchmarsh, for suggesting that women should stop “whingeing” about ageism in television, The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister, for recommending that “old people should hurry up and die” and Doctor Who fans who dubbed Peter Capaldi “too old” to play the Time Lord.

The event, which took place at London’s Royal Society, and was hosted by Gavin & Stacey star, Larry Lamb, was a true celebration of the best examples of coverage, across all media, concerning older people’s issues from news reporting, through to photojournalism and the best portrayals of older people in films or TV drama. Larry said of the awards: “As a signed up member of the seniors club I am thrilled to have been asked to present these fantastic awards last night”.

More information on the Older People in the Media Awards 2013, including full details of shortlisters and winners can be found at

Notes to editor

Older People in the Media Awards Winners 2013

1) Best factual newspaper or magazine article about older people’s issues

• Highly commended:The Guardian, Family: Did I do the right thing? by Louise Smith

• Winner: The Guardian, Weekend: When elderly care goes wrong, by Amelia Gentleman

2) Best use of photography to illustrate older people’s issues

• Highly commended: Sun City, by Kendrick Brinson. A series of photos documenting the lives of a community of pensioners who are living life to the full in Arizona’s Sun City, carried by the Mail Online

• Winner: The long goodbye, by Susan Falzone. Haunting pictures capturing the final days of Susan’s aunt with Alzheimer’s, published by the Mail Online

3) Best coverage of issues around dementia (Barchester special award)

• Highly commended: BBC Radio Kent, the Dementia Diaries

• Winner: The Sunday Times: My mother and dementia, by Richard Girling

4a) Best factual new media content (written) about older people’s issues

• Winner Darren Gormley: Making dementia care personal

4b) Best factual new media content (video) about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: BBC News, Magazine (online): Meet the world’s oldest hip hop dance crew, by Mauricio Olmedo-Perez 

• Winner: Social Care Institute for Excellence: getting to know the person with dementia – the impact of diagnosis

5) Best factual radio programme about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: The Why Factor, BBC World Service: ageing

• Winner: Julia George, BBC Radio Kent: Is old age something to dread, or can it be fun?

6) Best independent voice on older people’s issues (Independent Age special award)

• Winner: Beth Britton

7) Best older person’s character in a film, TV or radio drama (Gransnet special award, voted on by the readers of Gransnet)

• Winner: Anne Reid for Celia in Last Tango in Halifax

8) Best factual TV programme about older people’s issues

• Highly commended: BBC1: Panorama, Old, drunk and disorderly?

• Winner: BBC1: Golden Oldies

9) ‘The Thorn Award’: worst example of stereotyping, factual error or misleading information in the coverage of older people’s issues.

• Winner: Nick Robertson, Asos CEO, for suggesting his high-profile fashion director had quit because she was too old for the online clothes business at 56

Overall award winner

• Winner: Darren Gormley: Making dementia care personal

About Independent Age

Founded 150 years ago, Independent Age is a growing charity helping older people across the UK and Ireland through the ‘A, B, C’ of advice, befriending and campaigning. We offer a national telephone and email advice service focusing on social care, welfare benefits and befriending services, which is supported by a wide range of printed guides and factsheets. This is integrated with on-the-ground, local support, provided by a network of over 1,500 volunteers offering one-to-one and group befriending.

For more information, visit our website Speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 10am - 4pm. Call 0845 262 1863 or email

About Barchester Healthcare:

Barchester Healthcare is recognised as a UK major care provider, committed to delivering high-quality care.

At Barchester Healthcare we pride ourselves on our dedicated dementia care. Our Memory Lane Communities are designed to encourage people living with dementia to stay as independent and active as possible. We understand that no two people are the same and take a person-centred care approach, recognising and celebrating each person's individuality.

Barchester Healthcare has adapted and grown, expanding from a focus on older people needing nursing care in high quality environments to providing personalised support for adults with a range of disabilities, and of all ages.

Barchester employs more than 17,000 people to care for more than 10,000 residents in more than 200 locations in the UK. The care provider is also proud to be the only care provider to make the Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies 2013 list.

For more information, please visit

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