Dame Maggie Smith beat off a host of A-List actors to be named best older person’s character for her role as Violet, Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, at last night’s Roses Older People in the Media Awards.

The award was one of 10, given out in a glittering ceremony, held in central London and hosted by broadcaster and journalist, Janet Street-Porter. The Roses, which were organised by the older people’s charity, Independent Age and sponsored by care provider, Barchester Healthcare, set out to reward positive portrayals of older people in the media, or coverage which highlights the issues they face.

In a special category, which was voted on exclusively by the users of the social networking site, Gransnet, Dame Maggie Smith beat off competition from Sir Michael Caine for his role as Alfred in the Dark Knight Rises, Dame Judi Dench for her role as Evelyn and Tom Wilkinson for his role as Graham, both in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Judy Parfitt for Sister Monica Joan in Call the Midwife.

Gransnet Editor and Chair of Judges, Geraldine Bedell, explained: Gransnetters were delighted to be given the chance to choose the best older person’s character. We had a wide variety of nominations, a lot of debate - it was clear our members were looking for someone richly-drawn and interesting - and the voting was close. In the end, Dame Maggie won for her feisty, funny portrayal of the Dowager Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey. Dame Maggie was recently said to be ‘baffled’ at the lack of films for and about older people, so we’re hoping these awards may remind the media that being old doesn't mean you can't also be complex, individual and fascinating."

For a full list of last night’s award winners at the Roses, which celebrated 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, visit our website: www.independentage.org

For media inquiries, contact Rebecca Law on 020 7605 4291 or email rebecca.law@independentage.org

Notes to editor

What are the Roses?

Organised by Independent Age and Barchester Healthcare, The Roses set out to celebrate 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.

Why the Roses?

The Older People in the Media Awards, or, the Roses, have been named after Rose Hacker, the inspirational lady who got her first job in journalism with the Camden New Journal at the age of 100. Rose died in 2008, aged 101.

About Independent Age

Independent Age is a unique and growing charity, providing information, advice and support to thousands of older people across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It has recently merged with two other older people's charities, Counsel and Care and Universal Beneficent Society, to provide a broader range of services than any of the charities could provide separately. For more information visit: www.independentage.org

Speak to one of our advisers for free and confidential advice and information on home care, care homes, going into hospital and other related issues. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 10am - 4pm. Call 0845 262 1863 (local call rate) or email advice@independentage.org

About Barchester Healthcare

Founded in 1992, Barchester Healthcare is recognised as a UK major care provider that is committed to delivering high quality care. The organisation has adapted and grown, from one that focused on older people needing nursing care in high quality environments, to providing personalised support for adults of all ages with a range of disabilities.

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 employs almost 17,000 people to care for more than 10,000 residents at more than 220 locations in the UK and is the only care provider listed in The Sunday Times Top 25 Big Companies To Work For 2011.

For more information, please visit www.barchester.com

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