KEEPING over-60s fit is the idea behind a new business which took the top prize at a business contest last week.

Carl Davies from Over 60 Exercise won £1,000 at OxfordshireSOUP, described as ‘live crowdfunding meets Dragons Den’.

The 29-year-old will use the money to rebrand his firm Deluxe Health Group, which runs classes from village halls in Sutton Courtenay, Radley, Wallingford and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

Mr Davies beat-off competition from three other fledgling firms at the event held at Abingdon and Witney College’s Witney campus.

These included a gin which claims to combat ageing, a venture to help people sleep better and organic hair dye.

Each business makes a four-minute pitch and the audience, who have bought tickets, vote for the business they think is most viable.

What was up for grabs?

Winners are given all the cash from ticket sales plus £500 from sponsors Oxfordshire Business Support and Hendry Performance Development.

Mr Davies told the audience about his difficult childhood and how he become involved with gangs in High Wycombe, where he grew up.

He was sent to prison aged 18 but turned his life around, graduating from Brookes University with a 2:1 degree in business and marketing.

The motivational trainer describes himself as “a man on a mission”.

He explained: “I didn’t have good examples growing up, so I talk to young people about negative stuff that happened to me but balance it with the positives.”

He has always been passionate about keeping fit and was shocked to learn of an epidemic of chronic disease among over-65s.

He said: “Diabetes and high blood pressure can be reduced or managed through exercise and with an ageing population putting more strain on the NHS, it has never been more needed.”

Classes are low-impact and limited to 12, to make sure exercises are done safely.

He plans to commission a crew to film classes and also to launch a social media campaign.

He added: “I am so grateful and humbled to have won OxfordshireSOUP.

“I have a chance to create a good business but also help people maintain their health as they get older.”

OxfordshireSOUP founder Tina Marshall said: “With a reduction in government funding and grants available for small businesses, we aim to fill a gap. The elegance of OxfordshireSOUP is its simplicity of grassroots funding.”

Will Barton, business development officer at West Oxfordshire District Council which supported the event, explained: “All the businesses are getting something out of it whether they win or not.”

Another OxfordshireSOUP will take place in Oxford later this year.

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