Royal Navy veteran David Pledger, 71, and wife Sandra, 73, have become Britain’s oldest entrepreneurs by securing a loan of £25,000 to start up their new company.
The husband and wife business team, from Stoney Stratton in Somerset, were told their business loan had been approved just last week and are set to launch their business, Full House Marketing, in February next year.
The company was set up following support received from X-Forces, a social enterprise launched to help veterans and their families realise their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Full House Marketing builds on the couple’s years of experience as hoteliers turning around failing B&Bs and small-scale hotels in the West Country.
Previously, David has turned around two Somerset businesses which were on the brink of receivership. Revamping and regenerating these hotels turned into a pilot program for the booking and marketing system that he and Sandra are now set to develop commercially.
David feels his military experience, which saw him serve as a mechanical engineer and diver in the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1966, has always set him up for success in the business world.
‘I joined the Navy at 16 years old and the experience taught me discipline, diligence and a lot about human nature and relationships, whether that be with peers or those senior to me,’ he says.
‘These skills have all been highly transferable and have helped me carve out my civilian career to date.’
Ren Kapur, managing director of X-Forces, says that the lift on the age cap for start-up loans which previously constrained so many has meant that more people can now get into business and do their part to help the UK’s economic recovery.
‘Age should be no barrier to realising one’s potential and for those military veterans who have served the UK so loyally and with such selfless commitment this is a real success story,’ he adds.
X-Forces was launched by Lord Young this summer and has the backing of several high profile sponsors including CISCO and Barclays.
It offers business support to anyone with a connection to the military community whether a recent leaver, or an older veteran like David Pledger.
The Pledgers were mentored by X-Forces’ director of transition and former Royal Navy officer, Mike Mackenzie, who says, ‘When David and Sandra got in touch, we could immediately see that they had a great concept and a viable business idea.
‘We provided them with in-depth advice and expert business mentoring which helped them to shape their business plan and accurately forecast the financing they would need to get the company up and running.’