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Charity founder and great-grandmother, 75, on a “mission” to help improve the lives of others

PUBLISHED: 10:13 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 20 January 2018

Excel 2000 founder Penny Bevan-Jones at Splash, Sheringham, where she runs water and poolside classes for older people. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Excel 2000 founder Penny Bevan-Jones at Splash, Sheringham, where she runs water and poolside classes for older people. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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When former nurse Penny Bevan Jones founded Sheringham-based health and wellbeing charity Excel 2000 in 1993, she took inspiration from her own experiences of battling physical and mental health problems.

Penny Bevan Jones (left, centre) taking an Excel 2000 water-based exercise class at Splash, Sheringham.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYPenny Bevan Jones (left, centre) taking an Excel 2000 water-based exercise class at Splash, Sheringham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

And now, after supporting hundreds of people with similar challenges by developing programmes ranging from carers’ courses to exercise classes for youngsters with additional needs, she is set to branch out even further, thanks to a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Awards for All scheme.

Now 75 and a great-grandmother of four, Mrs Bevan Jones still heads the charity and takes classes, and, at a time of life when many people might be thinking of taking things a little easier, says she is determined to continue to help people to “enjoy life and feel better”.

Penny Bevan Jones with North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb at the opening of the Excel 2000 headquarters at Splash, Sheringham. Sheringham. Photo: Karen BethellPenny Bevan Jones with North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb at the opening of the Excel 2000 headquarters at Splash, Sheringham. Sheringham. Photo: Karen Bethell

“It gives me such joy to see even one pair of eyes brighten up and it is a great privilege for me to feel I am helping,” she said.

Mrs Bevan Jones, who was a carer for both her parents and her daughter - who died two years ago after suffering from mental health problems for 30 years - feels passionately about “plugging the gaps” in support for vulnerable people.

After teaming up with community development company First Local, she launched a series of ‘Life Balance’ classes and courses and now plans to expand on that work by running activities ranging from community lunches and social events, to exercise classes for elderly people and mobility awareness sessions for people with dementia.

“We reached about 100 people from all over north Norfolk and we were so pleased with what we achieved,” Mrs Bevan Jones said. “It is about individual solutions at a local level and we are hoping to join with other organisations and to help address the huge crisis of loneliness which has such an impact on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

Mrs Bevan Jones, who won an Eastern Daily Press and Victory Housing Trust community hero award in 2012 and Eastern Daily Press and Norfolk County Council stars of Norfolk award in 2013, added: “I am here to help people and I absolutely shan’t be retiring any time soon – I enjoy life too much and my mission is to support others to do the same.”

For more information about Excel 2000 classes and courses, phone 01263 825670.

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