National exposure for north Norfolk charity Excel 2000

The work of a north Norfolk charity will be showcased on the international stage this summer, as part of an annual event highlighting the latest research into staying active in later life.

Sheringham-based Excel 2000, which was set up by former nurse Penny Bevan Jones, offers structured movement to music sessions in East Anglia, the home counties and Yorkshire, as well as running workshops for carers and short courses aimed at helping people with physical and mental health challenges.

The charity has been working on a programme aimed at helping older people overcome a fear of water and this has been chosen to be presented in poster form at the eighth World Congress on Active Ageing, which is being co-hosted by Excel 2000 president and British Heart Foundation consultant Bob Laventure.

The event, which runs in August at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, will bring together experts from countries including the UK, Denmark, Germany, the USA and New Zealand, with exhibitions and stands, as well as public participation sessions on everything from Nordic walking and table tennis, to Scottish dancing and indoor climbing.

Mrs Bevan Jones said the Excel 2000 programme had helped even the most fearful of older people to join in water-based exercise classes, with members in their 80s swimming for the first time.

Di Richards, 73, developed a fear of water after being thrown into a pool as a child but, thanks to Excel 2000, she is now able to take her grandchildren swimming.

'I desperately wanted to combat my fear, but just the smell of chlorine scared the living daylights out of me,' Mrs Richards said. 'But, because of Penny, I now swim two or three times a week and do aqua aerobics.'

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Mrs Bevan Jones's trip to Glasgow to present her Overcoming Fear of Water programme is being funded by a �500 donation from The League of St Bartholomew's Nurses, the charity based at St Barts Hospital, in London, where she trained.

'I am really proud that the charity has been recognised in this way, and it is thanks to a wonderful team effort by a fantastic board of trustees and supporters that people from all over the world will be able to see the work we are doing,' she said.

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