Royal Navy veteran secures loan to set sail for a new career

A new career beckons for an ex-serviceman and his wife who claim to be Britain's oldest entrepreneurial couple.

David and Sandra Pledger have started a new business in their 70s - a booking website for independent inns and guest houses.

The pair, from Stoney Stratton in Somerset, have clinched a 25,000 start-up loan for the firm.

Royal Navy veteran Mr Pledger, 71, and his wife Sandra, 73, will use the money to launch Full House Marketing.

The Pledgers, who have been married for nearly 45 years, got the idea after turning around two Somerset companies, The Full Moon and The Thatched Cottage.

Renovating and revitalising the hotels turned into a pilot programme for the booking and marketing system which will now be developed commercially.

Their start-up comes just days after Chancellor George Osborne unveiled reforms to the state pension age, meaning people in their 20s will have to work until they are almost 70.

The Pledgers secured the loan after approaching X-Forces, a social enterprise to help veterans and their families achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Mr Pledger, who was a mechanical engineer and diver in the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1966, said: "X-Forces were on the ball throughout the whole business planning process and when submitting our loan request."

He said the whole procedure took under three months.

Mr Pledger added: "For small hotels, using commercial packages to improve occupancy such as LateRooms doesn't provide a good return on investment because of the high commission rates."

He said his new business's technology will offer a deal to family-run and independent hoteliers that is both affordable and profitable.

Mr and Mrs Pledger have first-hand knowledge of the industry.

They previously worked as hoteliers turning round ailing West Country B&Bs and small-scale hotels.

The Pledgers have spent the last quarter under the auspices of specialists at X-Forces, which was unveiled by Lord Young in the summer and has the support of Cisco and Barclays.

Copyright Press Association 2013