LOCAL businessman George Ingledew has opened a new sustainable wedding venue in Monmouthshire, featuring the first in the UK of a new type of economical, heated mineral water swimming pool.

His venture was prompted after he lost his hair as a result of alopecia in 2018 something which led him to discover the joys of cold-water swimming and became fascinated by the effects of harmful chemicals on the body’s natural microbiomes.

Since then, he has studied natural swimming pool filtration for an MBA dissertation at Warwick Business School, and is now the proud owner of the UK’s first economical mineral water swimming pool, courtesy of Bristol specialists Clear Water Revival.

“I became fascinated by the common effects on our natural microbiomes of common chemicals, such as chlorine,” he said. “In particular the harmful disinfectant by-products caused by the reaction of chemicals and organic matter.

“It’s a captivating topic and I’ve come to appreciate the importance of our co-habiting bacteria’s impact on our physical and mental health. This whole concept of killing 99 per cent of these bacteria… when you are bathing, ingesting and inhaling these chemicals you’re also killing many helpful organisms on your skin, respiratory system and gut.

“That’s why there are many conditions – lifeguard lung, swimmer’s ear, nose, mouth, rash, acne, and athlete’s foot – all caused by stripping out all the good microbes which keep us healthy.

“So, we’re at a crossroads. I call it the ‘wellness paradox’ in that while we’re all more focused than ever on biodiversity, mental, environmental, and emotional health, we’re also completely undoing this work on a regular basis.

“I believe any health spa, retreat or hotel which cares about wellness should consider natural filtration rather than chlorine, which compromises treatments and damages health.

“Part of the problem is that swimming pool companies make significant profits by ongoing sales of chemicals, so there’s an industry incentive not to offer an alternative.

“To change things means swimming against the flow. But we hope that as attitudes develop and research improves, we can start to transfer learnings from the analysis of municipal water into the health and leisure sector.”

Originally from Monmouthshire, after time working in London, 41-year-old George returned and has helped his wife Lottie to set up their new wedding venue accommodation called Llantilio House, near Abergavenny.

Barely a mile from the family home in Llantilio Crossenny, the venue features the UK’s first one-piece mineral water pool from Bristol pioneers Clear Water Revival (CWR).

CWR exclusively supply the Mineral+Biome system from Origin Aqua. This five-stage filtration process uses a living microbe biofilm, ultrafine filters, UV light and a mineraliser to ensure nutrients and pathogens are removed from the water. The result… crystal clear H20, with no plants or chlorine, enhanced with beneficial minerals plus low maintenance and reduced running costs.

George and Lottie’s pool is the first of what the company hopes to be many sold over coming years as more people recognise the many benefits of swimming as a natural, chemical-free experience.

“I grew up on the farm just round the corner,” said George. “Actually, it had a swimming pool too – a concrete one, in which we put the same chlorine as we used for cleaning the dairy! If I’d known now what I’d known then, I’d have thought twice about swimming in it.

“Now we’re offering wedding parties, among others, something modern and innovative – the chance to bathe in clear mineral water, with no chance of drying skin or damaging hair before the big day. In fact, minerals in the pool such as magnesium and selenium can actually improve people’s skin and immunity!

“The pool’s easy to maintain, it’s well-insulated so is easy to heat, and it’s been a really cost-effective option for the business. We are hoping it’s going to add the lustre to our venue needed to get people here and experience this for themselves. It’s nice to be able to offer people something so groundbreaking.”