A black-belt in jiu-jitsu, who runs an Oxfordshire new-home location, says he hasn’t needed to throw his weight around to motivate his team to launch a brand-new collection of homes for a national housebuilder.
Paul O'Keeffe at Bovis Homes' Stadhampton location in Oxfordshire
Paul O’Keeffe is site manager at Bovis Homes’ Hampton Meadow location in Stadhampton, where Bovis Homes is building the first of a new housing range, which will soon be launching at sites across the country.
The five-bedroom show home, called The Birch, will be the flagship property of the new collection– all named after trees – and the property is due to be complete by the end of December.
Paul, from Witney, said: “No chokes, locks or throws have been necessary - we have such a hard-working team here that are fantastically well motivated. They are doing their upmost to ensure quality Oxfordshire homes are built on time, so that home buyers can enjoy them at the earliest opportunity.
“The location has started really well and our new, brilliant show home is less than two months from completion. We have great bricklayers and groundworkers who are doing a terrific job and are very excited to be working on the new housing range.
“It’s a lovely, scenic development. It’s drawing so much interest because of its location. The amount of people we’ve had stopping by has been unbelievable. I think this area will sell fantastically, I really do.”
Paul started practising the martial art in Cowley around 20 years ago, and said: “I was quite late when I began jiu-jitsu in my early twenties. I used to train at a local gym and got chatting to the guy that runs the martial arts class - he was probably one of the best technicians I’ve ever seen.
“He said to come along and try it one day and I did. It was an eye opener to say the least! After a few weeks, when you learn how to do your falls properly, the next thing you know you’re flying everywhere!
“You’d be on the tips of your toes and in locks and all sorts! He really opened my eyes to the martial art and it’s such a challenge. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“I’m quite competitive and when I went for the black belt, it was so tough. You’ve got a mental battle going on and it’s very physical. You fight for your belt, with eight black belts lined up in front of you and there’s throw after throw, and you’ve got to defend multiple attacks. It was seriously intense.
“When I got that black belt, I made sure I never let the club down. You want to represent it as well as you can.”
And it isn’t just jiu-jitsu that Paul has excelled at. He also swam for Oxfordshire clubs as a teenager, breaking records for his age group.
His strong performances at Kidlington & Gosford Swimming Club, Maxwell Swim Club in Aylesbury and City of Oxford Swimming Club, saw him go out and train in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
The sports-keen site manager now watches his eight-year-old son, who hopes to be a professional footballer when he’s older, play football every weekend.
Having swapped his swim cap for a builder’s hard hat, Paul, who also has an 11-year-old daughter, said the new Hampton Meadow location was already proving popular with potential homebuyers, from both the local area and further afield.