A couple have found a way to turn heads in the holiday traffic — by converting an old AMBULANCE into a motorhome.
Mark Bonito, 40, and Sophie Why, 35, snapped up the £5,000 Fiat Ducato at an auction after it could no longer be used by medics.
They pair had to strip out all the life saving kit – and give it a good clean – before installing a desk area, beds, a little kitchen and living room, for an extra £2,000.
Sadly the pair had to also remove the flashing blue lights, which would have helped them beat the traffic.
But Mark, a web developer, and Sophie, a radiographer, admit their unusual mobile home – named Florence after the hero nurse – still turns heads on the road.
Mark, from Chertsey, Surrey, said: “We’ve been to Dorset for the amazing panoramic views of the sea, with a 4am alarm to sit and watch the sunrise with a cup of tea.
“We’ve had a few forest adventures, some riverside stays and last weekend we stayed with the children in the South Down’s National Park, which is a dark sky reserve with an amazing view of the stars.”
“When we’ve been travelling to these places and there has been heavy traffic, we always say how handy it would be to still have the blue lights.
“We often get a second glance from other road users too!
“The van has also been great for our relationship.
“We both have families from previous relationships, so it is great being able to have time alone together in the van but be able to get back quickly to our kids if we need to.”
Mark previously owned a Volkswagen T4 which he skillfully converted into a camper.
But in April 2019, he decided to upgrade his crash pad, and refurbish an old ambulance which was destined for the scrapyard.
The emergency vehicle came fully equipped with medical equipment and they spent days disconnecting, removing and disposing of all unwanted kit.
A thorough antibacterial clean was also carried out, before the couple were ready to start renovating the inside.
Mark wanted to use as many reclaimed items as possible so they scouted car boot sales, charity shops and garage clear outs until they found everything they needed.
The bunk bed was bought at a garage and the kitchen area was built from a block rescued from a skip
The original ambulance cabinet is now a sink.
Mark redecorated the outside of the van so it still resembled an ambulance but couldn’t be mistaken for one, and added an LED light bar above the windscreen.
The refurb took two months, and they went on their first trip this month, after Mark passed the necessary enhanced driving tests needed to drive such a heavy vehicle.
Mark has three children from previous marriages and Sophie has two from a past relationship, and they often join up to travel in Florence.
They are hoping to explore the Arctic together.
Sophie, who works as a radiographer, said: “Mark is always the first to admit that some research should have been carried out, as owning an ambulance does come with its complications.”
“He likes things a little on the quirky side and liked the idea of buying a van that was complete with a good standard of servicing, and fully equipped with gadgets galore!”
“Rescuing a service vehicle that had done a heroic job from being scrapped seemed the right thing to do.”
Mark added: “We love the fact we have a reuse theme with all our reclaimed and upcycled items. Each item bears a memory of where we got it from.
“I work from the van remotely which is really comfortable. I did all the electrics, heating and internet making it a really lovely space for me to live in. My kids love it too.
“We have a real passion for cooking, and have our own blog where we share recipes that can be easily cooked in vans whilst on the road.”
“Being part of the van life community is amazing because your not tied down and you can visit the most beautiful places without leaving your home.
“It is incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”