Fenland builder sleeps in his van outside work to beat rocketing petrol prices

A FENLAND builder has spent nine months sleeping in his van outside his workplace in a desperate bid to beat steepling petrol prices.

Sick of forking out �150 for fuel every week, 62-year-old Dennis Stapleton installed a make-shift bunk bed in his work van last year.

The self-employed builder works - and often sleeps - in Sawbridgeworth, near Harlow, around 60 miles from his home in Doddington. He sleeps in his van four nights a week, returning home at the weekend to renovate his Fenland cottage.

The drastic measure has already saved him thousands of pounds.

“I had to make allowances,” said Mr Stapleton. “I was paying so much money just to go back and forth.

“I put the bunk bed in there with a couple of pillows and an army sleeping bag. It takes about 10 minutes to warm up but it’s fine after that. Once my head hits the pillow I’m normally off.

“People have laughed but who’s the mad one when I’m saving �150 a week? I don’t mind the comedy because I’m saving money.

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“I could see myself doing this for years - I like my van. I had a skylight cut into the roof but in the winter I got the condensation dripping off the ceiling into my duvet.”

After a full day’s building work, Mr Stapleton spends his evenings working as a ballroom and salsa dancer around Bishop’s Stortford. He showers every night at a service station near Stansted.

“I feel a bit like I’m on an army manoeuvre sometimes,” he said. “But it’s such a good way of saving money.

“The walls aren’t insulated so it can get a bit cold - I do get changed quickly in the morning. I feel attached to the van now. It’s like an old friend.”

Mr Stapleton does reward himself with some breaks from his Transit bedroom - by working as a dancer on cruise ships. In a few weeks, he departs for three months on the dancefloor while cruising the Adriatic Sea.

“This is life and you have to go with the flow,” he said. “If this is saving me �150 every week I don’t mind the inconvenience.

“I can see myself getting a caravan one day.”

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