Yellow VW camper van loan is boost for charity

A charity that supports adults with learning difficulties has been lent a yellow VW camper van rent-free for a year by a generous businessman.

Flower Pod manager Jane Hufton with delivery van Cathy, donated by the owner of Sherwood Restorations, Mr Richard Ellis.

The 1972 van was spotted by Mrs Anna Joyce, events organiser at Reach Learning Disability — a charity with bases in Southwell, Newark and Mansfield, that supports more than 150 adults across the county with learning disabilities.

Reach also runs a social enterprise project, called Flower Pod, at Nottingham Trent University’s Brackenhurst campus, Southwell, which sees clients from the charity run their own flower-cut business, and supplying flowers to events such as weddings and funerals.

Mrs Joyce said when she saw the van on the forecourt of Sherwood Restorations, Upton Road, Southwell, she took a picture of it and put out a jokey message on Twitter asking if anyone wanted to get it for them.

Mrs Joyce said: “It has always been one of our dreams to get a van so our clients can sell their flowers out of it and hopefully one day employ them and our volunteers as paid members of staff.”

Soon after she sent the tweet, the owner of Sherwood Restorations, Mr Richard Ellis, of Mansfield, got in contact with the charity saying he would lend them the van as a pilot project in the hope it would promote the Flower Pod.

“The charity was overwhelmed by the generosity of Richard,” said Mrs Joyce.

“It is really vital that we get our clients out into the community and to break down the barriers in society.

“It is a good marketing tool for us.”

The van is named Cathy after Mr Ellis’ niece and would cost £9,995 to buy.

Mrs Joyce said clients from Flower Pod hoped to start using the van in March to sell their flowers.

One of Mr Ellis’s conditions of giving the van was that the charity must promote giving blood and flyers will be given out from the van.

A video about the camper van has been made by Mrs Joyce’s son, Mr Dominic Joyce, who is a film maker.

It can be seen at