Terminally ill man enjoys campervan thanks to £4,000 donation

Keith Douglas, left, with his son Scott and wife Karen
Keith Douglas, left, with his son Scott and wife Karen
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A terminally ill man is enjoying the open road once again after friends and neighbours raised more than £4,000 to convert his beloved campervan.

Keith Douglas, of Burghead, Moray, suffers from a rare lung condition and was given just a year to live in May 2014.

This is just a silly wee van, but what a difference it has made

Karen Douglas

He may have defied the expectations of doctors, but Mr Douglas’s health has deteriorated rapidly in recent months and now has had both legs amputated due to the side effects of medication.

Getting out the house has become increasingly frustrating and for every journey made, an hour would be spent getting him in and out of his car.

Now, thanks to the generosity of his supporters, Mr Douglas is tasting a bit of freedom once again after an upgrade of the van allowed him to be wheeled straight into the back without the need for him to leave his wheelchair.

It is a simple move which has dramatically improved the quality of his remaining time.

Yesterday, Mr Douglas was sitting in the back of his 23-year-old VW T4 - which they have called Katie - at Burghead Harbour where he and his wife watched the boats and eat their lunch.

He said: “It’s lovely just to be able to sit here and watch the boats bob up and down while drinking a coffee. It’s the little things, to be able to enjoy them. This is just a silly wee van, but what a difference it has made.”

Fitting out the camper has, his wife Karen says, has changed their lives.

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It means that they can be out and about enjoying things together while they still can.

Karen, 41, said: “To be honest, it has been amazing. Going out in the van has always been special for us but the fact that our friends and family and even strangers have helped us use the campervan again makes it feel like she is really loved.

“We are so grateful the support we have received. It is such an amazing community. We could not live anywhere else.”

Mr Douglas, a former loom technician at Johnston’s of Elgin, was diagnosed with his condition 14 years ago.

Family friend Lara Kirkwood arranged a fundraiser last year for the couple to go to Chessington World of Adventures with their 11-year-old son Scott.

Now, further funds raised has allowed them to buy ramps to wheel Mr Douglas into the back or side of the van. A swivel chair has also been placed in the front so that the passenger can turn around and speak to him easily.

It is hoped that the couple will hit the road when the weather improves and visit family and friends in England on what could be one of Mr Douglas’ last long journeys.

But for now, the Douglas family are content with their coffees and sandwiches at the harbour, and to enjoy those ‘little things’.