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Man goes viral selling old caravan for charity

Words by Smiley Team

A man from Lancashire has gone viral trying to sell his late father’s 1980s family caravan to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

After the sad passing of his dad in December 2021, Michael Ellis, put his dilapidated 80s caravan on eBay after pressure from his mum, with a reserve price of just £15. 

The 42-year-old was beyond shocked when within days he was receiving bids of more than £2,000, thanks to his interesting description and running commentary with continuous updates.

The caravan attracted nearly half a million followers, two marriage proposals and even several offers of a date, and eventually sold for £2,100.

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Michael’s original description grabbed some initial attention, and started the ball of unexpected popularity rolling.

“I'll level with you," he wrote. "I don't care if it sells or not, my parents held onto it for years with some crazy notion that I'd want to do it and their old Triumph 2000 up as a project. I don't. I don't want to take up badminton either but it doesn't stop mum constantly trying to convince me to try it."

Michael also added in the description that his dad had passed away suddenly from complications following a triple heart bypass, and all proceeds would go to the British Heart Foundation.

To sweeten the deal Michael added some ‘extras’ which included a hammock unwillingly donated by his sister, the bucket used to catch water leaks, and a pack of Uno cards.

He soon added a couple of updates including: “Following a call from my Mum while I was at work, (in an office with my boss's boss's boss's boss) I need to update this listing with some further vital information which will no doubt be pivotal to a potential buyers decision making: 1) My mum is not 70! She is 71.”

Within days Michael’s caravan listing began to go viral as he continued to add regular funny updates.

'I'm delighted to have raised a good chunk of money'

“I’ve found myself becoming this weird, unintentional blogger!" Michael wrote. "But mum and I are amazed and delighted that it has raised a good chunk of money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Dad, that was the whole point.

“Mum is flabbergasted about the whole thing, bless her and while she claims the caravan is ‘vintage’ she had no idea it would be able to raise this much money. I’m obviously delighted at being able to raise money for the BHF in memory of Dad. But I wasn’t prepared for how people have reacted: I’ve had two ladies propose to me now – I presume it is tongue in cheek – and several offers of a date but I don’t think it’s a good idea to start a relationship through an eBay ad!” 

On top of proceeds from the caravan, Michael estimates hundreds more has been raised from generous donations from supporters who have messaged him.

In a poetic twist Michael’s dad, Dave, used to sell caravans and Michael jokes: “He was really bad at it, so he’d find it hilarious that I’m ‘accidentally’ proven to be much better than him. I inherited my dad’s sense of humour, so I blame this whole thing on him!”

“We’re incredibly grateful to Michael and his family for their donation to the British Heart Foundation and hope this serves as a lovely way to honour Dave’s memory while raising money for a great cause”, says Emma Dickinson, the Fundraising Manager for Lancashire at the British Heart Foundation.

Although it has now been sold, Michael’s caravan listing with his full-length commentary can be viewed still on eBay.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To donate to The British Heart Foundation, visit their website.

VOLUNTEER: The BHF's volunteers help them save and improve the live of families and loved ones. Find out more

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