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I’m an ex-Wimbledon & TV star – now I travel around the UK in my Mercedes Sprinter van

TENNIS star Croft and her husband Mel Coleman have transformed a bog-standard white van into their dream holiday home.

The former Wimbledon player and TV presenter, 56, started the renovation project during the third lockdown in the UK.

Annabel Croft and her husband spent three months renovating their van
Before: The empty shell of their sprinter was bland and boring
During: The couple optimised every nook and cranny in their van

She told Sun Online Travel: “I never knew you could do what we did until my husband Mel asked me about fixing up a van when the whole world had shut down.

“I didn’t do camping and wasn’t familiar with the idea of renovating a van, but I started looking at YouTube videos and I simply couldn’t stop.

“Watching all the videos was very overwhelming, but it was so much fun to see what you could do with such a small space.

The couple went to their local DVP scrap yard and bought a white Sprinter van for £13,500 – with only 50,000 miles on the clock.

Back at home in south west London, Annabel, Mel and the best man from their wedding, Guy Barron, got to work on their transformation.

She said: “My husband is a former yachtsman, so he is very hands on -because there’s no one there to fix things for you in the middle of the ocean.”

The couple spent just three months transforming the van – which they named Vannabel – into the perfect holiday home on wheels.

The total renovation cost Annabel and her husband £12,000.

She said: “It’s been an amazing project, and Vannabel has become a big part of the family.”

Since they finished the transformation, Annabel and Mel have travelled across the UK.

They’ve been to the Isle of Wight, Snowdonia, Suffolk and Norfolk.

She said: “I love walking and just not being tied to anything, and heading off to visit the local area – it’s so freeing.

“We try and do two activities per day when we’re away, so we might go for a walk in the morning and then a visit to a castle or a country home in the afternoon followed by a drink at the pub.”

During: The renovation only took the couple three months
After: Their bed folds away to create more space in the day time

While Annabel hasn’t been recognised on a campsite just yet, she has been spotted while holidaying in her van.

She said: “A member of the public came up to me in the tea room. They said their friend was too shy to come up and say how much they enjoyed watching my coverage of the tennis.

“It never bothered me because I love talking to local people, Mel and I have been recommended some good spots by locals that we wouldn’t have otherwise found.”

Annabel and Mel have big plans for their van adventures.

She said: “We want to head to the Lake District, explore the west of Ireland, drive Scotland‘s northern roads, and take Vannbel through Spain.”

Through the colder months, Vannabel will be staying at home but the couple have decorated their van with fairy lights, naughty elves and sprigs of mistletoe to spread some festive cheer.

Annabel will be with the Caravan and Motorhome Club on Thursday 12 January at the Manchester Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Show (12-15 January).

She said: “We really love the way we did outs, but I love going to exhibitions to see how different people have converted their vans.”

Annabel and Mel have decorated the van with mistletoe
After: Their van is all set for Christmas Day

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