Doctor lives in caravan on drive to protect parents from Covid-19

A junior doctor has spent the last five months camping in a caravan on his parents' driveway to protect them from coronavirus.

Chris Thomson, from Neston in Wirral, has been living in the motorhome since the start of lockdown in order to keep his family safe.

The 29-year-old, who has been working on the frontline, said he made the decision to move into the caravan on the day that lockdown was announced and he's been there ever since.

The move was only supposed to be a temporary solution to the problem but Chris said he has no regrets when it comes to keeping his family safe.

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Chris told Cheshire Live : "At the time, in March, I was working in a hospital with patients that had covid so there was that risk of bringing it home every single day.

"Everyday it was becoming more and more obvious that this was going to be a problem for the country quite quickly.

"It hadn't really dawned on me that I had to move out."

Chris's parents are in their 60s and have underlying health conditions making them more vulnerable to the virus.

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As the country adjusted to the news of a lockdown, Chris and his family decided to take action.

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He said: "By the time it got to the Friday night (the day of the lockdown announcement) I came home and told my parents I'm going to have to move out here, it isn't safe, and my dad was like yeah, the motorhome is ready.

"He had been preparing it over the course of the week for me to move in."

So that's what Chris did.

The two-berth motorhome, which Chris's parents bought themselves as a retirement present, was big enough to sleep, shower in and cook small meals.

Chris said: "It was a quick fix but I didn't quite think that I would still be here.

"They bought the motorhome when they retired a couple of years ago as a gift to themselves and I've spent more days in it than they have so I feel pretty guilty about that.

"I can't begin to explain how weird it has been. It's all a bit of a blur."

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Chris didn't go into his parent's house at all for the first two months of lockdown but he was only a few metres away, camped out in the van on their driveway.

After a long day at work Chris would have an evening meal prepared by his parents that they would hand over via the driveway.

Chris would return the favour by helping out with his parents' shopping and getting their prescriptions as they shielded from the virus.

He said: "They felt very safe because I was living on their drive but able to help them out as and when I needed to."

When lockdown began to ease Chris started to use his parent's downstairs bathroom, which can be accessed from the driveway, but he still hasn't been into the house or hugged his parents.

Chris added: "Things have been a bit more normal for the past couple of months with being able to go and see friends and doing more normal things.

"But I'm still continuing to work in a hospital so I will come back here (the van) as opposed to being in the house."

The hardest thing for Chris to get used to has been the sleeping arrangements.

He said: "The bed has some slats to pull out and putting it up and away again everyday has been exhausting.

"When you come home from work you don't want to just come into a room with a bed, you want somewhere to sit in a separate room otherwise you don't sleep well."

The 29-year-old has now bought a flat in Liverpool and will be moving in next week.

Despite the difficulties of living in the caravan, he said there has been an element of humour.

Chris added: "The neighbours know my family quite well and know where I work so they had a laugh about it.

"There was a funny stretch of time when I was clapping for the NHS out of the door of the van and they would all be clapping and looking at me and waving at me whilst I am in the van, it was like being the Pope."

Deliveries to the house have also been fun.

Chris said: "When they walk past the motorhome they're probably not expecting anyone to be in there, then I'm in there and they can see my face in the window and when I pop out and get the parcel they are a bit shocked.

"Also, our neighbours have got a lot of cats who all like to sleep on the roof of the van so they sometimes scratch the roof and things, so it's all a bit surreal."

Chris, who has had a negative antibody test and experienced no coronavirus symptoms, has said his experience of working in a hospital has been less stressful than most.

He said: "The hospital that I worked at was really well staffed so there was lots of support around in terms of other doctors, senior support.

"It was great because there was a real feeling of togetherness. You were all in it together.

"That took a great deal of stress away from it for me because when you are part of a team environment like that it does really help."

The junior doctor is set to move into his new flat in Liverpool next week – but will he miss the caravan?

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He said: "I love the outdoors and camping but I'm looking forward to a few home comforts.

"I think it will be a while now before I decide to venture down the motorhome route again.

"It has made me appreciate living spaces more though."

Chris can't thank his parents enough for their support.

"They've been really good to me, and helped me out with food and washing and helped me with the flat I'm buying.

"I'm sure they probably felt guilty at times.

"There's an overarching purpose here with helping to keep people safe which the rest of the country is joining in with too."