By Mark McConville
THIS COUPLE’S converted van home is named after the child they tragically lost and is now a positive travelling tribute to their unborn baby.
Scott (44) and Ellie Morgan (35), from Bristol and Taunton, UK, respectively, were 12 weeks pregnant when tragedy struck.
An emergency scan revealed the baby’s heart had stopped beating and Ellie had a missed miscarriage, where a foetus dies, but the body does not actually miscarry, it still thinks it is pregnant. Doctors aged the foetus at eight weeks so Ellie’s body went four weeks without realising the foetus had died. She had an ERPC procedure to remove the remains.
The Morgans had planned to call their child Florence if it was a girl, the name they later gave to their van.
Mature film and media student Ellie, who has a 15-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, explained how they turned a tragedy into a way to spread joy as they travelled.
After the loss of their baby the couple travelled to the Brecon Beacons, as hiking helped them clear their heads and work through their problems.
Ellie’s condition made it hard for her despite her love of the wilderness, so she was delighted when they spotted Florence the van.
“We had gone to visit a friend for dinner and opposite their house, in a neighbour’s driveway sat an old camper van, unused and deteriorating,” she recalled.
“We had often dreamed of owning a camper van but could never afford one. Out of curiosity Scott went and knocked on their door and asked them if they had considered selling the van.
“They took his number and agreed to give him a call if they ever decided they wanted to. The call came a couple of weeks later, a price was agreed, which was manageable, and we became the proud owners of a 1990 Fiat Ducato or Talbot Express as this build of van is more commonly known.
“She had to have a name and we knew right away what that had to be – Florence. Sometimes the dreams that come true are the ones you never even knew you had.
“Our first summer in Florence we had some wonderful adventures, wild camping on secluded mountain roads, I noticed that on our trips, we would always see a little Robin nearby.
“Out of curiosity I looked this up and many people believe it to be a spirit animal, I don’t know how I feel about that, but the Robin to us became a symbol, to remember, the Florence who we had dreamed of, the dream that never came true.”
Ellie described what happened to her during pregnancy.
“We would daydream about the child we had, we could both see her in our imaginations so clearly,” she said.
“She would run around in the garden, digging up the worms, in her welly boots and mismatched dresses, her tangled brown hair falling loosely about her shoulders, because she didn’t like having her hair brushed. She was to be named Florence.
“I fell pregnant right away, everything we had dreamed of was happening and it all seemed like a fairy tale. Everything we had dreamed of, it was all “meant to be”.
“It was a few days before our all-important 12-week scan, I knew something wasn’t right, an emergency scan revealed, the heart of the Florence we had dreamed of, had stopped beating.
“Tests later revealed I had an underlying auto immune disease called Hashimotos. Whilst it would not be impossible to carry a baby to full term, the risks of repeat miscarriage were considerably higher for us.
“I admire the couples who have the strength to keep trying after a loss and perhaps if I hadn’t already been blessed with a child, we might have tried again. It was a risk we couldn’t bear to take.
“The loss for us was a profound and life changing experience. We were determined to make something positive out of something that had been so heart-breaking for us.
“The Florence we had dreamed of had lived, if only for a short time in our imaginations. This loss of life to us, made us value the gift of life, it made us want to truly live.”
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that is a common cause of hypothyroidism. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the body mounts an immune reaction against its own thyroid gland tissue, leading to inflammation of the gland.
The Morgans don’t live in Florence full time but refer to themselves as ‘weekend warriors’ who enjoy adventures whenever they can.
Florence the van was lovingly restored by the Morgans after her first winter with them.
“We craved a fixed bed, so we could just relax at the end of a day, without having to set up the bed,” said Ellie.
“We redesigned the whole layout of the van. The problem being after the expense of the welding job, we had very little money to achieve the task in hand.
“We had to become resourceful, we would scour free ad pages, made use of the local wood recycling centre and would visit car boot sales every weekend, looking for ways to repurpose everyday items to adapt them for use in our van.
“Our daughter was scheduled to go on a residential school trip on June 12th 2016 for one week. A week’s child care is a rarity and we knew if we were to make the most of that time we had to get the van finished by that date. This gave us just six weeks to carry out the refit.
“Early mornings, long days and late nights followed. Blood, sweat, tears and several times we wanted to give up followed. But we were determined to meet that deadline. With our seemingly impossible budget of only £1000 we achieved what seemed like an impossible task.”
The Morgans have had the 1990 Fiat Ducato since June 2016 with their longest trip being to Scotland which was over 1500 miles.
They have also travelled to the Lake District, Exmoor and the Quantock hills but say Wales is their favourite destination.
Ellie revealed what life is like travelling in their van and why the couple love it so much.
“It is such escapism for us, we immerse ourselves in the landscapes we visit, and leave all our problems behind,” she said.
“We watch the sun rise and set and enjoy the process of capturing it all on film for our vlogs. We are so lucky to have a mutual interest in film making and can share that passion with each other. Returning home, we can relive it all in our edited footage. We just love the whole process.
“It is all about the freedom of the road. We have equipped our van to work completely off grid as we love to be in remote locations with nothing but the wild life for company. We get such a great sense of peace from being out in these landscapes and always find the mountains so incredibly humbling.”
For more information see www.explorerbuddies.co.uk