Couple sleep in car for four nights to win beach hut lease

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The Independent Online

A retired couple who slept in their car for four nights to secure a lifetime lease on a beach hut said it was "like winning the Lottery".

Alan Day, 70, a retired bank manager, and his 63-year-old wife, Valerie, braved freezing temperatures to land one of two long-term leases at Avon Beach, near Christchurch, Dorset.

The hut costs £700 a season and has no electricity or water. It can only be used from April to September, and there is room for just a table and two chairs.

A delighted Mrs Day, who lives in the nearby Highcliffe area, said yesterday: "It is like winning the Lottery. It was definitely worth the long wait, it has been fantastic. We have got it for life, that has been the whole point of doing this."

The couple, who moved to the area from London five years ago, have queued every year for a short-term hut, and two years ago were "pipped at the post" for a long let. "It is very tranquil and pleasant," Mrs Day said. "We came down here for holidays before we lived here and we loved it so much."

Around 30 people queued up yesterday for the two long-term huts and a number of shorter term lets. At one stage the temperature dropped to minus 6C and the beachside shop allowed them to warm up inside. "Once the shop was closed we went and sat in the car because it was too cold to camp on the beach," said Mrs Day. They kept warm with duvets, blankets and hot drinks.

Having signed up for their dream hut, the couple took a chilly stroll on the beach, then went for a hot breakfast to celebrate.