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Rodborough Fort

ALICANTE resident John Stevens’ childhood memories were stirred following a £100m Court battle – involving a former penniless ‘hippy’ couple.

"The £3 million Fort where Dale Vince lives is 2 miles from where I lived the first 30 years of my life," said John Stevens, 66, who has retired to Los Montesinos.

Wind farm tycoon Dale Vince lives in the £3m 18th century Rodborough Fort, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, having once lived in an old ambulance, powered with a home-made wind turbine-recycled materials.

Vince, 55, who split from his wife Kathleen Wyatt, 22 years ago, is awaiting a Supreme Court decision over maintenance payments. After they divorced she contacted the Child Support Agency (CSA) who began investigating the finances of Mr Vince, who founded Ecotricity – one of the UK’s biggest green energy companies.

Vince, awarded the OBE in 2004, worth an estimated £107 million, left school aged 15, and married his ex-wife in 1981 after meeting as ‘hippy travellers’. Vince lives in the £3m 18th century Rodborough Fort, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, with his new wife and their five-year-old son.

Owner of Gloucestershire based Forest Green Rovers FC, Vince has banned red meat, installed an organic football pitch – cut by a solar-powered lawnmower. Wyatt, who lives in Monmouthshire, and has slept in a bus station, had her claim for maintenance struck out by the Court of Appeal. Her lawyers are now challenging this decision in the Supreme Court.

Philip Cayford QC, for Miss Wyatt, said: ‘It’s a remarkable story. "The issue is whether the wife is entitled to a penny of that or not." Senior family judge Lord Justice Thorpe said she had left her claim – amounting to around £100,000 for every year since she divorced him in 1992 – far too late."

"When I was 10 my cousin and I used to go caving on Rodborough common," recalled John.

"The cave entrance was just big enough for us to enter – but big inside. It was known locally as ‘The Fairy Caves’," said John. "It was blocked up inside, but believed to go underground to Rodborough Fort. It’s the building Dale now lives in," added John.

John said: "We used to round up cows – and ride horses – left on Rodborough Common, National Trust land. When I was 11 to 13 years old our school cross country course went up the hill, past the Fort." Vince, the son of a road haulier father, lived on the road in his twenties and had an ex-army lorry – with a wind turbine on top. Having stopped on top of a hill in Stroud in the early nineties, in

1996 he founded Ecotricity, which has 60 turbines around the country, and 125,000 customers, employing 400. John, who has lived in Spain for over a decade, said: "The owner previous to Dale Vince, ran it as a caravan park, and my uncle parked his caravan there when on holiday. "We visited him there in the Fort grounds." Former tailor John said: "I worked for nearly 22 years, in tailoring, and I had views to Rodborough Fort from there.

One field, between the Fort and my workplace, was supposed to be cursed! "Every year, when the grass was cut, our boss would say, ‘it will rain today’. It always did. A gypsy curse people said.

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