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'Stigma attached to being a gypsy' - traveller who built £280m fortune challenges stereotype

Alfie Best, chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, says he still has to deal with the stigma attached to being a Romany gypsy. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Alfie Best, chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, says he still has to deal with the stigma attached to being a Romany gypsy. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

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He built a multi-million pound business empire from nothing, becoming one of Britain's most incredible success stories.

Alfie Best is expanding his Wyldecrest Parks empire into Suffolk. Picture: WYLDECREST PARKSAlfie Best is expanding his Wyldecrest Parks empire into Suffolk. Picture: WYLDECREST PARKS

Yet one of the country's leading businessmen has revealed that despite his astounding success, he still has to deal with the stereotype of his traveller roots.

Alfie Best is of the UK's richest people, with a fortune of £280million from his Wyldecrest Homes empire - building 80 luxury park home estates for the over-40s across the nation.

"I am a Romany gypsy and grew up in a caravan when mobile homes and park homes weren't even around," said Mr Best, who grew up and lives in Essex.

"Now it has come completely in a different direction and park homes are becoming part of the housing chain."

Alfie Best built his business after growing up in a caravan. Picture: WYLDECREST PARKSAlfie Best built his business after growing up in a caravan. Picture: WYLDECREST PARKS

Wyldecrest Homes is currently building a £4.2m park home estate on a former scrapyard in Rookery Drove, Mildenhall, marking the company's first foray into Suffolk.

Mr Best hopes to build more park homes in the county, believing they can become a key part of meeting the high demand for affordable homes and help resolve the housing crisis.

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"I want to find a solution to a problem to a problem which no-one else has found the solution to," he said.

Alfie Best, chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, has built a fortune of £280million. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHAlfie Best, chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, has built a fortune of £280million. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

"This needs to be recognised as one of the solutions, if not the solution, to affordable housing."

Yet even though Mr Best has proved himself as one of the country's leading businessmen, he said of his roots: "There is still a stereo-stigma there.

"I have to go above and beyond with our service and quality, because I am a gypsy.

"The quality bar has got to be higher because of the stigma attached to being a gypsy."

Mr Best said that if it is wrong to stigmatise someone for their age, gender or skin colour, it is also wrong to stereotype travellers.

"For me, it's a hurdle that's there," he said.

"I think I definitely create a certain amount of trust in our business - the figures speak for themselves.

"The only people who are going to change it are people like me. A man has to know who he is to know who he can become."

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