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Suffolk craftsman to star in the latest series of a popular BBC documentary

PUBLISHED: 08:56 24 November 2018

Dan Rule and Sophie Cant, the stars of a matter of the BBC Sho A Matter of Life and Debt

Dan Rule and Sophie Cant, the stars of a matter of the BBC Sho A Matter of Life and Debt


The talented carpenter Dan Rule shared the highs and lows of his entrepreneurial journey for the BBC documentary ‘A Matter of Life and Debt,’ which is screening next week.

Dan Rule of Pure Tree design, whois appearing on the BBC show 'A Matter of Life and Debt'Dan Rule of Pure Tree design, whois appearing on the BBC show 'A Matter of Life and Debt'

The second series of the popular BBC show, which tells the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by a loan, features three East Anglian entrepreneurs who have been supported to grow their business by the Bury St Edmunds-based responsible finance provider Foundation East; a chocolate factory in Ely offering new hope to youngsters with autism, a Lincolnshire well-being centre providing a blueprint for tackling obesity related issues, and Mr Rule, who is a carpenter and designer from Bulmer near Sudbury.

The show explains how Mr Rule, who is now 33, was able to set up his business, Pure Tree Design, despite being turned away from mainstream finance due to lack of trading history.

Mr Rule required a £25,000 loan to buy the machinery he needed to scale his new business.

“Dan is a very talented carpenter, but might have made a few mistakes in his past and got himself into a little bit of personal debt,” said Foundation East’s chief executive Katy Ford “Dan is dyslexic so not skilled in writing down his case, but we really believed that he had decided to turn his life around.”

One of Dan Rule's garden pergolas, which features on the BBC documentary A Matter of Life and DebtOne of Dan Rule's garden pergolas, which features on the BBC documentary A Matter of Life and Debt

But Ms Ford says that at times, “it’s been challenging” for Mr Rule.

“Dan’s intentions are always good, but sometimes its quite scary going into a bank and finance department when you are not used to doing that.”

Mr Rule explained that since meeting his fiancee Sophie Cant a year ago, she has been a pillar of love and support to him in helping him to build his business.

Mr Rule started with wooden kitchen boards and benches, then he got a contract to build large wooden garden gazebos. “Sometimes, setting up a business can be quite difficult and I did struggle at first,” Mr Rule says. “For a couple of months, I could only make interest-only payments - but I have since been able to build my business up and am really pleased with where I am now. I love what I do and if I could, I would be in the workshop 24/7.

Dan Rule carpentryDan Rule carpentry

“Now, with my workshop right next to my house I am able to see more of my kids, and they love seeing what I do.”

Upon hearing that he and Ms Cant, who is also co-director of his company, had been picked for the show, Mr Rule admits he was excited, but “definitely nervous.”

“To start with, it was a bit odd having cameras in my face! The first interview was so nerve-wracking, but after that, it was all done more naturally than I expected. I just did what I normally do, but with the cameras following me around. So in my lunch hour, they filmed me hanging up my washing! They also filmed me in my workshop and off site landscaping, chatting with Sophie about our designs.”

The BBC cameramen also filmed the Bury St Edmunds landscape gardener Tom Hoblyn with Mr Rule, as they worked on a project for a private garden near Newmarket.

2019 is gearing up to be a very busy year for Mr Rule, who is launching a sister company, Pure Tree Furniture, in the Spring. “It’ll be an online wooden furniture shop, and we want to be nation-wide,” he explained. “In my view furniture should be designed with care, made with passion and built to last. It shouldn’t be made overseas with badly procured materials, shipped in and relegated to landfill after a year in service.”

Tune into BBC on Friday November 30 at 11am (repeated Monday December 3 at 6.30am, BBC TWO) to catch Mr Rule’s story.

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