A 62-year old gardener, Malcolm Applegate, who was married to his wife for three years, ran away from home and lived in the woods for ten years when he got fed up with his nagging wife.
After having had enough, Applegate made his way from Birmingham to London on foot for three weeks after his bike was stolen.
He said, “I was married to her for three years, but unfortunately it got too much. First of all I met her in Eastbourne and I married her in Birmingham. For three years it was alright, we got on with one another and the gardening got too much for her. She said, ‘Why don’t we have more time together?’ I said, ‘How can I? I have been recommended to people’. I just upped and left, I got fed up with her because we used to get so many arguments. It took me three weeks to get back to London. “I didn’t lock my bike up in Oxford and someone helped themselves to it, so I had to walk back from Oxford.”
During the time he was away, he worked as a gardener at a community centre for the elderly and lived in a thick woodland near Kingston, South West London.
He added, “There were three of us camping. They were just camping around with me because at the time I was working in the centre and we used to go there for a wash and a shower. No one knew we were there. It’s not well known – nobody would go in there.”
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He said: “It had been a decade years since I’d last seen her, and in that time she had been to all of the Salvation Army hostels in the south trying to find me.
“I think she assumed I was dead.
“I wrote her a letter once I was settled in Greenwich and she phoned me up, in floods of tears.
“We now have a great relationship again.”
Malcolm has moved into the Emmaus Greenwich centre, a shelter for the homeless in Greenwich, south London.
He said: “Before becoming a companion at Emmaus Greenwich, I was a gardener in Farnborough for 25 happy years.
“I loved the job and I still love tending to gardens now.
“It wasn’t until I got married that my life became increasingly unsettled.
“The more work I took on, the angrier my wife got – she didn’t like me being out of the house for long periods of time.
“The controlling behaviour started to get out of hand and she demanded that I cut my hours.
“After a long time trying to stay in the marriage, I decided to leave for good.
“Without a word to anyone, not even family, I packed up and left.
“I went missing from them for ten years.”
Malcolm now works at Emmaus doing a range of odd jobs and uses his spare time to raise cash for homeless charities in the area.
He added: “My day-to-day involves working in the shop or driving the vans, I’m not fussy what jobs are given to me as long as I’m working.
“In my spare time, I enjoy doing sponsored walks for other homeless charities.
“My recent walk through London raised almost £300 for Street Souls, not bad for a man in his sixties.
“I’d like the people who donate to Emmaus to know that I am grateful for being given a second chance at life.
“I have a lovely room, I am able to work and I can still lead an active social life – I love it here – my life is officially back on track.”