Man leaves in the wood for ten years to escape relationship
Malcom Applegate took extreme action to leave his wife, who he says started showing controlling behaviour towards him.
Applegate left home without telling a soul, and slept rough in the woods next to a community centre for the elderly, where he’d been working as a gardener.
He did this for ten years, before moving into Emmaus Freenwich, a homeless shelter in south London.
He has now made contact with his sister for the first time in a decade, and says she thought he was dead.
“Before becoming a companion at Emmaus Greenwich, I was a gardener in Farnborough for 25 happy years,” he said.
“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 for 10 years.
I camped in thick woodland near Kingston, and made that home for five years while maintaining the gardens at a local community centre for the elderly.
I enjoyed my life, but when I heard about Emmaus through a fellow ‘runaway’, I knew that would suit me better.
I went to Emmaus Greenwich for an interview and moved in almost immediately.”
Now, Applegate spends his time doing odd jobs and raising money for charity.
“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 ($394) 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.”