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.

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Mr Emmaus Greenwich. Facebook/Photo

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.”