A gardener ran away from home and lived in woodland to escape his wife's controlling behaviour.

Malcolm Applegate, now 62, left his home and slept rough in the woods next to a community centre for the elderly, where he worked as a gardener.

He says he was left with no choice but to do a runner because his wife's behaviour got more and more unreasonable after he had his working hours increased.

Now, Malcolm has moved into Emmaus Greenwich, a shelter for the homeless which helps to rebuild lives, in south London.

Credit: SWNS

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.

Malcolm now lives at Emmaus Greenwich. Credit: SWNS

"Without a word to anyone, not even family, I packed up and left. I went missing from them for ten years."

Malcolm spent the next decade camping in woodland, while working still working as a gardener at the community centre, before finding out about Emmaus.

He said: "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."

He's also been able to make contact with his sister for the first time in 10 years, commenting: "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."

Credit: SWNS

Malcolm keeps himself busy doing a range of jobs and likes to raise money for local homeless charities in his spare time.

He said: "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."

Anyone just really, really happy for him?

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist at LADbible. Claire graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in journalism. She’s previously worked at Trinity Mirror. Since joining LADbible, Claire has worked on pieces for the UOKM8? mental health campaign, the Yemen crisis, life in the Calais Jungle as well as a profile of a man who is turning himself into a cyborg.

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