22 January 2013 A WOMAN has told how she was robbed of her life savings by a Turkish waiter she fell in love with.
Pat Ekins sold a house and plunged £70,000 into running a bar owned by the man she met while on holiday in the resort of Marmaris.
But almost as soon as she handed over the cash – gained by selling the property behind her children’s backs – the man disappeared.
Pat was 46 when she met the 28-year-old waiter and would fly from her then home in Middlesbrough to Turkey every couple of months.
However, things rapidly turned sour after she handed over the money, gained by incurring the wrath of daughters Claire and Karen for selling the property in Preston, Lancashire.
The 50-year-old said: “I sold the house without telling them and took all the money, £70,000, to fund this bar in Turkey.
“It was the house I had shared with my ex-husband, the father of my youngest daughter. We had agreed that if and when I sold it, the money would be split three ways.
“He told me we would make the money back and more within a year, so I thought I would be able to go back to my daughters and give them their share, with some extra. But it didn’t happen like that.
“I went to Turkey and transferred all the money into his account.
“He left the apartment, saying he was going to sign the papers, but he didn’t come back. The next day he still wasn’t there and I knew what had happened.
“It was horrible. I thought we were happy. I was happy. I hit rock bottom.”
Pat, a grandmother-of-three, founder herself sleeping on the floor of a barber’s shop in Turkey after being evicted from her flat until a friend paid for her to come home.
However, on her return she found her family did not want anything to do with her because of what she had done.
She added: “Claire swore at me and told me to keep away from them. My mum, sisters and brother said they didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.
“I had broken my daughters’ hearts and was now the black sheep of the family.
“That night I had nowhere to go. I just kept walking around the park. It was unbelievable. I was frightened to go to sleep but I eventually did – on a park bench.
“After losing everything I spent a week sleeping on a park bench, rummaging through the bins for food.
“It was a proper reality check. I thought, what I am doing here after everything I had going for me? All for a man.”
Pat left John, the father of 27-year-old Karen, after 11 years and moved from Preston to Middlesbrough after her life spiralled out of control.
She admitted: “I started drinking and went off the rails. I was working in a pub and would leave Claire, who was 13, to look after Karen while I stayed on at the pub and drank.
“Claire fell pregnant quite young and left home, so I had to get back on my feet for Karen.
“Thinking about it now I was being selfish, but I didn’t think that at the time. I would buy them presents because I felt guilty and at one point had three jobs.
“But I struggled to pay rent and we would keep moving house, disappearing in the middle of the night.
“I was using cannabis and speed and gambling and mixing with the wrong people. All this time Karen was growing up and becoming aware of what was going on.”
After finding herself an outcast, Pat linked up with the charity Emmaus after being told about them by an old friend three years ago.
She worked in their shop in return for a bed to sleep in and a £35-a-week allowance.
And she says that helped turned her life around. Now she is living in Colchester, Essex.
She said: “I have lived and worked with Emmaus in Hastings, visited Paris with them for a big fair to raise money for Africa, and I came to Colchester in November last year.
“I like a big family. There is security, work. We have our ups and downs but it is all aired and we get on with it.
“I still keep in touch with Karen and she sent me pictures of the grandchildren but I have no intention of going back to Preston. They know where I am.
“My mum isn’t well but I don’t think I will go to her funeral when the time comes. I can pay my respects here. They were not there for me when I was on the streets.
“Now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I have my self esteem back and my life. Emmaus is a reason for me to get out of bed in the morning.