As Paul Catchpole said goodbye to his wife of 43 years for a work stint in Cameroon she thought the absence would make his heart grow fonder. But the 66-year-old great-grandad quickly forget about his life back home after falling for local Angele, a woman 36 years his junior.
The now retired logistics manager met the unemployed 30-year-old in 2007 and says he was shocked when a young, beautiful woman was interested in him.
Paul began an affair and, after returning to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, divorced his heartbroken wife and left behind his distraught family — including his two grown-up kids — and then headed back to Central Africa to marry his new, younger mistress. But it has not been the happy ending he hoped for.
After fathering two more children with his new wife — John Paul, now two, and Blessing, six months — Paul ploughed his life savings and inheritance into their long-distance relationship in a desperate bid to get Angele and their kids to the UK. His attempts have been in vain after British authorities refused his new wife permanent residency in the UK.
Paul has spent his £100,000 life savings and racked up £50,000 worth of debt since remarrying.
Devastated … Paul has sunk thousands into supporting wife who is stuck in Cameroon Rob Howarth
The money has gone on air tickets, hotel and hospital fees, renting property, utilities, food, car and running costs, schooling, (kids start at two in Cameroon), property building costs and fees.
He has also forked out £40,000 for Angele to renovate properties in Cameroon after she said she would like to do it as a job. But the lovestruck pensioner — also dad to Matthew, 46, and Paula, 43, and who has three grandkids and one great grandchild in the UK — claims it’s all worth it.
He says: “I gave up my wife and lost my family, my home and my life savings for Angele. “I’ve taken out bank loans and numerous credit cards to pay for her and the kids to live in Cameroon while I try to get her over here — but it is totally worth it.
“I’ve never been happier and the only thing stopping us from being truly happy is the distance.
“I don’t care how much it costs I won’t stop until Angele and the kids are here with me.”
The unlikely couple met when Paul temporarily moved to Cameroon to work in Angele’s hometown of Douala. He says: “I didn’t go looking for love, it just happened. I couldn’t believe it when Angele showed me she was interested in me.
“I am 36 years older than her so never thought she would be attracted to me. “At first we just chatted innocently but, after a few weeks, we started going for drinks on dates. “Angele knew I was married but we were just completely caught up in the moment.”
When Paul flew back to his family in the UK, it wasn’t a happy reunion. Paul came clean about the affair and his wife filed for divorce in 2008. Paul handed over the four-bedroom £500,000 home he owned as part of the divorce settlement and, as soon as the papers were signed, returned to Cameroon to continue his romance.
In May 2011, he and Angele married in Douala in front of her family. He says: “None of my family came but I hardly expected them to, they didn’t approve.”
He says: “The affair hurt my family and I feel guilty for that. But I was so in love with Angele I wanted to make a go of things.
“Both my children in the UK, Matthew and Paula and the extended family, turned their backs on me and didn’t approve of my new relationship. I’d had a good relationship with my children until then. Happy days … Paul and Angele after their wedding in 2011 Rob Howarth
“But they didn’t like Angele and my daughter couldn’t get to grips with it as my new wife was much younger than her. “Losing them was heartbreaking but I had no choice.”
Paul returned home without his new wife — but with the plan of bringing her to England. In the four years since they married they have spent much of it apart. He usually stays in the UK for three months, then goes to Cameroon for one month.
Paul says: “I really love Angele and we are happy but I never intended to move to Cameroon.
“It’s a very poor place and not the kind of country I’d ever want to permanently live in. The plan was always for Angele to move to England to be with me.”
But in November 2012 Angele gave birth to Paul Junior. He says: “I felt a bit old to become a dad but we were over the moon at the idea of starting a family.”
Paul then rented a two bedroom flat for Angele and their baby in Douala while he got to work applying for her UK visas.
He says: “I was paying for her to live, for nursery for our son and for healthcare for them both.
“It all started becoming very pricey so I ended up having to take out bank loans amounting to £30,000. Even my credit cards were maxed out and I racked up £20,000 worth of debt.
“The money had been earmarked for the future, to live on after retirement and for my children to inherit.”
Angele then gave birth to their second child Blessing in January this year.
Paul says: “I didn’t want Angele to give birth in Cameroon because the healthcare is so bad but she had her UK tourist visa rejected because the authorities didn’t believe it was a temporary visit.
“I managed to get her a tourist visa for France so she could give birth in Paris.
“I had to put her up in an 80 euro a night hotel for three months. As soon as our daughter was born we went back to Africa.
“It was horrible to be torn away from my kids but we had no option.”
Parisian authorities have since refused Angele a permanent visa and she has been denied UK residency because she can’t speak fluent English.
Family … Paul shows pictures of the two young children he has had with his African wife Rob Howarth
Paul says: “If only she could speak fluent English, she’d be in with a chance of coming over here. She says she doesn’t have time to learn.”
Paul has refused to give up on bringing his family to the UK and in May splashed out another £500 applying for a family visa to get Angele and the children to Norfolk.
He says: “On top of the application fee, I also had to give my wife £5,000 to put in her bank account so the authorities would see she was financially stable.”
His application was turned down for a second time. He says: “It’s ludicrous. I can look after her and the kids so it’s devastating she’s been rejected.
“I left my wife of more than 40 years and ruined my relationship with my older children so I could be with Angele.
“We’ve gone on to have two kids and I’ve spent more than £150,000 on her, yet still we can’t be together.
“When we first got together I thought people would look at us and laugh but after what we’ve been through I know our love is real.
“I’d do anything to get my family over here. I won’t stop until I have tried everything.
“For now I have to deal with only seeing her and my kids every now and again.
“There have been bombings in Cameroon recently and I worry if I don’t get them over here soon, their lives will be at risk.
It’s heartbreaking but I believe one day I’ll have them all here with me.”
What Paul has spent
Car for Angele – £12,000
Her monthly rent for four years – £11,000
Utilities – £10,000
Food, clothing, prams, nappies – £20,000
Air tickets – £13,000
Hotels – £20,000
Hospitals in Paris and Cameroon – £6,000
Visa applications – £8,000
Property building costs – £40,000
Schooling and living costs – £11,000
TOTAL – £151,000