SERIAL BRIDE JULIE, 55, KISSED TENS OF FROGS… AND MARRIED FIVE OF THEM.
SHE EVEN WED THE SAME MAN THREE TIMES.
serial bride to sex worker
AFTER FIVE WEDDINGS – AND FIVE CHARITY SHOP WEDDING DRESSES – JULIE’S CONFIDENCE WAS AT AN ALL-TIME LOW.
THE MUM-OF-FIVE GAVE UP HER SEARCH FOR HER PRINCE CHARMING, GOT A JOB AS A SEX CHAT WORKER AND NEVER FELT HAPPIER.
BUT IT SEEMS OLD HABITS DIE HARD AND JULIE IS NOW PREPARING FOR WEDDING NUMBER SIX, TO A BRAND NEW MAN, IN HER FIRST EVER BRAND NEW DRESS.
As the dress slipped over my head, I felt the soft satin against my skin and the weight of the skirt on my hips.
Instantly, it felt different to what I was used to. It was brand new, for a start.
As the bridal shop assistant fastened the last button, I dared to look up into the floor-length mirror.
I couldn’t help the smile that crept across my face.
‘So this is what it feels like’, I thought.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to being a bride. I’ve been hitched five times already.
I made sure I wore a different dress to each wedding, of course. But they were all from local charity shops – my first dress was only a fiver and the most I spent on one was £20.
So when the assistant said the gorgeous gown I was standing in cost £1,200 I nearly fainted off the pedestal.
But for the first time ever, I feel like I’m worth it!
My first wedding to Leonard Maund was back in 1973 when I was just 17. He was older than me and we’d never even been properly introduced.
My dad gave him £500 to marry me – which was a lot of money back then – and I just went along with it.
He didn’t buy me a ring or get down on one knee, so I suppose I should have known that his heart wasn’t really in it.
But I’d had a rough start in life, and this seemed like a good chance to start afresh.
For a while, Leonard was loving and affectionate – he was even a bit clingy.
But pretty soon he started to get really controlling. He didn’t like me leaving the house and got extremely jealous at the slightest thing.
One night we had a really bad row and started hurling insults at me.
‘I wish I’d never married you’, he screamed.
I didn’t need telling twice.
After five years of fighting, we divorced.
People would say to me: ‘Don’t rush into marriage again, you have your whole life ahead of you.’
But while my friends were looking for fun, I was looking for husband number two.
When I met Derrick Portman in 1981, we hit it off straight away.
He was a big, burly man with an even bigger ego.
I was besotted.
One night, after a few whiskies, he slurred ‘let’s get married’.
‘Yes!’, I squealed, trying to ignore the smell of his boozy breath.
I was so thrilled I didn’t even think to ask why he too hadn’t bothered to buy me a ring or get down on one knee.
The next day, the wedding plans were in full swing.
And back I went to the local charity shop. I found a nearly new dress for a tenner. I was chuffed to bits.
After the wedding, Derrick’s true colours began to show.
He liked a drink, but I didn’t think it was anything to worry about.
But after a few, he’d turn into a monster.
He’d punch and kick me – and I’d curl into a ball until it was over.
I was brought up to believe that marriage was for life, and after already having one divorce, I didn’t want to give up on Derrick.
I already had my eldest son Jason from a previous relationship, but in 1984 I got pregnant with Dean, now 28. Over the next eight years, I had three more children: Lena, now 27, Penny, 25, and my youngest, Shane, now 20.
I loved being a mum, but Derrick’s unpredictable temper was getting too much for me to handle.
I had three miscarriages one after the other and was heartbroken.
I’d had enough. In the early hours of one morning in 1995 I got the kids dressed and packed all our things in to the car.
I just kept driving. All I knew was that I had to get away.
We ended up in the Isle of Wight.
I found us a home and vowed to stay single.
But after six weeks, I got introduced to Benny Cooper.
Immediately, we had a connection.
Our personalities were so similar, and the kids loved him.
One night he came over for a coffee – and we ended up on the karaoke.
He was so much fun to be around. We sang and talked and laughed all night. Eventually, it was time for bed.
‘Shall I take the sofa?’, he asked politely.
‘You’re too big for the sofa! You can have my bed if you want’, I joked.
‘Only if you’re in it’, he said, making me blush.
And that was it – I was infatuated.
We spent every day for the next six weeks together. He was The One. I just knew it.
He didn’t ever propose, but somehow we agreed to get married.
I needed a new dress – so off I went to the charity shop again. This time I splashed out twenty quid on a big taffeta gown.
Two weeks later I was Mrs Cooper.
I’d even bought some new underwear for our wedding night – I was so excited.
But before Benny got to see it, he got in an argument with some strangers for being drunk and rowdy in the street.
He spent our wedding night in a police cell, and once again I was left with that familiar feeling that something wasn’t right.
Two years passed, and Benny was spending more time in trouble than with me – and I filed for divorce.
I got on with my life. I had a few boyfriends but I focussed on bringing up my kids and being a good mum.
Eight years later, Benny came crawling back with his puppy dog eyes.
And guess what? I agreed to marry him again.
My friends thought I was crazy.
But I was still in love.
All I needed was another trip to the charity shop.
Benny tried hard to be a good husband – but he couldn’t put his wayward ways behind him.
The old arguments began to resurface.
He was very jealous of other men, and although he was allowed to stay out all night and do what he liked, he hated it if I did the same.
My fourth divorce was just around the corner. I could feel it.
I told him I wanted to stay friends but I couldn’t be his wife any more.
I thought that was it.
But no sooner had I picked up my fourth decree nisi, had he asked me to marry him AGAIN.
It was 2007 and he seemed more mature.
This time he even bought some rings- so I thought he must be ready to really change.
I’d had boyfriends who had beaten me up in the past – but Benny was so different.
He offered me protection.
I think that’s what made me keep going back to him.
By this point, my friends were lost for words. They started calling me Elizabeth Taylor.
They couldn’t believe I was marrying the same man a third time in my fifth wedding.
But I’d always been a wildchild. I jumped into things without thinking. That’s just how I was.
I had become something of a regular in the charity shops, and pretty quickly I was back for dress number five.
All our family and friends showed up as usual, but it was fairly low key.
I’d learned not to expect things to run smoothly, but it was a brilliant day.
The marriage? Not so brilliant.
‘This is your last chance’, I warned him on our wedding night.
‘Mess this up and that’s it. I’m not marrying you again.’
He replied: ‘I love you. I want to make you happy, once and for all.’
Maybe he did. But I never found that happiness.
A few months later, I told him I wanted my fifth and final divorce.
He agreed that it was for the best.
We promised we would stay friends – and we have.
But I’d finally realised that he wasn’t the man for me.
Newly single and in need of work, I logged on to the computer one night.
I saw an ad on the internet for a phone operator.
I applied immediately… and I got the job.
I’ve been a sex chat operator ever since.
It’s my perfect job. I love talking and I always speak my mind.
After years of men letting me down, it’s finally given me back my confidence.
They ring me up because they’re desperate to be turned on…
It makes me feel like, for the first time ever, I’m the one who holds the power.
The money’s great and I’ve been able to treat myself to luxury holidays and treats for the kids.
I’d written off relationships and, for once, I put myself first.
Then along came Paul Burcher, 61. I’d known him from years but he’d been married too and we lost touch.
He was nothing like any of my other boyfriends.
He was romantic and old-fashioned. We started dating in May this year.
More than anything, we were great friends. And I’ve come to realise that that’s the most important thing in a marriage.
When he showed me an engagement ring he’d bought I couldn’t believe my eyes.
In five marriages, I’d never once had an engagement ring!
I just remember seeing this massive diamond. It must have cost thousands.
Naturally, I said yes.
We went away for the weekend to celebrate.
I’m not materialistic but I’d never felt so good in my life.
Even now, when I look at my finger I still can’t believe that this beautiful sparkling ring was bought for me.
I didn’t jump in quite so quickly as before, but Paul is a good man and will be a wonderful husband.
He doesn’t even mind that I talk dirty for a living.
He knows who I am and what I’ve been through… and he still loves me.
That’s a pretty amazing feeling.
We’re planning to get married next year.
When Paul said I can treat myself to a brand new designer wedding dress, I was gobsmacked.
I can’t wait to be his wife, but I also can’t wait to wear a gown that cost more than a fiver at the charity shop!
WHEN LISA, 39, SUFFERED TWO MISCARRIAGES IN JUST A FEW MONTHS, SHE WAS DISTRAUGHT SO DECIDED TO SEEK COUNSELLING TO HELP HER COPE WITH THE ORDEAL.
IT WAS THEN SHE STARTED SPEAKING TO CHRISTINE, 47, WHO ADVERTISED HER SERVICES ON FACEBOOK. SHE LOOKED LIKE THE REAL DEAL BUT LITTLE DID LISA KNOW, COLD-HEARTED CHRISTINE WAS A CON WOMAN POSING AS A COUNSELLOR.
CHRISTINE FLEECED VULNERABLE LISA OUT OF £185 FOR NINE SESSIONS, IN WHICH LISA REVEALED HER INNER MOST THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.
BUT LISA SOON REALISED CHRISTINE WASN’T ALL SHE HAD MADE OUT TO BE AND REPORTED HER TO POLICE.
Sat in my lounge with a cup of tea, I poured my heart out and an overwhelming sense of relief washed over me.
At first I didn’t know where to turn for help, as my whole world came crumbling down around me, and I hadn’t confided in anyone or let on just how low I was.
After enduring the agony of two miscarriages in just a few months, I was feeling worse than ever and I knew I needed to seek professional help and advice.
Rambling on and revealing my inner most thoughts and feelings to a virtual stranger seemed to be helping – or at least that’s what I thought.
My ‘counsellor’ Christine Stevens, 47, was a mutual friend and we had connected through Facebook.
My relationship status had changed to single, after splitting with my partner, Tony, through the strain of losing two longed for babies and when Christine spotted we had broken up she posted a comment to check if I was ok.
‘I don’t mean to pry, but I’ve seen what you’ve been going through and I hope you’re alright,’ it read.
We hadn’t really spoken before but when I saw her kind words they cheered me up.
I noticed that she was a counsellor. Her profile had her occupation listed as Head of Therapeutic Services at Cheshire East Council, so immediately I felt at ease.
I knew I needed to talk to someone and she looked like the right person.
We exchanged messages through Facebook and arranged to meet.
Christine was more than happy to provide me with counselling sessions and even said she would charge me a discounted rate of £20 as she knew how difficult the past few years had been for me.
‘I do see people in the office but I can come to your house as well,’ she told me. ‘You’ll probably feel more comfortable discussing everything at home.’
Turning up on the doorstep in smart office wear and with a lanyard and identity badge around her neck, she looked like the real deal.
She pulled out paperwork for me to fill in my personal details, so all seemed to be above board.
When I first confided in her I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
I told her all about my previous marriage and the bitter divorce I had been through.
She knew how I had been left to bring up our young son, now five, on my own and had to sell my house.
I opened up about my dad Ken’s battle with cancer and sudden death in 2009 and how my mum, Hilary, and I had cared for him in his last few months.
She knew just how badly watching him take his last breath had affected me.
A few days after his funeral, my mum’s back was giving her grief. In agony and unable to move, she saw a specialist doctor and was told she needed an emergency operation or she would be paralysed.
She underwent surgery straight away and I was left to care for her for months until she recovered.
There just seemed to be blow after blow of terrible things happen and Christine knew everything.
I asked for receipts of payment and Christine provided them by email with invoices baring the authority’s logo and the initials of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – implying she was an accredited member of the body.
We arranged to meet on a weekly basis and I felt so lucky that Christine was able to squeeze me into her busy schedule whenever I needed a chat.
But quickly things seemed to take a turn.
During the appointments I started to notice that Christine was focusing on my relationship issues with Tony and she started dishing out some advice.
‘Surely she shouldn’t be telling me what to do or talking about other cases,’ I thought to myself as Christine referred to other clients she claimed to have been counselling.
But that was only the start of things to come…
Christine’s conduct quickly became even more questionable.
‘Do you mind meeting in Costa?’ she asked one week.
I was hesitant at first but she was doing me a favour giving me all the sessions at such short notice and she said she was seeing other people in the area so it would be more convenient.
Tucked into a corner of the coffee shop I felt worried about engaging in a private conversation in such a public place.
Then she asked if I wanted to go to the pantomime as I needed cheering up.
I was taken aback by her strange suggestion but assumed she was just trying to be friendly and help so gave her £30 in cash for three tickets for my mum, son and me.
When I couldn’t make a session the next week she started saying she wasn’t sure she could come to the theatre anymore.
It made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, almost as though I was being blackmailed.
In the end I got fed up and asked for the money for the tickets back and she started to kick up a fuss.
I had forked out £185 for nine counselling sessions, when alarm bells started ringing.
Eventually I plucked up the courage to tell a close friend what had been going on.
She immediately thought all was not right and told me to lodge a complaint with Christine’s employers.
But when I tried to contact the local council the full nature of the nightmare began to unfold…
Unhappy about Christine’s inappropriate behaviour I requested she give me the land line number and name of her manager.
But when she said she didn’t have an office number, I became suspicious and took matters into my own hands.
Realising I was on to her, Christine started to send me nasty text messages.
I called the council and asked for Christine and her department and neither seemed to exist.
It took me some time to get my head around what was happening, but I began to approach all of the organisations Christine claimed to have links with.
They all came back saying they had never heard of her.
Armed with written responses from all the bodies, as well as forged receipts and council documents from Christine for my ‘counselling’ sessions, I went to the police.
I showed them print outs of her Facebook pages too.
The cold-hearted con woman had duped me when I was at my most vulnerable.
She had a history of dishonesty but her callous deception was soon uncovered this time.
She told police she was unemployed but classed herself as a private counsellor.
She admitted having no links to the council or being a member of the BACP and pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation at South Cheshire Magistrates Court.
Christine was ordered to repay the cash and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
She was also made the subject of a 12-month supervision order and told to pay £85 costs plus a £65 victim surcharge.
What she has put me through affected me deeply and caused me major anguish, distress and upset.
I feel as if I am always looking over my shoulder and I don’t know who I can trust any more.
I was looking for help and believed I could pay for a service and receive one, but Christine has shattered my confidence and left me in a worse place than I was in beforehand.
She left me feeling as if my soul had been burgled.
I was under the impression she worked for the council so assumed she would have had the relevant experience, qualifications and checks done on her.
Now I’m speaking to a fully qualified counsellor and I’ve had hypnotherapy which means I’m in a much better place.
I just hope other people aren’t duped like I was.
I would urge anyone seeking counselling to check credentials thoroughly.
MY WIFE DIED AFTER DOCTORS SAID SHE WAS TOO YOUNG FOR A SMEAR TEST
PRETTY NEWLYWED, BECKY, 26, DIED OF CERVICAL CANCER AFTER BEING REFUSED A SMEAR TEST BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO YOUNG, HER DEVASTATED HUSBAND, PAUL, 35, CLAIMS.
SHE FIRST VISITED HER DOCTOR WHEN SHE WAS 24 BUT HER REQUESTS FOR A SIMPLE CANCER TEST WERE TURNED DOWN BECAUSE SHE WAS UNDER THE RECOMMENDED AGE OF 25.
INSTEAD SHE WAS DIAGNOSED AND TREATED FOR A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COMPLAINT. IT TOOK 15 MONTHS OF REPEAT VISITS TO HER GP BEFORE SHE EVENTUALLY WENT TO SEE ANOTHER DOCTOR WHO FINALLY DETECTED THE DEADLY DISEASE.
BUT DESPITE MONTHS OF INTENSIVE RADIOTHERAPY AND CHEMOTHERAPY SESSIONS, AND RECEIVING THE ALL-CLEAR, THE CANCER SPREAD AND BECKY PASSED AWAY ON FEBRUARY 14TH THIS YEAR.
NOW HER BEREAVED HUSBAND IS CAMPAIGNING TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CERVICAL CANCER AND ENCOURAGE SMEAR TESTS TO BE CARRIED OUT ON WOMEN UNDER 25.
wife, too young for smear test, dies
– Becky first went to her doctor at the end of 2010 with unexplained bleeding.
– But despite requesting a smear test she was refused because at the age of 24 she was too young.
– Government legislation was changed in 2003 meaning regular smear tests are only given to women aged 25 and over.
– Before that all women over 20 were given the tests and they still are in Wales.
– Instead Becky was diagnosed with a completely different complaint.
– She was told she had erosion of the cervix and was given treatment which briefly stopped the bleeding.
– But when it returned she went back to see her doctor again.
– It took 15 months of repeat visits to her GP before she eventually went to see another doctor who finally diagnosed her with cervical cancer, which was confirmed following a biopsy in March 2011.
– She was immediately given radiotherapy and chemotherapy and an internal brachytherapy treatment – a more targeted form of radiotherapy.
– The couple also went through fertility treatment, where Becky’s eggs were frozen, so that they could still try for a family when treatment was over.
– Becky was given the all-clear in September 2011 after scans showed there was no sign of the cancer.
– Only months later, in January, Becky’s legs started to swell up and, after returning to the doctors, scans showed that the cancer had returned.
– Becky and Paul, who would have been together for ten years in June, and were due to celebrate their third wedding anniversary this year, tried to remain positive.
– But Becky was admitted to a hospice just before Christmas for blood transfusions.
– Despite months of intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions and, receiving the all-clear, the cancer eventually spread and Becky died on February 14th – Valentine’s Day – this year.
– Paul is now taking up Becky’s campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer so that other young women do not die of the disease.
– Paul said: ‘Becky’s attitude to all that happened was pretty amazing.
– ‘We still thought she could fight but even more chemotherapy couldn’t get rid of it.
– ‘She was still trying to be positive and still thinking she was going to be ok.
– ‘Becky wanted a smear test done and requested it but because she was under 25 at the time they said it would just get returned and they would not do it.
– ‘She was treated for cervical erosion and then it was just left.
– ‘The bleeding did stop. But it came back again and that is when they looked into it a bit further. She saw a different doctor then and they raised a few more concerns.
– ‘Even when they said ‘sorry, it’s terminal’ Becky was still trying to be positive and still thinking she was going to be ok.
– ‘Becky wanted other people to know about her plight. It is vitally important that people know what to look out for and what to ask.’