Victoria Oak claims she was unhappy for several years in their marriage but kept it to herself – until she started writing to a convicted drug smuggler in a Thai prison who changed her life …
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A former housewife and mother of four has found an unusual new roommate in the form of a convicted drug smuggler who spent 14 years in a Thai prison.
Victoria Oak, 62, began writing to “soul mate” Andy Hawke, 63, after her daughter Sam met him while traveling at Bang Kwang Prison in Thailand.
Sam, now 35, started writing letters to Andy after meeting him and encouraged her mother to do the same from her home in Putney, southwest London.
Victoria opened up to a new friend and started writing letters to Andy – but she had no idea where this was going.
After 28 years of marriage, Victoria felt “trapped” but kept her feelings to herself. However, when she wrote Andy, she began to share her thoughts with him. For seven years, the couple exchanged letters in which Victoria could express her feelings.
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Victoria said, “Since I was 40, my husband and I began to grow apart. I think I just felt very alone. It was a tough time.
“Andy’s letters gave me comfort from the hardship I was going through.
“It’s so rare for things to get mailed and it was amazing to get a handwritten letter in the airmail. It became a real friendship and we talked about everything.”
Although Andy never gave her instructions on what to do with their marriage, she said it was helpful to be honest about how she felt with someone and described her friendship with him as “escapism.”
Andy was jailed in Thailand in 1999 after smuggling drugs into the country and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
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Victoria said, “He was struggling so hard, his partner had died and he just fell into a deep depression.
“I think he was being exploited in many ways. He was asked to bring heroin across the Thai border into Copenhagen. I think he was in such a dark place that he would have said yes to anything. He just didn’t want to.” keep it up.”
Andy’s story touched Victoria so much that in May 2012, six years after she first wrote to Andy, she completed the Camino de Santiago to Santiago Cathedral, Spain, praying for his early release.
Two weeks after the pilgrimage, Andy was finally pardoned and Sam called her mother to tell her the good news.
“I was overjoyed. I couldn’t believe that he was finally free and that my prayers were answered,” Victoria recalled.
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“I felt I was on the right track and after completing the hike, I found the courage to ask my husband for a divorce.”
When Andy was finally released in March 2013 after 14 years in prison, Victoria invited Andy to stay with her in Putney while he got on his feet. He stayed for 18 months before moving to Wales.
“It has been a tough adjustment for him to be back in the UK from Thai prison,” she said.
Together, the two decided to tell their story in Victoria’s book Sentenced.
She said, “We stayed up to write and read the chapters together. The more we learned about each other’s lives before making judgments, the more we bonded.
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“But after 18 months I think we’ve had enough of each other.”
The couple decided to split up and Andy moved to Wales, but they still stay close and share an unbreakable bond.
“He really is one of my best friends. I really love him, “said Victoria.
“We stayed so close. I think our lives are intertwined and we will always have a connection after writing these letters in the darkest times of our lives.”
The couple still write and speak at least once a week and have great respect for each other.
About the woman who changed his life, Andy said, “What middle-aged and middle-class woman would write to an old con man in a Southeast Asian prison for seven years and then, upon his release, take her home with him until he comes back up.” the legs was?
“It wasn’t until I met this extraordinary ‘Putney Housewife’ that I realized how much she means to me.”
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After a long five year editing process, Victoria, now a full-time writer, has published Sentenced and wants others to take solace from his message.
“I just hope that other people who are trapped in their lives will find comfort in the book and realize that we don’t need to hold on to the life we have been given,” she said.
You can find more information about Victoria’s book here
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