Homeless woman who escaped a forced wedding life is changed by a billionaire08/04/2019
A woman who escaped a forced marriage only to land her dream job and win a luxury pad is now set to marry the man of her dreams.
Kat Demarchelier Du Bois from Teesside has swapped a life filled with turmoil and despair for one filled with happiness and security, Manchester Evening News reports .
By the age of 24, Kat had escaped a forced wedding, lived on the streets, considered suicidal and spent years in refuges and hostels.
But throughout every distressing episode, she had held a burning desire to have a career in law.
She saw an advert in the MEN for an apprenticeship at Addleshaw Goddard law firm and applied.
Kat attended the interview in a borrowed white blouse and a £2.50 Primark skirt, while other contenders were dressed in power suits and dresses.
But the bosses at the law firm saw something in her and offered her the join the company.
Another dream came true for Kat when she won a £150,000 brand new luxury apartment at the £80 million Blackfriars development.
The competition was run by property developer Salboy which is part of Fred Done's empire.
The aim of the competition was to find a winner who was passionate about the community.
From 300 people who entered the competition, Kat broke down in happy tears when she received the call that she had been chosen as the winner.
She said: "When he called, it was in my mind that he wanted me to make a further presentation to them after getting to the last five.
"When he said 'you have won' it was literally my entire life changing in a split second. I will be moving in as soon as I can – with just a sleeping bag if need be."
Fred Done said: "We have a lot of interest from people in this competition. The entries were excellent and it was refreshing to see how especially young people wanted to help their community.
"Kat's story is incredible. She has bounced back from adversity. I am delighted to be a in a position to help her create a better life, not just for herself, but homeless people too."
Tomorrow Kat will add even more joy to her life when she marries her partner Zak Billingham.
The couple became engaged two years ago when Zak bought Kat a ring from a pawnbrokers.
Kat said: "When I got the call I felt like there should be a Hallelujah chorus in the background, I am so ecstatic.
"It is amazing timing as we are getting married on Monday at Manchester Registry Office. I have had so much bad luck in my life and then this happens. I can't believe it."
She was raised by grandmother because her parents, who have since died, could not cope.
She said: "My grandmother was from the travelling community and when I was just 16 they wanted me to marry a man who I had never met who was 13 years older than me.".
Although she excelled academically, she ran away aged 17 after she returned late from college.
She said: "At 17 I ran away from home. I was ten minutes late returning from college and had a row. I went into town and met friends, and realised I could never go home. That was the first night I slept rough in a park."
She was then placed in a bedsit by a charity, she said: "I had to try and cope and was still going to college. One day my tutor asked me where my homework was and I just broke down crying, and ran out of the class. I didn't have my work because I didn't have anything.
"The head of the college took my to Sainsbury's and bought me a duvet and some groceries. I spent two weeks in the bedsit over Christmas then went to the council. They put me in a bed and breakfast place but there were three people sharing one room and the other two were heroin addicts.
"I left the place and slept rough again over the Christmas of 2011. It was horrible. I just walked around the park, scared I was going to get battered, and stayed awake all night, and slept in the day when I felt safer. It was freezing.
"I had nothing to eat and got water from public toilets. I did that for six days."
Eventually she was moved by the council but was now suffering with depression.
Over the years she has attempted suicide on four occasions and has even lived in a halfway house with former prisoners.
Later she moved to a YMCA homeless shelter where she lived for nine months.
She said: "I got in with the wrong crowd and felt my life was going nowhere. I had six A levels and kept thinking I could do more with my life. I didn't want to die and I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer.
"It was around this time that I found out my mother had died. The YMCA place was needed by someone else and I knew I was going to be made homeless again."
She was then helped by children's charity Barnardos who placed her in a women's refuge where she lived for nine months.
She said: "My life was still in a downward spiral. The police, Barnardos and the council eventually said that it would be best if I moved to another city. I ended up in Manchester Women's Aid Refuge.
She added: "All the women there were victims of domestic violence and forced marriages. I was very lonely and knew no one."
Later Kat managed to secure a job as a mental health support worker a spare room to live in.
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