A British mum-of-nine who dumped her husband of 23 years for a young Gambian man she met online has converted to Islam so they can get married.
Heidi Hepworth, 45, now wears a hijab and prays to Allah every day as she prepares for her wedding with her taxi driver boyfriend, Mamadou Salieu Jallow, 31. Heidi said she proposed to her Gambian boyfriend and he accepted.
They are planning to have the wedding in a mosque in Gambia, a nation that is predominantly Muslim and which Heidi says is “a happier and more caring place than Britain”.
She plans to move there after they marry next year once her divorce is finalised.
Speaking on her relationship with Mamadou and their coming nuptials, she said:
No-one imagined this would last but we love each other and are making plans to marry. I’ve never been happier.
Speaking of the proposal, Heidi said:
I think it’s fine to take the initiative.
I have wasted enough time in my life in an unhappy marriage.
Heidi split with her husband of 23 years last year and began dating Mamadou. She even left her kids at home in Britain and went to Gambia to be with him. People figured it was a phase that would pass soon, but they were wrong.
At the time, Heidi’s husband Andy, 45, said: “It’s a mid-life crisis. She’s been brainwashed.”
Andy also criticised Heidi for leaving her kids, saying:
A caring mum wouldn’t go off gallivanting around Africa with her new boyfriend.
But Heidi defended her actions, telling The Sun last year:
I don’t have a single regret. I’m not a terrible parent.
It was really hard for me to leave my kids, but they couldn’t come with me so I had no choice.
I was shocked at the anger that was directed at me for supposedly abandoning my children. That just didn’t happen.
Heidi has two sons and a daughter aged 25 to 30 from a previous relationship. She and Andy have three daughters aged 7, 10, and 24 and three sons aged 12, 18 and 19. Heidi revealed that when she left, her eldest daughter moved into her house to stay with the three youngest children so that their life wasn’t disrupted greatly.