Ron Sheppard truly believed he had found his “forever wife” when he met Cristel Lalec after eight failed marriages.
The old man has refused to die lonely…
But the 69-year-old’s hopes of a lasting romance were dashed when she ran off with another man before he could tie the knot.
Things were bad enough for Britain’s most married man Ron after Filipino Cristel, 28, had been told by the Home Office she could no longer stay in the UK and would have to return home.
But he was left devastated when she packed her bags and fled. Ron believes she was seeing another man and has now alerted police and the Border Agency in case she is trying to stay here illegally.
He said: “I’m devastated by this, I did everything for that girl and she does a runner, I feel like such a mug.”
Ron revealed “cracks began to appear” in their relationship. She was still married in the Philippines, despite pledging to divorce.
Fighting back tears, he said: “We had no love life, nothing whatsoever because she insisted she was a committed Christian and did not believe in sex before marriage.
“I respected that and hoped at least she would become my carer but she just became more distant.
“She hated my Norman Wisdom impressions, she had no idea who he was. She’d just sit there with her earphones in taking selfies and I’d have to shout her name just to get her to look at me.”
Ron still applied for a carer’s visa for Cristel in the hope they could spend their lives together.
But he added: “I should have known when she lost her engagement ring things were not right.
“Then she started going out a lot and making new friends.
“Even after her visa was denied I thought there might be a chance but she just grew so cold and distant.
“Then, on Saturday, she told me she was going out. She looked at me for a long time and said she was flying home next week and wished me goodbye.
“I now know she was saying goodbye for ever, I checked her room after she left and realised she had taken all of her luggage.
“I can’t reach her at all and her she has blocked me on Facebook.
“A friend has told me she met another man since she has been here and is now with him. I am devastated beyond words.
“I loved that woman with all my heart. But I thought it was for the best I phoned the police and the Border Agency just in case she was trying to stay illegally.”
Ron met Cristel when he lived in Thailand with wife number seven and her friend Wan. The trio would socialise regularly.
He lost contact when that relationship collapsed.
But after his marriage to eighth wife Weng started to break down he struck up a friendship with Cristel in 2015.
Ron flew to the Philippines and spent that Christmas with call centre worker Cristel and her family in their rural home in Lubao, Pampanga.
He wasted no time and on New Year’s Eve asked the mum-of-one to marry him. She arrived last November and lived at his home in Somerton, Somerset.
In a Mirror interview after they met, Ron, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease amongst other ailments, said: “This one is real love. This is the last one. I promise.”
Cristel insisted she was not using the sickly pensioner just as a way to get to Britain.
She said: “I know what it looks like but I am not here for a passport. I am not here to take advantage of Ron.”
But despite his heartache, old romantic Ron insisted he has not given up on finding his “forever wife”.
He said: “Cristel won’t put me off looking for love. Wife number nine is still out there, I just have to find her.
“As far as I’m concerned I’m back on the market. I’m not going to say I haven’t already had women contacting me, I don’t know what it is about me, women just seem to flock to me.
“I’m batting them off. I think it could be my natural charm and charisma.
“I am great at impressions, I can do 54 different people like Norman Wisdom and Frank Spencer.
“Although I’ve got to be honest after all this time I sometimes think women could just be too much trouble.
“But I am determined to not die alone, I refuse to end up in a home and I will find someone who will loves me for who I am.”
Ron first got married in 1966, to Margaret. The couple had three children but divorced after two years.
Wife number two was Jeanette in 1973. The marriage lasted a year.
Ron wed Lesley in 1976 and they had two boys. He left her five years later and she died in 1996.
Then came Kathy in 1982. The couple, who had a daughter, worked at Pontins as bluecoats with Shane Richie.
Ron married Sue in 1986 and had two boys. She threw him out 11 years later.
Usha from Singapore was next to tie the knot with him in 1999, followed by Wan in 2003 and Weng a year later.
Ron has been married for 44 of the past 48 years, the longest lasting 13 years and the shortest just 10 months.
He said: “The Tories should get me to negotiate Brexit, after all how many people have had as many divorces as me?”
Cristel was not available for comment.