Woman who married homeless man she found going through her bins left heartbroken

A woman who saved a homeless man from the streets after she discovered him rifling through her bins has been left devastated by his death.

Joan Neininger married Ken Selway 40 years after she spotted him outside her house.

They were dubbed the real life Lady and the Tramp when they got hitched in 2017 after finding him him looking for food in Gloucester.

Ken, 92, died of pneumonia last week – three weeks after he was admitted to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

But despite being distraught at her loss, Joan says she is grateful for nearly three years of married bliss which followed their wedding at Cinderford Registry Office in the Forest of Dean in February 2017.

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"I miss him terribly," said grieving Joan.

"When we first met I never dreamed we would end up together in the way we did so in a way we did have our happy ending.

"I loved him. He was a lovely man and we just suited each other. I will miss the companionship and the laughter. He could be such good fun at times."

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When she first noticed a young Ken roaming around Gloucester, Joan presumed he was staying in a B&B and just had nowhere to go out in the day.

But then she saw him rummaging through the bins for food and realised he was homeless.

Ken refused to accept offers of help so with the blessing of her family Joan started leaving wrapped sandwiches for him to to find.

Although her husband Norman also tried to help Ken he struggled with the schizophrenia and for a time it did put a strain on their marriage.

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But the mum-of-three persuaded Ken to take medication for his mental health problems and eventually all three lived together happily in a cottage which which Joan described as "like a little paradise".

She says the men were like brothers until Norman died in 1983, leaving Ken and Joan in the cottage until he needed extra care and was moved to supported housing.

Joan went to live with her daughter but they pined for each other so during the 2016 leap year Joan proposed and they married on her 88th birthday, four days after Valentine's Day.

The Londoner, who was evacuated to Wales where he became a Bevin Boy, was on a mission to find relatives when he ended up sleeping in a derelict house near Joan's book shop in Gloucester.

Joan says their story, which made headlines around the world, should be a stark reminder to society not to dismiss people living on the streets and to provide more help for those with mental health problems.

"It's a terrible thing mental illness but the right medication can make all the difference," said Joan who campaigned for mental health charities, helped at homeless shelters and wrote a book about their elationship.

Ken's funeral will take place at 10am on Friday November 29 at Gloucester crematorium, followed by a gathering at the rugby club Saintbridge.

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