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Homeless man ‘on brink of death’ proposes to charity worker who ‘saved his life’

Michelle Thorpe, 54, director at the Homes for Heroes charity, had just returned to feed those in need after two recovering from a stroke when she found Joe

A homeless man who was ‘on brink of death’ proposed to the charity worker who helped ‘saved his life.’

Joe, 47, found himself going blind and was on the verge of death after days of starvation.

Michelle Thorpe, 54, director at the Homes for Heroes charity, had just returned to feed those in need after two were recovering from a stroke when she found Joe.

He was in a desperate state on the cold steps of St John’s Church in Waterloo.

Speaking to My London, Michelle said: “He was laying there quite lifeless and basically, he was almost dead. He hadn’t drank anything, he hadn’t eaten anything.

“His body was basically closing down on him.”

Michelle’s kind actions made the difference between life and death for Joe


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If it hadn’t been for Michelle’s kindness and humanity, the paramedics said he would have died on the steps of the towering stone building.

Michelle, also known as the Pearly Queen of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey, said: “I was feeding him water, trying to convince him to go to the hospital.”

In the feeble moments that followed, Joe made a helpless plea to the charity worker.

“He said if I marry him he’ll go in hospital because he had nothing to live for. If I married him he would,” Michelle, 54, said.

The charity worker said ‘yes’ and proceeded to fulfil what could have been Joe’s last request in the tense moments to keep him alive.

By using a clip from a Coke can as a makeshift wedding ring Joe was persuaded to go to hospital.

Jimmy and Michelle have been running the Homes for Heroes charity for 11 years


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Michelle said: “We got the ring off a Coke can and then he married me waiting for the ambulance to come.”

CEO of the charity, Jimmy Jukes MBE, 65, and other homeless Londoners gathered around and watched as Michelle convinced Joe to go to the hospital.

The Londoner said: “Jimmy was getting emotional because he could see what was going on with Joe.

“A lot of the lads [were there] at the time and they started clapping and cheering.

“The paramedics turned up just after he put the Coke ring on my finger.”

The impact of the kind actions shown towards the homeless Londoner who had lost all hope was the difference between life and death for Joe.

Michelle said: “They took him to hospital. We explained how he deteriorated and they said there wasn’t hope for him.

“We contacted the hospital later and he was in intensive care for a while.

“If it took me another hour to convince him we would have lost him for sure.

“He was in hospital for quite a long time actually and then when he came out, he came back down to us and he had turned his life around.”

Joe, 47, had given up drinking and drugs after years on the street and the timid Londoner’s face still lights up when he sees Michelle.

The pair have a strong relationship, and even though they are not officially married, they try and catch up when possible.

The charity worker said: “Since then he’s cleaned himself up and he’s off the drink and drugs.”

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