As the rest of Britain celebrates the most romantic day of the year, Lucy Manley will be counting down the hours until today is over. For it’s the first anniversary of the moment the husband she’d lavished with love, money and the chance to live in Britain repaid her by dumping her on Valentine’s Day.
And Egyptian barman Abdy Aly didn’t even let her down gently. He revealed he’d been having sex with another woman and announced Lucy had to go because “it was too stressful to juggle two women”.
Then she found out he’d also been sleeping with her neighbour. Now she realises the undying love pledged by Abdy, 28, seemed to run out right about the time he was granted leave to remain in the UK. Distraught Lucy, 32, who spent £10,000 on Abdy, said: “I loved Abdy so much but now I’m not sure if what we had was ever real.
Lucy Manley, who married Egyptian bar tender Abdy, in Egypt, in happier times. “I worked so hard to get him the papers to live in the UK because I wanted to grow old with him. I’d excitedly planned our future together. “But he repaid me by betraying me in the most awful way on what was supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.
“He didn’t even apologise when he told me he’d been cheating. "I was crying so hard I could hardly breathe but he simply moaned that he found it all too stressful.” Trainee teacher Lucy met Abdy in June 2009 while on holiday at the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh.
“He wasn’t my usual type,” Lucy admitted. “At first, I thought he was a bit rude. But there was something about him which attracted me. “He teased me quite a lot, but I liked it. We didn’t kiss but we exchanged email addresses when I left.” The pair emailed constantly for three months and in one message Abdy asked her to marry him. Lucy visited again in the October.
Lucy Manley, lavished Abdy with love and helped him come to live in the UK. “We talked about marriage early on,” Lucy said. “Abdy brought it up and I got swept along. I counted down the minutes until I had enough money to fly back to Egypt. When we shared our first kiss, it felt so special.
“He spent the rest of the holiday begging me to marry him and telling me we were destined to be together. “At first, I told him I couldn’t marry but I got caught up in the fairytale .” Lucy’s friends begged her to think carefully but she was determined to wed Abdy and did so on December 1, her next visit.
“It was nuts but I was convinced he was the one for me,” she said. She admitted being surprised the ceremony was at a register office and not a mosque. There was no romantic proposal, no ring and instead of a white gown Lucy wore a casual blue dress. She said: “Our wedding day wasn’t at all romantic.
There were problems with our paperwork, so we got there just as the office was closing.
Devastated: Lucy Manley says it was magical when the couple shared their first kiss. “All the lights were off but Abdy was determined we marry there and then. We had to sign the marriage certificate by the light of his brother’s phone. “When we got home to his parents’ house, it was a real anti-climax. I ended up going to bed early. It wasn’t how I imagined my wedding day.”
Lucy devoted the next two years to the fight to get Abdy permission to join her in Cardiff. His first application was turned down. Home Office officials told Lucy she’d have to prove she could support her husband.
She worked two jobs to raise £6,000 to show her finances were sound. Lucy saw Abdy 10 times in the two years – she flew out to him each time. Lucy said: “I was absolutely exhausted. I was working in a sales job by day and in a taxi office at night. “Some days, I’d be out from 8am until 2am the next day but I convinced myself it was worth it if Abdy and I could be together.
"With what little I had to spare, I flew to Egypt and we had a precious few weeks together.” In 2011, Abdy was finally allowed to come to the UK on a temporary basis after Lucy forked out £4,000 for fees and the services of a top solicitor. She recalled: “When I picked him up from the airport I felt nervous.
No romance: Lucy says her wedding day lacked romance “We’d only spent a few weeks together and now we were going to be a married couple. But when I saw him, all of my fears melted away and he wrapped me in a huge hug. We got home and were quite emotional.
“For the next two years, we were like any other couple. We enjoyed weekends away and meals out and we spoke about having children.” In October 2013, they received the news they’d waited almost four years to hear: Abdy had been given permanent leave to remain in the UK.
Lucy said: “I was ecstatic and felt so relieved. It had taken so much time and money. I had tears in my eyes but Abdy didn’t seem as excited. "Over the next few weeks, he became cold and distant. He started to stay out all night and refused to say where he was going.”
It all came to a head on Valentine’s Day last year after Lucy found texts from a woman called Helen Joyner on Abdy’s phone. He claimed she was just a pal, but finally admitted the truth – he’d met Helen, 49, from Bristol, when she was on holiday in Sharm and had seen her on and off ever since.
“I wasn’t expecting flowers,” Lucy said. “But I never expected he’d be so cruel as to say our marriage was over on Valentine’s Day. I was devastated.” A week later, she received a call from Helen, who told Lucy she’d rekindled her holiday fling as soon as Abdy was given permission to stay in the UK permanently.
Devastated: Lucy Manley couldn't believe how cruel her husband had been Lucy said: “We discovered there were times he’d dropped Helen off at the airport in Egypt and picked me straight up. It was sickening.” Abdy was literally taking Lucy back to the bed he’d shared with Helen.
And while Lucy was still reeling from finding out about Helen, heartless Abdy had another blow in store. She spotted his car outside the house next door. When she confronted him, he admitted sleeping with their neighbour Jen Allen, too.
That fling lasted weeks before Jen, 28, ended it. Both she and Helen gave statements admitting having sex with Abdy when Lucy applied for a divorce last July. It was granted on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour. Lucy is now trying to move on.
She said: “I’ll spend this Valentine’s Day on holiday with my best friend. “I still want my happy ending. I’d love to marry again and have the family I dreamed of with Abdy. "I’m happy to be single this Valentine’s Day. But it’s going to take time before I can trust a man again.”
Abdy claimed he’d only admitted the affairs to get a quick divorce and denied cheating on Lucy. But Helen said: “I met Abdy in Egypt around the same time as Lucy. He always said he didn’t want to be with her. He just wanted citizenship.”
Jen also admitted having sex with him, saying: “It makes me sound bad but it was only a couple of weeks.”