Britain’s most married man is planning his ninth wedding after meeting a Filipina 42 years his junior.
Ron Sheppard, aged 68, proposed to Cristel Marquez Lalec, 26, on New Year’s Eve last year after spending Christmas with her family in Pampanga. Miss Lalec lives with her mother and seven-month-old son Miggs.
She has now arrived in Britain for a month-long holiday with her fiancé.
The only obstacle holding up the marriage is that the great-grandfather is still wed to Weng Plantino, another Filipina, and is waiting for a divorce. Their relationship came to an end after he admitted sharing a bed with a 27-year-old masseuse during a solo trip to Manila.
The pensioner, who was 19 when he wed his first wife in 1966, believes that Miss Lalec is “the one” he has been seeking for so many years.
He said: “At first I didn’t know what came over me when I proposed. I thought it may have been my medication.
“But then I realised what had happened was that I had fallen deeply in love with this girl who had shown me so much care and humility when I was at my lowest ebb. Make no mistake about it, Cristel will be my forever wife. This one is real love. This is the last one – I promise.”
Mr Sheppard greeted his fiancee at Heathrow airport last week with flowers and Ferrero Roche chocolates before giving her a tour of Windsor Castle and taking her back to his apartment in Somerton, Somerset.
Miss Lalec said she was looking forward to a traditional Christmas Day with her fiancé before she returns to home in January to care for Miggs. She then hopes to return to the UK to get married, as soon as Mr Sheppard is officially a single man again.
Miss Lalec said she was looking forward to taking care of her fiancé, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and walks with a stick. 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.”
However, Ron’s fourth wife, Kathy Bass, has advised Miss Lalec to “run for the hills.” She said: “Every time he gets remarried I think ‘here we go again’. I don’t think he will ever change, I don’t think it’s possible.”
Having nine mother-in-laws, that’s bravery!
Mr Sheppard dismissed criticism of their relationship. He said: “Love conquers all, age is just a number. People say I must be brave to have taken this on. Marrying a girl over 40 years younger isn’t brave — having nine mother-in-laws, that’s bravery!”
The couple first met more than 10 years ago, when Mr Sheppard was married to Wan (wife number seven) and living in Thailand. The couple were both friends with Miss Lalec, who was then aged 15 or 16, and would often spend time together.
Mr Sheppard was just 19 when he married first wife Margaret in 1966, and the pair had two children before divorcing two years later.
He then met second wife Jeanette in a bingo hall and they wed in 1973, but it lasted only one year. He has since described the marriage as a “business transaction” that enabled them to receive a bigger house from the council.
Shortly after their divorce, Mr Sheppard met third wife Lesley and they married in 1976. They went on to have two children, but he left five years later following a string of arguments.
He then went on to meet 18-year-old blonde Kathy at Pontins holiday camp in Somerset, and the pair married in 1982. They had a daughter together and lasted four years, despite Mr Sheppard claiming it was a “rebound relationship” following his split from Lesley.
He then met his fifth wife, Sue, at another bingo hall. Despite admitting that he wasn’t “swept off his feet by her”, he moved in to her house and they married in 1986. They had two sons together but she threw him out when he was offered a job a long way from the family home.
He then went on to marry Usha in 1999, whom he met during a trip to Singapore. They lasted four years but split after Mr Sheppard cheated on her during a holiday alone to Thailand.
With divorce number six behind him, he met seventh wife Wan in Bangkok in 2003. However, after returning to the UK, the pair stayed together for just eight months before the bride announced she was returning to her native country.
It was then that Mr Sheppard started to chat with Weng online. He flew out to meet her in the Philippines, where he said they “instantly clicked”.