A fine Sufolk romance

THREE years ago, Lenuta left her home in a small impoverished Romanian village to travel to East Anglia with her new British husband Paul Clark.It was the chance of a lifetime for Lenuta, who had never left her home nation before.

THREE years ago, Lenuta left her home in a small impoverished Romanian village to travel to East Anglia with her new British husband Paul Clark.

It was the chance of a lifetime for Lenuta, who had never left her home nation before. The trip was the first time she had ever seen either boats or the sea, travelled on an aeroplane, enjoyed a hot bath or lazed in the comfort of central heating. Before long, she even developed a taste for fish and chips.

And today, the couple's 17-month-old son Joshua is enjoying the same delights for the first time during a stay with his great-grandparents Keith and Pearl Bacon, at their Cornard Road home in Sudbury.

The couple's story first hit the headlines three years ago, when the EADT told the story of how Paul, 27, who was brought up in Suffolk, fell in love with Lenuta, 23, when taking part in charity mission in Romania.

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He was working for the Romania Care charity, which helps supply medicines to hospitals and villages, builds orphanages and supports the infrastructure of the impoverished communities.

One day, as he gazed out of a hospital window, he spotted Lenuta working in a potato field and it was a severe case of love at first sight.

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And after marrying his sweetheart during a traditional 20-hour Romanian ceremony, Paul turned his back on life in Britain.

He gave up the relative comforts of life as he knew it and now lives in a £3,000 mud house in Lenuta's home village of Fintinele, which has no running water. He survives on wages of just £130 a month.

But this week, the family are enjoying a break from their charity work and are staying back in Sudbury with Paul's grandparents.

And yesterday, he told the EADT he does not regret his move to Romania one bit.

He said: "Obviously I miss things about home, like the food, hot baths and socialising with my friends, but I have now got used to a more basic way of life and I don't regret my move for one minute.

"The way of life is completely different and the experience has changed the way I approach life. Romania is improving, especially in the cities, which are becoming more like other European cities, and some even have McDonalds now.

"But things are very different in the villages, which are still a long, long way behind Britain. The living conditions are very basic, and there is still a lot of poverty.

"In the hospitals you see naked patients because they can't afford clothes, and there is often only one medical assistant per 80 patients. There is a long way to go and much work still to be done."

Although happy in Romania, Paul stressed the importance of keeping his son in touch with his British routes.

"He is a British citizen, so it is very important he understands the way of life," he added. "It is very good that he has the opportunity to come here and see so may things he has never seen before, and to witness a different culture.

"We took him to a mother and toddler's club and he was amazed by all the toys and facilities. In Romania, his favourite toy is a whip.

"Life is very different for him compared with British children. In England, mothers tell their children to be careful of cars on the roads, but Joshua has to watch out for horse and carts. In fact, the other week he was nearly knocked over by a horse."

Paul is now working as a field officer for Romania Care and is currently overseeing the building of a £150,000 hospital and elderly respite home in the village of IIisesti, which is near completion.

But, when that project is finished, Paul says there will be at least another three years of charity work to do before he considers a move back to England.

He said: "Every time I come home, I find it harder to go back to Romania. Lenuta also likes Britain and the way of life, so you can never say never.

"I think there is another three or four years work left to do here and as long as there is charitable and humanitarian work to be done in Romania, I will not be coming back to England."

Paul, Lenuta and young Joshua return to Romania on Friday.

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