An unlikely friendship has been formed between a former homemaker, and a convicted drug smuggler who served 14 years in a Thai prison. 62-years-old Victoria Oak, mother of four, from Putney, London started writing to 63-year-old Andy Hawke, after her daughter Samantha, now 35, met him at Bang Kwang prison in Thailand while she was travelling during her gap year in 2006 and they started exchanging letters. Eventually, Sam convinced her mother to do the same and the duo developed an unexpected bond through writing.
Victoria, married for 28 years and trapped in an unhappy marriage, opened up to her pen pal and expressed her feelings in the letters. For seven years, they wrote to each other and formed a friendship, she describes as ‘escapism.’ Talking to The Mirror, she shared that, at 40, she and her husband grew apart which made her feel alone and Andy’s letters gave her solace from the difficult times she was going through. She stated that receiving hand written letters, which is rare, made her feel amazing and it turned into a real friendship as they shared everything. Although, Andy never told her what to do about her marriage or to leave her husband, but talking to him helped her overcome her loneliness.
Jailed in 1999 and sentenced for 40 years in prison for smuggling drugs into the country, Andy shared his struggles with Victoria too. She explained that his partner had passed away following which, he fell into a depression. She believes that he was taken advantage of as he was asked to take heroin to Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, over the Thai border. According to her, he was in such a dark place that he could have been easily manipulated and agreed to anything as he didn’t want to carry on anymore. Moved by his story and after six years of writing to each other in 2012, she went on a pilgrimage from the Camino de Santiago trail to the Cathedral of Santiago in Spain to pray for his early release. Luckily, her prayers answered two weeks into her journey as he was pardoned. Sam shared the wonderful news with her mother who was over the moon by it.
As he was released in March 2013 after 14 years in prison, she invited Andy to stay with them till he could stand on his feet. The pair stayed together for 1.5 years before he moved to Wales and she finally asked her husband for a divorce. Adjusting to his new life, the pair wrote a book named ‘Sentenced’ together and bonded more over it.
Sentenced is a true story that follows the remarkable and unlikely friendship that develops between two strangers – a London housewife bringing up four children and a British prisoner incarcerated in Thailand between 1998 and 2013. Available to buy now via links in bio. #Memoir pic.twitter.com/ykPiEZuVQ0— Victoria Oak (@OakVictoria) May 18, 2021
However, after 18 months, they decided to part ways as he moved to Wales but they still share an unbreakable bond and remain close. Now a full-time author, Victoria, describes him as his soulmate and calls him one of her best friends and said that she really loves him. Both of them still remain in touch and speak at least once a week.