A Catford bank employee who went missing after splurging £200,000 on her devoted grandmother who had taken her in after being abandoned had her book published last month.
Shelley MacKenney, 34, a former resident of Crutchley Road, Downham, felt guilty so that her grandmother Eileen was caring for her after her mother walked out that she ran up huge bills on credit cards, overdrafts and loans to treat her.
Her book ‘Missing’ tells the story of when her spending spiralled out of control forcing Ms MacKenney to walk out on her life and became a missing person.
“My grandmother was wonderful to me and has always been my biggest champion however, I was left with lasting abandonment issues. I never felt like I belonged anywhere or that I was worthy of love,” she said.
The single mother, who at the time was a 22, got a job working as a cashier at The Woolwich Bank on Catford High Street.
There, unknown to her grandmother, she experimented with different products the bank had to offer.
“I worked my way through my roles in the bank – cashier, reception, meet and greet, supervisor, branch adviser, and all the time I was surrounded by various forms of credit – credit cards, loans, overdrafts and mortgages. I got them all, it was so easy because I was working there.
Ms MacKenney’s vicious cycle of spending and not being able to pay the money back or tell her grandmother resulted in threats from bailiffs which led to depression, weight loss and suicide attempts.
Then one day she snapped and got a coach to Birmingham and literally walked out on her life.
She said: “I was attacked many times and every time I fought back like a deranged animal – when I look back now I realise how very lucky I was because that angry/not caring/confused state of mind made me fight when I needed to. It kept me safe. How I ended up not raped or murdered or on drugs is nothing short of a miracle.”
Now living in Birmingham with a ten-year-old daughter, Ms MacKenney recalls the extensive counselling sessions which helped ‘put her at peace’ and make that all-important call to her grandmother back in Catford.
“By now I was the normal me and I felt strong enough to try and make the first contact – so I rang and spoke to my nan. It took me three hours of sitting with the phone to actually pluck up the guts,” she said.
Since her 18 month ordeal, Ms MacKenney has been working with the police to highlight the difficulties vulnerable people face living on the streets.
“I feel that writing my book has been an achievement and I want to show my daughter you can achieve anything if you try hard enough. I want to inspire her,” she said.