“We are not a sect”: Belgian couple who welcomed Alex Patty deny accusations

A Belgian couple found themselves at the center of this widely publicized story about a little British boy who had been missing for six years and was found in the south of France on December 10. In May 2021, former municipal councilor (Ecolo) Frédéric Hambye and former employee of the European Commission Ingrid Beauve decided to change their lives by taking a gîte in the French Pyrenees. With this decision, their fate was linked to that of Alex’s grandmother. The young Briton then led a nomadic life with his mother and grandfather. So the three found themselves at the entrance of the two Belgians.

The nomadic life, the “spiritual community”, the unstable mother … this is the life that Alex Patty knew during his years of captivity.

In the international press, headlines emphasized that the family trio lived from community to community. Very quickly, the Lodge became associated with what some describe as “sects.” So the two Belgians decided to respond in a press release to clarify the situation: “A question about the boy staying with us for a few days/weeks on a ‘workaway’ type formula where he contributes to the maintenance of the accommodation (garden, help in the kitchen) in exchange for accommodation and accommodation. We’ve been caught up in a media frenzy about a young man we’ve happily sheltered for some time. Given the confusion in the press, we decided to clarify our role in relation to this boy whom we welcomed and helped. And one day everyone who came to the lodge realized that we were not a community. We will never be! “

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By then Alex had changed his name to Zach. He worked twenty hours a week and had a private room and full access to the lodge’s facilities. The Belgian couple say they don’t know what condition the boy was in:He left on several occasions to join his mother in her successive places between Aude and Ariège. We didn’t have much contact with her and she never lived in Bastide Keet. As far as we know, she was looking for a place to live together. La Bastide lacked this ambition. Zach/Alex came back to our house for the last time earlier this summer. We think he appreciated the stability and security we represented for him. He was completely free to come and go as he pleased.”

Finder of young Alex Patty, missing for six years, testifies: “I didn’t believe it at first”

If the couple does not express too many doubts about a possible strange or illegal situation, this part of France is very popular with families and communities, wanting to find some “essentials” away from tradition. It is common for undocumented people to walk along the road and stumble. Alternative schools have also become commonplace in the region to educate the children of these families. Two Belgians later declared: ” We learned about his condition and his real name in the press early last week. We wish him all the best.”

Frédéric Hambye, a former municipal councilor, closes the affair with a final revelation, announcing to Liberation that Alex’s grandfather, given as dead by the prosecutor, is actually alive: “He was ten days ago”.

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