They were the Moonies – named after their Korean founder Sun Myung Moon and they were operating from a farmhouse just outside Reading.
The community of 15 was led by a local man and his wife; it was clean – drug-free and essentially Christian – all of which appealed to me.
By the end of the weekend I had agreed to stay for six months.
When Moon called us to America six months later I didn’t hesitate; I was barely in touch with my family by then and I thought the apocalypse was coming.
I suppose I’d been brainwashed.
Much of my time was spent travelling between Moonie centres along the east coast, preaching on the street corners of nearby towns and helping to establish new communities.
Five years after I joined Moon declared that I should marry.
He paired couples at random; no one questioned his judgment.
My bride was to be a young Austrian girl called Heidi.
We had no contact until the wedding day.
Moon performed the ceremony in a hall in Washington with 700 couples and after the vows I was made to cane my wife as hard as possible.
It wasn’t in my nature to do that and I didn’t enjoy it – but you didn’t question Moon and his men were watching us closely.