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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Cumbrian family together again after dad wins deportation appeal

A family torn apart for two years has finally been reunited after winning a deportation battle.

Robin Catwell photo
Robin with his children, Kara, Kennedy, Kyslie, Kristofer, and wife Debbie

Related: Home Office delay for Cumbrian dad kicked out of UK

Debbie Forde Catwell and her four children’s lives were shattered when her husband Robin was kicked out of the country and told to return to his homeland of Barbados.

After months of disappointment, frustration and anger, the family, who moved to Whitehaven in 2011, now have their happy ending as Robin has won his appeal.

The News & Star was invited by the Catwells to their tearful reunion and saw their relief after the emotional rollercoaster came to an end.

“It has been hell on earth since Robin went and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” said an overwhelmed Debbie. “This has been so painful for us all to go through – it’s awful not being allowed to be a family.”

The 45-year-old and the couple’s four children, Kara, 17, Kennedy, 14, Kyslie, 11, and eight-year-old Kristofer, last saw Robin at Christmas when they flew out to Barbados to be with him.

But since then, the only contact they have had is tearful phonecalls each day.

It was last February that Debbie, a British citizen, lodged an appeal with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) against the decision to kick Robin out of the country four months earlier.

He was denied a visa by the British government because he did not have an income or savings of £63,000.

Debbie was initially told to expect the ruling by last July, but the day came and went and there was no news. She was then given a date as last October as a judge was looking at the case.

But it was not until this January that the family got the news that Robin had won the appeal. But again they faced months of agonising waiting, as he only received his visa last Thursday and within hours he was on a plane heading for Manchester.

Debbie said: “It has been one nightmare after another. We’re all over the moon. It has been a long road but we finally got there in the end.

“Robin has got a one-way ticket, we don’t know when he’ll go back.”

When Robin got off the train at Whitehaven, his elder two children, together with Debbie, ran into his arms on the platform, crying with relief.

And a couple of hours later, the couple’s two younger children – who thought their father was due home the following day – got the shock of their lives when they spotted him sitting outside in the garden.

“We have had so much support and are so thankful to everyone,” said Debbie. “We are just going to enjoy family time and make up for what we’ve lost.”

Robin, who works in Barbados to support his family, had previously travelled to the UK to see his family for two months, four times a year.

Previous laws enabled him to travel to the country as a visitor and stay with his family for up to six months at a time.

But a change in the law meant he had to show that he and his wife have an annual income of £18,600 for the next two-and-a-half years, plus £16,000 in savings, for a visa to be approved.

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