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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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South African man living in Cumbria wins battle to stay in UK

An English-speaking South African man who was threatened with deportation because officials didn’t acknowledge he spoke the language has won his battle to stay in the UK.

Shelley and Donovan Tapping photo
Shelley and Donovan Tapping

Donovan Tapping, from Penrith, has been granted the right to stay in the country after a 13-day “hell” in which he was told he would have to return to his native country – despite having lived in the UK for 10 years.

The Home Office refused 36-year-old Mr Tapping permission to stay in the UK because they said he had not taken an English exam – despite it being his main language.

Donovan, who works at the Frank Bird poultry factory in Langwathby, and his wife Shelley fought to have the decision reversed since hearing the news last month.

Donovan said: “I was ecstatic that my life can get back on track and back to normal. I have now gone back to work and can get on with my life. There was a lot of stress as you didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Now Donovan, who married Shelley last September, will take part in a citizenship ceremony in the near future to affirm his new status. He also wants to apply for a British passport.

Shelley said: “We couldn’t be happier, we can spend our married life together rather than being separated. Now we have so much to look forward to.

“When we got the news there was a whole range of emotions. You didn’t know whether to cry or jump for joy, everything was very mixed. We are very relieved and over the moon that he’s here to stay.”

Shelley hopes that she and her husband never have to go through a similar ordeal again.

“It was hell. The whole thing was so stressful, emotional and we suffered financially because he wasn’t able to work. Life was on hold.

“It doesn’t feel like it even happened as it was such a blur. I never want to have to go through something like that again, but I would do it in a heartbeat if it meant Donovan could stay here.”

The couple feel that they have not only won their own battle, but may have helped improve the situation for other families in a similar position.

Donovan had to fill in a new form for his second application with the misleading questions that caused him problems the first time around removed.

“Hopefully our campaigning over the 13 days has changed it for other families. We wanted to make a difference and make people more aware of the problems. Since we told our story, more and more have been popping up so hopefully we did some good.”

The story of Donovan’s woes received a mass of support with people clamouring in their hundreds to sign online petitions, back Facebook campaigns and take to the streets to ensure justice was done.

“I can’t thank family and friends enough for what they have done. Me and Donovan can never repay for them for their support. The amount of support from people we don’t even know has been overwhelming, hopefully we made a difference.”

A Home Office spokesman confirmed Donovan had been granted a reprieve.

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