Wales

Builth Wells grandmother facing deportation allowed to stay in Wales

Carol Hirst is "over the moon" she has been granted leave to remain in the UK Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Carol Hirst is "over the moon" she has been granted leave to remain in the UK

A grandmother facing deportation to South Africa has been granted leave to remain by the Home Office.

Carol Hirst has been living in Wales with her family on an ancestry visa. But when she applied to stay permanently, she was told she would have to leave.

Mrs Hirst, 79, of Builth Wells, Powys, said she thought contacting the Home Office would be just a "formality".

It said "further information received" had led to the "exceptional decision".

"I was over the moon, I told the man on the phone I wanted to hug him," said Mrs Hirst.

"He just laughed and said he was only the messenger. It's such a relief after having that hanging [over me]."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Mrs Hirst, pictured with her daughter Nikki, grandson Connor and husband Mike, says she never wants to leave Wales

Mrs Hirst came to the UK with her British husband of 44 years about five years ago, after she was robbed at gunpoint in South Africa.

"All the strangers that have supported me have been wonderful," she said.

"I got a personal letter from someone in California rooting for me. It's overwhelming."

Her daughter Nikki Blandin De Chalain was worried the family could be waiting months or years for a decision.

"We have had lots of champagne," she said.

"It's my birthday on Wednesday and the only thing I asked for was for my mum to be able to stay. And I got that."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Mrs Hirst and her husband Mike have been married for 44 years

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "All immigration applications are considered on their individual merits and on the basis of the evidence available.

"In line with the immigration rules, the original decision to refuse indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to Mrs Hirst was correct based on the circumstances.

"In light of further information received, we revisited Carolyn Hirst's case and made the exceptional decision to grant ILR."

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