Sports therapist Carolyn Wellington's dream of tying the knot with her American fiance this month turned into a nightmare when his application for a marriage visa hadn't been processed despite being submitted in May.
Carolyn said she contacted everyone from Prime Minister Boris Johnston to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher in the hope of getting Trent’s application for the UK Visitors Marriage Visa expedited. She said: “Priti Patel emailed me, absolutely appalled by what was going on and took it upon herself to take the details and get her Private Office to look into it. I am so grateful to her."
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are pleased to confirm that Mr Jenkins' visa has now been processed and we apologise for the delay."
Carolyn said: "I'm ecstatic. When I heard, I literally ran through my house screaming at the top of my voice ''I'm getting married".
"Priti Patel has saved the wedding - she's stopped me from crying. I am elated, so happy - and smiling from ear to ear. I told her when I first contacted her that if you sort this for me, there is a seat at one of my wedding tables and she said 'let's get this sorted first'. I'm now going to email her and say that the invite is open - she is my best friend right now.
"I think without Priti's intervention, I'd still be waiting. There are hundreds and thousands of people in the same situation. I put what I was going through on social media and I got others saying I'm going through the same thing, we've had to change our wedding twice or three times. Someone messaged me on TikTok saying: 'Good luck, we're still waiting."
Her MP Mark Fletcher said: “My office routinely supports over 10,000 constituents every year on various matters and I’m very proud of how often we can assist people. Ms Wellington first contacted me on July 19 with growing concerns that her partner, Trent, had not yet received his visa, having applied at the end of May, and expecting to travel on August 19 for their wedding on August 25.
“I raised the case with the Home Office, on July 19 and escalated on July 26. We are still within the three months the Home Office advise the process will take, and understand the issue has now been resolved.
“I wish them both well with the wedding and a very happy future together.”
Carolyn says she won't be able to fully relax until computer programmer Trent, 63, receives his passport with the UK Visitors Marriage Visa.
Sixty guests from Belize and other areas of America will be attending the wedding ceremony at Chesterfield Register Office followed by a reception at Casa Hotel.
Trent and Carolyn booked the register office in September last year. Carolyn said: “The registrar said that you need to apply three months before and you get it back in about three weeks. We did it at the end of May and waited for a few weeks before I rang them on July 18.”
When Carolyn told the government department about the wedding guests travelling from abroad, the representative said that the application hadn’t been looked at and it would take eight weeks. She said: “I told him that I get married in 39 days and he went ‘you’ll have to change your wedding date'.
"I felt upset, hurt, disappointed and disillusioned. I’m asking for happiness but all of a sudden, the government is saying no, not yet – you’ll have to wait. I’m at the last stage in my life and I’ve got some young person on the phone saying ‘change your wedding date."
Trent and Carolyn have both been married twice before. Carolyn has a son Carlton, 32, and a daughter Maritina, 22, while Trent has four children and two adopted children, aged between 20 years and 40 years, and two grandchildren.
They connected on a dating app five years ago and met in person for the first time five months later when Carlton treated his mum to a birthday flight to stay with her cousin in Belize. Carolyn said: “I texted Trent and told him and he said ‘have you got a lay-over?’ I said I won’t get in until 5pm and will be flying back out at 4am. He said ‘I'll meet you in Atlanta'. When I got to Atlanta I came through the gate and thought where is he going to be? As I lifted my head, he was running towards me. He gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek.
"He booked a beautiful restaurant in downtown Atlanta that night. After the meal, he went to his room and said ‘I’ll see you in the morning, go and get some sleep’. The following morning he knocked on the door and said ‘it’s 4am, you’ve got to get ready, you’ve got a plane to catch. When I was ready, he came back to my room, put both hands on my shoulders and looked at me and said ‘I’ve got something to say to you but you don’t have to say a word.’ He went: 'I’ve actually fallen in love with you.' I was taken aback even though it was what I wanted to hear. I said, quite flippantly, that’s fine, I’m only two steps behind you.”
Trent proposed to Carolyn in Barbados, where her grandfather hailed from, during a cruise to celebrate her 60th birthday.
She said: “I came back to the UK on a high, thinking I’m getting married. I got back on March 17, we went into lockdown on March 23 and we didn’t see each other for 19 months, which was hard.”
Since that first face to face meeting, Carolyn and Trent have texted each other every day. She said: “There’s not one night that we go to sleep without saying good night to each other.
"Once we're married, Trent will take the marriage certificate back to the US and then he starts the whole spouse process for me to move over there,” said Carolyn. “ I’ll have to have interviews and medicals and it is going to take at least 12 months.”