Together at last

PUBLISHED: 10:44 03 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2010

Stephanie and Mark Goddard are together again after their 15-month red-tape battle – Pic: Daniel Wilson 58DW06

Stephanie and Mark Goddard are together again after their 15-month red-tape battle - Pic: Daniel Wilson 58DW06

MARK Goddard s 15 months of absolute hell has come to an end. He has been reunited with his wife Stephanie after a battle over red-tape had seen the couple living apart for more than a year. But even while he waited at Heathrow on Sunday morning for the

MARK Goddard's 15 months of "absolute hell" has come to an end.

He has been reunited with his wife Stephanie after a battle over red-tape had seen the couple living apart for more than a year.

But even while he waited at Heathrow on Sunday morning for the plane carrying his wife from Jamaica to arrive he was still worried.

"I was still waiting for it all to go wrong," he said in an exclusive interview with The Crow.

"I had become so disenchanted with the whole process that I couldn't really believe we had reached the end," he said.

"I was still thinking that something was going to go wrong.

"In my heart I was always worried that we didn't have the right paperwork," he said.

"I was told Stephanie may have to bring some documents with her to prove we had been together as a couple.

"We were thinking the only reason we had been apart is because the authorities wouldn't let us be a couple."

Stephanie said it "seemed like ages" going through controls at Heathrow. " As soon as I saw Mark I was crying. The most important thing to me was that I loved him."

Their problems began in February 2006 shortly after they were married in Jamaica.

It was then discovered that Stephanie had to renew her visa - and the authorities turned down her application.

This led to their 15-month battle with red-tape. It was a time Mark described as an "absolute hell" and Stephanie as "traumatic".

Although Mark eventually won an appeal at an Immigration Appeal allowing Stephanie into the country, there was still months of waiting until the red-tape was cut in Jamaica.

"This time last week I was on the verge of booking a flight to Jamaica. I couldn't face being without her," said Mark, who was 42 on Tuesday.

Instead he was told on Thursday that the paperwork had been completed and Stephanie was set to return.

It was last week, too, that Royston's MP Oliver Heald called the visa department at the Home Office to question the delay in releasing the paperwork.

He said: "I'm delighted that the matter has been resolved and that the couple have now been re-united."

Mark, who has been staying with his parents at Leete Place, Royston, was an ex-student at The Meridian School and also attended Roysia School, Royston.

He has been voted the leading Elvis Presley tribute act in the country and also works as a tour guide at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground and as the warm-up man for the Trisha Show.

He said he believed that once the appeal had been granted it would only be a matter of weeks for the processing of the documents.

"It was a huge shock that the process was taking so long. It just dragged on," he said.

"It was frustrating because once a judge makes a decision it's usually carried out there and then."

He said: "In theory they had lost the case. If that put their nose out of joint they can take as long as they like with the paperwork.

"There is no-one there telling them that the decision has been made and that they must act on it."

Mark was helped during the appeal by presenting a 1,000-signature petition which had been collected by veteran campaigner Terry Hutt.

Mark said that Mr Hutt had been "amazing" in his support. "I think the petition helped to strengthen our case."

He added: "All our plans are 12 months or so behind, but, at least, we're now together and have a future.

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