Nightmare almost over for split family

Jillian Elwell, 39, pictured with her husband Fikret Kabul, 42 and their sons Leo,11 and Mikey, five.
Jillian Elwell, 39, pictured with her husband Fikret Kabul, 42 and their sons Leo,11 and Mikey, five.

A FAMILY forced to live apart for over a year are finally to be reunited.

Reform Club steward Jillian Elwell will soon welcome her Turkish husband Fikret Kabul home to Goldthorpe, and her young sons Leo and Mikey can’t wait to see their dad.

Their separation was enforced by a bureaucratic nightmare that saw the family shell out thousands of pounds in attempts to renew Fikret’s visa when it ran out last summer.

A ‘fast-track’ visa company failed to deliver on costly promises, then Fikret failed the newly-introduced test that would allow him to apply for residency. In desperation Jill sold her car to finance continued attempts to resolve the situation. Her efforts were supported by Dearne MP John Healey who pleaded compassionate grounds to the Home Office for bringing action forward.

Their Appeal against the UK Border Agency’s decision not to let Fikret return home was to take place on Monday, but just prior to that Jill, 39, got the news she longed to hear from the British Embassy.

She said: “I had a call from a lovely lady in Istanbul who asked me to send a last document - to add to the other 5000 or so I’ve sent off - and she was hopeful things would be resolved quickly.

“Then she called Fikret and told him he had his two-year visa. He rang me straight away.

“All we’re waiting for now is a stamp on his passport and he’ll be on the first flight home. The boys have been trawling the internet finding the best flight...they’re so excited. They burst out crying when I told them, but we’re saving the celebrations for when Fikret’s here - we’ll have the biggest party possible!”

Jill and Fikret met in 1995 when Jill was on holiday in Turkey. The couple quickly realised they wanted to be together and initially Fikret, who ran a bar, would visit Goldthorpe for three to six months at a time, following his summer season.

They married 13 years ago then when Leo arrived two years later they made Goldthorpe their home and Fikret acquired two-year spouse visas, until he failed to pass his residency test and his visa was not renewed.

Despite heavy expenditure on applications through the company that has now dissolved, no visa came through. Fikret passed an easier test for a two-year visa but that too failed to materialise.

Last month Jill told the Times how the saga had made her parents ill, and how Leo, 11, and Mikey, five, have constantly asked for their dad. On his return Fikret will help Jill to run the Reform WMC where regulars are waiting to welcome him back.

Mr Healey said he “wholeheartedly supported the case for Fikret’s appeal to be expedited.” He was delighted at the latest news and is keen to meet Fikret on his return.

“It’s been horrible, stressful, and although I don’t think we will get any money back I don’t care. The important thing is to have Fikret here and for the nightmare to be over,” added Jill.

They will do all they can to ensure Fikret passes his residency test during the next two years to secure his long-term future. But the expense continues as that alone costs £1,900. Jill is organising fundraiser events in the secure knowledge that the community will support them.