September 2 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Teenagers who were told they could not go on a school trip because of passport problems have been thrown a lifeline – just 10 hours before departure.
Thirty students from Hellesdon High School were looking forward to visiting the sites of Paris, the rides at Disneyland and battlefields of Ypres from tonight until Saturday.
But after a last-minute bungle, eight youngsters relying on the group passport to travel were told to stay at home because their documents had not arrived.
News of their disappointment and upset reached the Norwich Evening News – and after we contacted the Home Office it was announced the essential travel documents would be with the school in the nick of time before the 11pm departure.
Mum-of-five Lisa Wooden, 39, from Hainford, said her daughter Elisha, 14, was devastated when she found out yesterday she could not join her friends on the £345 trip.
The year eight pupil’s passport had expired but her family was reassured by the school that it did not matter as she – and seven others – would be able to travel on the group passport.
Mrs Wooden, a waitress, said she is grateful to the Evening News for sorting the problem.
“Elisha had looked forward to the trip for so long,” she said.
“It’s disgraceful what has happened. I’ve been on edge, worrying about it.
“If the school had told us in advance there might be a problem then I would have gone to Peterborough to get Elisha a passport.”
The school said it had made numerous calls to the passport office, but had not been able to resolve the situation.
Before news of the situation being solved broke, a school spokesman said they were “desperately disappointed” the students would miss out on this “valuable educational opportunity”.
A spokesman from the Home Office said the school’s departure date on the application was July 16 and it had been processed within the normal 10 days. He described the arrival of the documents at the school 10 hours before departure as a “quick turnaround”.
Last month it was reported the Passport Office is dealing with a backlog of about 53,000 passport applications.
MP for Norwich North, Chloe Smith said she has helped eight families having issues with the document.
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