Dad opens new gym two years after immigration battle began
PUBLISHED: 12:21 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:29 28 January 2020
DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARK
A Manningtree father has fulfilled a lifelong dream of opening his own gym - nearly two years after a gruelling immigration battle saw his wife threatened with deportation.
Personal trainer Dean Smith launched Fitness at Summer's Park this week after several months of hard work.
A joint venture with Tendring councillor Carlo Guglielmi - who supported Dean and his wife Grace through their ordeal in 2018 - the gym is based in the heart of the housing development, off Cox's Hill in Lawford.
MORE: 'Our daughter could have been born in a detention centre - now we're celebrating her christening'
For Dean and Grace, who christened their daughter Amillia in August last year, the project rounds off what has been a tumultuous two years for the couple.
"It was a life time dream to see this facility open," said Dean.
"There was so much support from the community over the immigration, and this is our way of saying thanks - bringing this facility to the community. We are happy to help in any way, they have given us so much."
In February 2018, the pair became embroiled in a row with the Home Office after Chinese national Grace had three visa applications thrown out.
Grace was left distraught after being told she must return to China - despite being just weeks away from giving birth.
MORE: Watch heart-wrenching interview with expectant mum facing deportation at seven months pregnant
She met and married husband Dean in China - where they both worked - more than 10 years ago but the pair returned to Manningtree to look after her husband's dying father.
Grace was originally granted a spouse visa which expired in February 2018, and she spent £11,000 on three failed applications.
She even lost her job at Marks and Spencer in Colchester, because her right to work was withdrawn.
Dozens of people fought the pair's corner at a public meeting, while nearly 2,000 signed a petition.
Eventually, Grace was granted a visa after the Home Office reversed their decision at the end of September last year.
Amillia was born just weeks later, on November 25.