Search

Dad opens new gym two years after immigration battle began

PUBLISHED: 12:21 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:29 28 January 2020

Dean Smith and Tendring councillor Carlo Guglielmi Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARK

Dean Smith and Tendring councillor Carlo Guglielmi Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARK

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.

The gym's opening rounds off several months of hard work Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARKThe gym's opening rounds off several months of hard work Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARK

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.

Dean and Grace Smith, from Manningtree Picture: GREGG BROWNDean and Grace Smith, from Manningtree Picture: GREGG BROWN

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.

Inside the new Fitness at Summer's Park gym Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARKInside the new Fitness at Summer's Park gym Picture: DEAN SMITH/FITNESS AT SUMMER'S PARK

"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.

Dean, Amillia and Grace Picture: DEAN SMITHDean, Amillia and Grace Picture: DEAN SMITH

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.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times