Mary's double wedding joy

By Rebecca SheppardA GRANDMOTHER who faced deportation last year after being classified as an illegal immigrant has become a full British citizen after getting married.

By Rebecca Sheppard

A GRANDMOTHER who faced deportation last year after being classified as an illegal immigrant has become a full British citizen after getting married.

Mary Martin launched a frantic battle with the Home Office last February after it gave her only 10 days to prepare for deportation from Britain, where she had lived for 53 years.

However, the grandmother - who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but left America when she was two years old - was given an 11th-hour reprieve following a widespread protest at her treatment and told she would no longer be classified as an illegal immigrant.

Now the 57-year-old grandmother, from Trimley St Mary, has been celebrating her marriage to her partner of 13 years, Edward Harrod, as well as the knowledge that she will never have to go through the threat of deportation again.

Now known as Mrs Harrod, she said after her wedding on Saturday: "I have had a beautiful day, the day of my dreams.

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"It's been lovely to know that I am all legal and married in this country. I have a certificate to say I can stay in this country and a passport so I can go on a honeymoon."

She recalled: "It was a nightmare back then. I asked Ted to marry me at Christmas and he said yes. We have been together for 13 years, but I couldn't get married before as I hadn't got the proper paperwork.

"I've been married before, but it was just at a register office and then we went home. This time I wanted a proper wedding. It's been hard work. It took 18 months to get all the paperwork ready."

Mr Harrod, 62, who had proposed to her before but had been declined because of the passport problems, added: "It's been absolutely wonderful and we are both over the moon. We were both very worried about the deportation.

"I would like to go to America in the near future now that she can go and is safe as she has a passport.

"It would be good to take her on a trip back to her roots, but we will have to see. It's lovely to have a future without the worry."

The couple were married at Ipswich Register Office and were in full wedding attire, with Mrs Harrod wearing an ivory dress and accompanied by five bridesmaids wearing mint green.

They were driven in a vintage car, ironically called the Flying Lady, back to a reception in a marquee before setting off for their honeymoon in France.

Mrs Harrod only became aware of a problem with her citizenship status when her mother, June, died three years ago.

Her mother had refused to answer questions about her father, James Martin, whom she had met and married when he was serving with the United States Air Force in Suffolk.

When the couple had split up, their children, Mrs Harrod and her brother Walter, were left homeless in Baltimore and they fled with their mother to Britain in 1949.

It was only when her mother died that she learned from the Home Office that she had never been registered as a British citizen, prompting the deportation bid.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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