Nurse left heartbroken as passport shambles means mum could miss her wedding
A Welsh emergency department sister who saw "unspeakable trauma" working on the frontline during the pandemic, has shared her devastation that her beloved mum is unlikely to be be able to watch her get married as her passport hasn't arrived in time.
Ashleigh Jenkins, from Bridgend, has worked for NHS Wales for six years and has been looking forward to marrying her childhood sweetheart Matthew Jenkins for years. The pair have been together since 2008, having met as teenagers through Ashleigh's cousin who went to school with Matt. While they were friends first it wasn't long before their friendship grew into something more.
Ashleigh said: "I had just come back from a family holiday and he from a rugby tour in South Africa and we met up with friends not expecting to see the other person there – but there we both were.
"He took my hand and held it and we've been together ever since, I was 15 and he was 16.
"We had our legal Covid [marriage] service to sign the documents last May, 2021, so that we could finally have our wedding ceremony in June 2022."
The pair's wedding is set to take place on Wednesday, June 22, in a chateau the couple have rented in the Loire Valley in France.
Alongside the bride and groom the couple's parents, siblings, siblings' partners, and a few close friends are preparing to jet off to celebrate the special occasion. But as Ashleigh's mum Marian doesn't yet have her passport, it's unlikely she'll be able to watch her daughter walk down the aisle.
Knowing the Passport Office is taking some time to issue passports, Ashleigh helped her mum apply for her first passport back in February.
The pair posted the application on February 7 and received confirmation from the passport office on March 29 that the application had been received and was being processed, but as of June 17 Marian still hasn't received her passport.
The Passport Office advises Brits allow 10 weeks for their passports to arrive. Ashleigh and her mum Marian have now been waiting 11 weeks since they received confirmation that Marian's passport application was being processed and more than four months since they the application.
The pair say they've asked the Passport Office for information several times over the past few months, but have been given little detail about the delay.
They're holding out hope the passport will arrive in time for the family's flight to France on Monday, or by the wedding next Wednesday, but it's looking unlikely.Ashleigh said: "I am finally getting married to my childhood sweetheart in France after our wedding has been postponed twice already due to Covid. All of this is amazing.
"However my mother placed an application for a new passport on February 7, 2022, and has frequently been in touch with the Passport Office throughout who have never voiced any concerns and stated she would receive her passport on Wednesday [June 15].
"She contacted them again last week to ask when they'd be sending the passport as she'd rather collect it in person from the Newport office to ensure it would arrive by our departure date of June 20, 2022."The Passport Office has now stated that they will not be finalising her application in time for our flight on Monday, June 20, and have given her no date of completion or delivery.
"When questioned we get no answers at all and on average only receive a call back every fifth phone call that we make with no further information. Despite my wonderful mother phoning every day and being physically sick from stress, contacting her local MP as well as her GP, we’re no further to answers or resolution."My mother has been my rock throughout the most horrendous two and a half years working on the frontline and I cannot fathom that she won’t be there on my wedding day," she added.
"I've been strong until now but I'm just inconsolable at the thought that she might not be there."
HM Passport Office response
In response a spokesman for HM Passport Office said: "Staff are processing approximately 250,000 passport applications each week and the latest figures show that 98.5% of applications have been completed within 10 weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.
"Since April 2021 we’ve clearly stated that people should allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their passport to factor in the increased demand, which has seen five million people delay their passport application due to the pandemic. An expedited service is available to help the small percentage of people whose applications take longer than 10 weeks to receive their passports before they travel."