A 92-year-old widow will be allowed to stay in Britain with her only child in a dramatic U-turn after she was ordered to leave the country and return to her native South Africa today.
Myrtle Cothill, whose father fought for Britain in the First and Second World Wars, suffers from heart problems and relies on the care of her 66-year-old daughter, Mary Wills, who is a British citizen.
She has lived at her daughter’s home in Poole, Dorset, since February 2014 and applied to remain in the country as an adult dependent on human rights grounds, but the applications was refused.
However, after another medical assessment and a 54,000 signature petition, the Home Office has now overturned the decision and granted her leave to stay in the UK.
The family said they are delighted and are now waiting to hear from the Home Office about the next move, ITV News reported.
Mrs Cothill was initially told she must board a flight back to South Africa on Tuesday, despite having no close family in her home country.
In a heartbreaking statement posted online, Mrs Wills wrote how she fears the move will kill her mother, who depends on her for her personal care, cooking and shopping.
She posted: ‘My mother just cannot live on her own, and emotionally, to her as well as for myself, it would really tear strips out of our heart and probably would kill my mother, and maybe myself as well.’
Mrs Willis, a professional carer, lives with her husband David, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has problems with his heart.
The family said they are delighted and are now waiting to hear from the Home Office about the next move
She said her husband’s health means they cannot travel to South Africa to look after her mother, and that they do not have a right to live in the country.
Mrs Cothill’s barrister, Jan Doerfel, said: ‘This is a heart-breaking situation for Myrtle and Mary. If Myrtle does not depart, she will be at risk not only of immigration detention but also of enforced removal.’
Mr Doerfel set up an online petition on change.org calling for his client to be allowed to stay in the UK. More than 52,000 people have signed.
James Davies, Mrs Cothill’s immigration adviser at the International Care Network, said: ‘Myrtle does not have close family members in South Africa willing and or able to look after her, and is dependent on both the emotional and physical care of her daughter in the UK.
‘To take a decision to remove her is contrary to every human instinct or duty to care for our elders.’