Damary Dawkins's grandmother arrives in the UK for his funeral after Home Office reverses visa block
PUBLISHED: 13:24 25 April 2019 | UPDATED: 07:26 26 April 2019
A grieving family from Dagenham has welcomed the government's decision to grant a visa so a grandmother can attend her grandson's funeral.
Ivy Powell, 67, wanted to fly to the UK to say goodbye to 13-year-old Damary Dawkins who lost his battle with leukaemia last month.
Her visa application was originally refused after the Home Office claimed she was unable to support herself financially despite the fact she is retired.
However, after the Post raised her plight and Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge got involved, the government reversed its decision.
Damary's dad, Tony, speaking on his way back from picking Ivy up at the airport, said: “It's great news. It means a lot to us.
“At the end of the day, a daughter needs their mother, especially at a time like this. Only a mother can console a grieving daughter. I can console her to a point but we are all grieving.”
The Home Office said that after reviewing the case and in light of the compassionate circumstances a visit visa was issued.
On how the refusal affected the family, Tony said: “It was another added stress on top of the stress we already had.
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“The government has forgotten about family values but showing [Ivy] compassion so she can come here to pay her respects is a way forward. I'm glad they saw sense.”
He added that this was his mother-in-law's first aeroplane journey and trip abroad.
Beverly De-Gale, co-founder of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) which launched a campaign to find Damary a stem cell donor, said: “It's the best news possible.
“It just astonishes me that something of this nature was questioned by the Home Office. This lady just wants to do what any grandmother would want to do - to see her grandson laid to rest and support her daughter and son-in-law.”
She thanked Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge for intervening.
“Hopefully, this decision will bring some comfort to Nadine and Tony and help them through the funeral and months ahead.”
Dame Margaret said: “I'm pleased to hear that Damary Dawkins' grandmother has finally been granted a visa to attend his funeral. I was more than happy to assist the family in ensuring that Damary's grandmother could attend his funeral and be with their family during this difficult time.”
Sydney Russell School pupil Damary passed away on March 17 almost three months after he had a stem cell transplant.
During his fight, the Crystal Palace youth player gained the support of the Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling who offered to pay for his funeral.
Raheem, 23, had tweeted about Damary's plight and visited him in hospital when he was being treated.