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Couple torn apart by South Africa visa nightmare are reunited
10:00am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
“I COULDN’T be happier.”
Those are the words of former Hampshire shopkeeper Lionel Illgner who has finally returned to the UK after a nine-month visa battle that forced him to postpone his wedding.
Lionel, 49, and 44-year-old Alison Probert were planning to tie the knot in August.
But Lionel had to fly back to his native South Africa to make new visa arrangements and was stranded there after his initial application was rejected.
He was eventually allowed to return following an appeal backed by friends and neighbours in his home village of Milford on Sea.
He and Alison are now planning to get married next April in a ceremony conducted by her father, the Rev Bev Probert.
Lionel told the Daily Echo: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be home again – I missed Alison like you couldn’t believe.
“The difficulties I had obtaining my new visa were very stressful and we’re both overjoyed that I’m back. The welcome I’ve had since I returned has been fantastic.”
Alison, a teacher at Oakmead College of Technology in Bournemouth, added: “It was torture waiting to find out if he was coming home.”
Lionel has lived in the UK since 2009 and used to run a hardware shop in Milford.
His original application to remain in this country was rejected after officials said he failed to submit enough evidence to justify a new visa.
Cllr Kendal said: “I’m very grateful to the authorities for seeing sense.
“This was a very genuine case involving someone who has been living in the UK for some time. The original application was rejected because certain details were not included and there was a misunderstanding.”
The couple plan to marry at Canford Magna, near Poole, with a reception in Milford.
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