IT was the dream holiday set to end in tears before it had even begun.
Mother-of-three Diane Fletcher faced losing thousands of pounds when the national passport crisis looked set to destroy her once-in-a-lifetime trip.
But proving that dreams really do come true, today the Southampton family are setting off to Disneyland Paris thanks to their very own fairy godmother, MP Caroline Nokes.
However, as they thank the Romsey and Southampton North MP for fighting their case, Diane has hit out at “shambolic” passport officials who have lost her birth certificate in the confusion.
Diane, 53, was among 480,000 people caught in the backlog of unprocessed applications.
The facilities manager, from Bassett, applied for a passport renewal six weeks ahead of their trip to the French theme park for what is their first overseas family holiday in 14 years.
She also requested full passports for son Oliver, 12, and daughter Amelia, 10.
Panic set in two weeks ago when she discovered that they would not be ready in time.
Officials at Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) ordered a further payment of £165 – on top of the £85 already paid – for a ‘fast-track’ service but could not guarantee delivery by today.
Diane, who is also holidaying with daughter Chloe, 22, said: “I was almost in tears – it was horrendous. We’d been planning it for so long and the kids were devastated.
“It’s an absolute shambles.”
At her wits end, she contacted Ms Nokes, who liaised with the office on behalf of her and a number of other constituents caught in the crisis.
As a result a package finally arrived on Wednesday – but minus Diane’s birth certificate.
Diane, who home-schools her children and is therefore able to take them away during term-time, said: “Words can’t express how delighted we are to finally go on a holiday we have been planning for years. I am just so grateful to Caroline for all her hard work or it would have been money down the drain.”
Ms Nokes, above, said it was the best part of her job when she can help constituents like Diane get a positive outcome.
A spokesman for HMPO said the department always advised having an in-date passport before booking holidays.