A grieving wife fears a dream Disneyland trip paid for by fundraisers to help her two young daughters cope with their father’s death may be off because of the passport backlog shambles.
Nadine Burton, 37, is dreading having to tell Elsie, two, and Emilia, eight, they will not be going on the three-day trip to Paris because their passports have not arrived.
The holiday has been paid for by the letting agents their father Kevin Burton worked for before his death last year from pancreatitis aged 44.
Mrs Burton, a mature student from Greater Manchester, says it was one of Kevin’s dying wishes for the family to go on the trip and the company surprised them with the money.
But now the mother fears the kind-hearted gesture will be all for nothing.
She told MailOnline: ‘I am desperate now… after all they have been through I can’t tell them that they’re not going.’
The family is one of 700,000 applicants waiting for their documentation, and it was claimed yesterday that British holidaymakers could lose £1.1billion in cancelled trips due to passports not arriving in time.
Mrs Burton applied for the family passports on March 13, but so far only the ones for her and her son, Aidan, 20, have arrived.
Despite numerous phone calls to the Passport Office – that she says have largely gone unanswered – she now believes they will not make their flight on May 17.
‘I’m just extremely stressed,’ she said.
‘This is one thing that my girls did not need. I wanted to make some nice memories with them.’
Mrs Burton lost her husband ‘completely out of the blue’ after he began experiencing stomach pain and sickness in July 2021.
He was put into intensive care for a few weeks, and diagnosed with acute necrotising pancreatitis, a disease where the gland that sits tucked behind the stomach in the upper abdomen becomes inflamed causing complications.
He then became really ‘severe’ and sadly died on August 29 last year.
Since then, the mother-of-three from Swinton has been feeling the pressure after his tragic loss.
‘His death has left a hole that will never be filled but I’ve vowed to make him proud and carry on his legacy both with his girls, me and Aidan,’ she said.
In total, Kevin’s work raised £3,000 for his dying wish with £1,000 being spent on the stay at Disneyland from May 17 until May 20 while the rest is also going towards a trip to New York for Mrs Burton’s son Aidan.
After they booked the Paris trip, the time started ticking down when the family were going to go.
And Mrs Burton has been constantly ringing the Passport Office since applying in March.
She even tried to upgrade to a fast track service – a cost of £300 – at the Passport Office but she claims that an agent told her to send an email and has not replied.
‘It’s been horrific,’ she continued.
‘We needed something to look forward to and this was massive for us and we might lose it all. It’s so stressful.
‘I will go down to the Passport Office and camp out if I have to. I would go to the end of the earth for my girls.
‘I just cannot face telling them it’s off. They would just be absolutely devastated if they cannot go.’
Sharing Mrs Burton’s agony is another widow, Jayne Docherty, and her six-year-old daughter, Layla, who will join them in Disneyland and are also waiting for their passports.
Mrs Burton added: ‘She lost her husband three days before mine and we were all going together. What do I do if we get them back and they don’t? Go without them?’
A Home Office Passport Office spokeswoman said: ‘Our thoughts are with Mrs Burton and her family at this difficult time. We are urgently reviewing this case and will ensure the family receive their passport in time for their trip.
‘Since April 2021, we have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport as more than five million people delayed applying due to the pandemic.
‘We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passports applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks.
‘To deal with this demand, we have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.’
Meanwhile, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) puts the blame for delays on ‘inefficiencies’ in the government department and more demand after a return to international travel post-Covid.
Now that international travel is back to normal, the number of people applying for passport renewals has surged and just under one million holidaymakers are at risk due to the delays.
It comes as the Passport Renewal website also crashed and the urgent passport service also would not let you book an appointment online or by telephone last week.
A passport worker also told the i newspaper last week that the office is trying to hire 1,700 more staff, but ‘haven’t realised anything like that number’ due to difficulties recruiting on ‘low wages and temporary contracts’.