Andy Poole was denied the chance to whisper a final farewell to his much-loved twin sister as she lay dying in a Spanish hospital.
But, with help from The Spalding Guardian, he is in Spain today attending the funeral service he feared he would miss.
Andy (43), from Holbeach St Johns, found out on Friday that his sister, Kelly Stacey, was fatally ill.
The shock news broken by his dad, Mick (78), dropped as a bombshell, but Andy was unable to jump on a plane because he couldn’t get his passport – which expired only last month – renewed in time.
Kelly died late on Monday afternoon, plunging Andy into a race against time to make it to her funeral.
Andy’s wife, Sam, contacted The Spalding Guardian on Monday night to see if we could help.
She said: “My husband’s sister has died, unfortunately, and her funeral is Thursday. He has to be there to say goodbye. We are now desperate for any help. We have called The Home Office, British Embassy, John Hayes, The Sun – anyone and everybody.
“We are asking and begging for help.”
Sam said on Tuesday the news of Kelly’s unexpected death – believed to be from a liver complaint – hadn’t properly sunk in with Andy.
She said: “He just wants to be with his family, to see his mum and his dad, and just be with them.”
The couple spent the weekend frantically calling the Passport Office but didn’t speak to anyone until 5pm on Sunday, when they were offered an appointment for tomorrow (Friday), which they knew would be too late for Andy to see Kelly alive.
As things turned out, it was also too late for Kelly’s funeral service.
The Pooles jumped through hoops to confirm “compassionate grounds” for an emergency passport.
The Passport Office wanted a letter from the hospital written in English to prove Kelly was dying, but the hospital wouldn’t fax it to the UK – a family member emailed it to Sam and then she faxed it to the Passport Office.
The hospital also wanted a copy of Andy’s passport.
Following The Spalding Guardian’s calls on Tuesday to a Home Office press spokesman, Andy was offered an appointment before 1pm that day – received his passport in the afternoon – and was on the plane that night.
Shortly after 10pm on Tuesday, Sam emailed us: “He’s on the plane WOOP WOOPxx.”
Andy’s parents, Mick and Pat, live in Spain and Kelly, who worked for Geest in Spalding for a number of years, moved there a few years ago.
Andy and Kelly lived in Spalding as children, moved to Gedney Hill, and were at school together at St Guthlac’s in Crowland.
Kelly was due to return here in August to attend a big family wedding.
Andy said on Tuesday he was desperate to say goodbye to Kelly at the service and to help his parents.
He said: “Mum and dad lost my younger brother four years ago this Christmas and he was only 30 so I am the baby now. I am trying to get out to help them.”