Singing lady wins last gasp deportation hope

Gwen Roomes
Gwen Roomes
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CITY centre singer Gwendolyn Roomes has been given a last-minute reprieve so Home Office inspectors can take another look at her deportation case.

Gwen, aged 59, who is known to thousands of shoppers and office workers for her hymn-singing in the city centre, was due to be flown back to the country of her birth today.

Now staff at the United Kingdom Borders Agency have agreed to have another look at her application for the right to remain in this country after discovering part of her paperwork was missing.

But Gwen, from Jamaica, is still being held in a detention centre in London until her case has been considered.

Her family and friends are calling for her to be allowed home to Eckington while her application is considered.

And a new Facebook group, called Free The Singing Lady, has gained 1,400 members since The Star broke news of Gwen’s plight on Tuesday.

Shelly Burrell, 31, a youth worker from Broomhall who set up the group, said: “I only know her from seeing her sing in town. She has done nothing but contribute to our community and the people of Sheffield want her to stay.”

Self-proclaimed street minister Gwen, who attends the city’s New Testament Church of God, arrived in Sheffield as a supply teacher in 2002 by invitation of the Government’s Highly Skilled Migrant Programme at a time of teacher shortages in the UK.

Protocol Education, a service which places overseas teachers in Britain, allocated her to Myrtle Springs School and she went on to work in over 20 local schools.

She has not been allowed to teach since her visa expired and she cannot claim benefits, and lives with the support of family and friends.

Two of her children and three of her grandchildren are in Sheffield.

Gwen told The Star: “I have been told my application had gone to the wrong department but has now been found and will be looked at.

“In the meantime they have cancelled my ticket back to Jamaica.

“I think I have been lost in the Home Office system. I am hoping and praying this can be sorted out. I am traumatised by it.

“Everything has been up and down for days. I can’t rest, I can’t sleep.

“And I am concerned about my family because I know how worried they are.

“I’d like to thank everyone who is trying to help me. I am so grateful.”

The UK Borders Agency declined to comment.