‘Last normal family holiday’ before mum’s cancer treatment axed due to passport delays

A mum hoping to getaway and enjoy some sun before starting cancer treatment was forced to cancel her family holiday after delays meant that her daughter’s passport didn’t arrive on time.

Amy Calderwood from Essex had planned a family holiday to Spain, which was going to be the family’s “last normal family holiday” before receiving treatment for cancer.

The mum-of-three received the devastating news about having breast cancer three weeks ago and will soon begin radiotherapy and treatments.

Their holiday was booked for July 15, with the family applying for her daughter Meredith’s passport on May 5 – over ten weeks before they were due to travel.

Though the holiday was booked before Amy found out about the cancer, the passport delay worsened the stress on the family.

Amy said: “I found it impossible to actually speak to someone to see where the application was at.”

Government guidelines state that passports usually arrive in 10 weeks after applying.

She added: “I got concerned after 8 weeks had passed and after an hour of being placed on hold, I eventually spoke to someone who said they were able to upgrade my application [through fast-track]”.

Amy agreed to pay £122 for a fast-track application, which usually takes a week to for the passport to arrive, with the passport office saying that she would receive a call in two weeks to pay for the service.

Amy waited but didn’t receive a call.

The family are unable to change the dates of their £2000 holiday due to Amy’s cancer treatment.

The mum-of-three said: “I don’t know if I will be well enough to go on holiday with my family next year.

“Right now though, before my treatment, I can pretend that the cancer doesn’t exist and I can play and jump in the pool with the kids, but next year, who knows if I’ll be able to do that.”

Amy and her family have tried “every single available option”, but have had to cancel their holiday with no way to get the cost back.

The devastated mum added: “We were desperately looking forward to having a relaxing week together with friends in Spain before our lives change forever.

“I’m so disappointed and upset by it all. This situation could have been avoidable.”

Amy added that trying to get a passport and paying over the phone is “a farcical setup”.

She said: “The system needs to change and be updated because it is ridiculous the way it is now. It’s bonkers, absolutely bonkers.”

A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Passport Office said: “On Wednesday [July 13] this passport application was prioritised so that the passport was printed and the customer was informed it was ready for collection on Wednesday evening, within our guided 10-week time frame.

“The overwhelming majority of applications are completed within 10 weeks, with 97.7 per cent of applications processed within that timeframe in the first half of this year.

“But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.”

There is currently a backlog of passport applications, with around one million applications being processed each month.

The Home Office advises that people should not book a holiday until they have a valid passport.