A DARLINGTON couple are free to travel the world after their despair turned to relief when delays issuing one of them a passport were resolved.

The Northern Echo last week reported on the frustration experienced by Cambodian-born Samik Hewison, a naturalised British citizen, who has had a long wait for her first British passport to be issued.

Mrs Hewison, 40, of Craig Street, married her husband, 55-year-old Melvyn, in 2007.

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She attended a citizenship ceremony at Darlington town hall last year, but had to attend an interview with the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in November, to verify her identity before the document was issued.

Delays in the usual six-to-eight weeks it takes for passports to be issued followed after IPS officials said an interpreter was needed to help Mrs Hewison communicate, even though she has been learning English for six years.

The couple’s frustration came to an end on Monday (February 25) afternoon, when Mrs Hewison’s passport arrived by recorded delivery.

They are now free to plan holidays abroad.

Mr Hewison said: “I want to show my wife the world and have not been able to do that before, but now I can.

“It is as though a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders, we had been having sleepless nights and anguish and hopefully that is over now.

“We have been through a lot of emotional stress and the relief we both felt on Monday was quite overwhelming.

“It is nice to know I can now just go on the internet and book us a week in Tenerife and not have to worry about it.

“Samik has got the biggest smile on her face that I’ve ever seen - it’s great to see.”

Mr Hewison believes an article about the couple’s plight, which featured in The Northern Echo last week, may have sped up the process of issuing the passport.

He said the IPS contacted a friend of the family who had vouched for Mrs Hewison’s identity during the application process, after the story was published.

He said: “I honestly believe the story helped, it just seems funny that the issue was resolved so soon after the story appeared.”

Mr Hewison also thanked Darlington MP Jenny Chapman for her help highlighting the issue.