A decorated former RAF squadron who was part of the Windrush generation was separated from his wife and young son for two-and-a-half years.
Pensioner Winston Dorman (73) from Werrington suffered after his wife Marva (46) and two-year-old son Nathan were deported from the UK to Jamaica, despite Nathan being born in England.
The strain the former serviceman went through was then compounded when he was told by the Home Office he was not a British citizen despite coming to the UK when he was a teenager and serving in the air force for nine years, for which he won a medal.
He also has a National Insurance number, worked through his life until retiring and had a release book from the RAF detailing when he joined the service.
Hard-working Mr Dorman was later granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, which led to Marva and Nathan returning to Peterborough, and he said he has now been told by the Home Office that the family will be granted British citizenship.
Reflecting on his family’s treatment, he said: “It’s not nice. I get so emotional every time I think about it.
“The two-and-a-half years my son spent in Jamaica will be with him for the rest of his life. The strain it put on us was unbelievable. How in their right mind could they send a child back?
“Sometimes when I’m in bed at night I think to myself ‘why did this have to happened?’ It should never have happened.
“I’m not a criminal and I’ve never been in any trouble. How could this happen? It hurts. They want to keep immigration down but they’re picking on the wrong people.”
The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have both apologised for the treatment of Commonwealth migrants who came to the UK decades ago but are being threatened with deportation.
Mr Dorman, who is now chair of the Afro Caribbean Millennium Centre in Dickens Street, came to England in 1959 aged 15 to live with his mother. He joined the RAF in March 1962, three months before his native country was granted independence from the United Kingdom, and served for nine years.
This included touring Aden in Yemen. “I did not need any passport to travel,” he said.
Mr Dorman then held several jobs including putting machinery together at Perkins and driving buses for Stagecoach.
He said: “When it became necessary for me to have my passport to travel I was told if I went out the country I would not be able to come back. I said ‘that’s rubbish I’m a British citizen, how can that be?’
“They said ‘you’re not, you’re Jamaican’. In 2006 I applied for citizenship. I told them the month I came to England.
“They said they could find no mention of me coming into the country at that time.”
Winston’s wife Marva also came from Jamaica to Peterborough. Winston met her when she was a student at Peterborough Regional College, but when she gave birth to their son Nathan three months prematurely in 2004 she could not go into college.
Marva did not need a visa to come to the UK, according to Winston, but she was granted a student visa to study at the college. However, when she was ready to return to the college in 2007 an application to renew her visa was denied and she was told by the Home Office she had go back to Jamaica with no right of appeal.
“She went on a flight for nine hours to Jamaica,” said Mr Dorman. “She got there at 5.30 in the afternoon but did not leave the airport until 12.30am. They would not let my son in the country because they were saying he is English. They wanted to put him back on the plane the same day.”
Once mum and son were allowed to leave the airport they found a room to share with three other people, but as they did not have family around Mr Dorman was forced to work extra long hours as a bus driver to rent them a place to stay and to keep the family home in Werrington.
He said: “I worked double shifts every day for two-and-a-half years. I changed short shifts for long shifts. I woke up at 4am and worked until 9-10pm. The strain and stress - I don’t know how I survived.”
The ordeal finally came to an end in 2006 when Mr Dorman was given leave to reman in the UK. He then went out to Jamaica to get married to Marva, which meant she could return to the UK with Nathan. The paperwork and flights cost thousands of pounds, but that did not compare to the anguish the family had been through.
Husband and wife had only been able to speak by phone for 24 months, and then five-year-old Nathan was unprepared for primary school.
Winston added: “It’s been a long road and it’s been nothing but hurt all along. A lot of my closest friends did not know the road I had travelled.
“It’s unacceptable how they treated people that came here. There are 60-70 year-old grannies they are sending home to Jamaica.