A Dunstable mother is sending a huge thank you message to the town after fundraisers rallied round to help her stay in the UK.
Helen Damisa, who lives with her four children, was in a race against time to find £2,500 by November in order to be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
As a hard-working single mother, Helen saved all the money she could but was still struggling to meet her target.
However, determined not to be defeated, she set up an online donation page, while her friends spread the word and pals Natalie Martin and Kelly Lynch organised a cake sale and raffle.
Now, four months on, Helen contacted the Gazette to tell readers the good news.
She said: “I want to let you know that I have been granted my UK settlement visa and want to thank you for the support through my darkest hour. I would like to thank Dunstable for standing by us.
“Words are not enough to describe my appreciation, and may our ever faithful God bless everyone, amen.”
Helen came to the UK from Nigeria in 2002 as her then partner moved here for work, and she relocated to Dunstable seven years ago.
The children were born in London, but after her former partner had to go back to Nigeria in 2011, Helen had since been applying for leave to remain.
Helen said: “Dunstable has blessed me and my children immeasurably; we are at peace, have made wonderful friends, and our children are doing well at school, shaping their future.
“We are all so pleased; words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling!
“I sincerely appreciate every single person’s support.
Dunstable has made the children and I feel so proud.”
Helen would also like to thank Dunstable’s Icknield Lower School, Sedgewall organisation staff, Isabel Lyons, TWP flooring, Dragon City Restaurant, and other enterprises which contributed to the raffle. She would also like to thank her friends from London.
Helen concluded: “The cake sale and the raffle draw raised £300 plus and the GoFundMe page raised £645.
“I did not reach my target but was overwhelmed by the show of love from everyone, and some Icknield mums baked cake to support the cake sale.
“I was speechless the day I received my settlement.
“The postman came and asked me to sign, but the envelope was quite different so I could not guess where it was from - not until I opened it. My joy and relief was indescribable!
“Words are not enough to show my appreciation to everyone that walked with me in the darkest part of my life. But from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all and may God remember you all with a special gift, amen.
“When the stars were misty and silent you all were my light and voice!”
Helen is now saving money to have two of her children naturalised (the eldest has already been naturalised) and the family celebrated the wonderful news by enjoying some pizzas.