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Schoolchildren refused entry to India after a volunteer visa row

The 16 pupils and three teachers from Poynton High had to return home with gifts meant for children at a home in India.

A group from Poynton High School were refused entry at Chennai Airport

School children visiting India on a voluntary mission have been left heartbroken after they were turned away by airport officials.

The 16 students and three staff from Poynton High School had made the long haul from Manchester to India, but were refused entry into the country at Chennai Airport.

Officials claimed their visas were invalid because they were going to be undertaking work with a non-governmental organisation, which mean the heartbroken students had to return to the UK armed with the toys and other items they were planning on taking to an orphanage.

Headteacher David Waugh said the school was “shocked and saddened”.

The school has been fundraising for the charity India Direct for the past 12 years and raised more than £30,000 to help establish and run two children’s homes.

And there has already been three successful trips - in 2009, 2011 and 2014 - to perform voluntary work.

Mr Waugh said: “The PHS India Project is part of the DNA of our school. The students and staff have raised thousands of pounds to support this trip and to sponsor the young children in the homes through every fundraising means possible. From car washing, to bag packing, from Christmas cards to barn dances and from pub quizzes to charity BBQs.

“As you can imagine, the staff and students are in a state of tired shock having travelled for 48 hours as a round trip. Once they have managed to rest a full debrief of the situation will take place and we will take this matter up at the highest of levels.”

 

Macclesfield MP David Rutley has pledged to get answers from the Foreign Office and to the Indian High Commission.

He said: “I was very disappointed to hear that Poynton High School pupils were denied entry to India to do volunteer work at an orphanage.

“This has been a distressing and difficult experience for staff, pupils and parents, and they rightly want an explanation as to why they were turned away.

“I am in contact with the Foreign Office and to the Indian High Commission, to try help them get those answers, and will continue to follow up as a priority.”

The group flew out on Monday, July 17 and had to return home on Wednesday, July 19.

The plan was for students to visit the childrens homes, play with the children and to paint a mural.

The Express has approached the Indian High Commission for comment.

 

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