Against a fair few odds, I think, family and I had watched my 60th birthday roll in at the beginning of October 2009. Obviously, it was a low key celebration, and, to be honest, having received no birthday cards from family in the UK – a parcel of cards was en route from Champagnac, but it didn’t arrive until several days after my birthday – I was feeling rather quiet. Tom and I had also celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary just days before. 2009 will forever be known by us as the celebrations year that wasn’t!
However, by March 2010, I was still not receiving my pensions, and the rest of our savings were gushing away like water out of a broken pipe! I had applied for my pensions in June 2009. Not receiving any acknowledgement by August 2009, as I had requested, I wrote to enquire if that large brown envelope had arrived. I heard nothing, so I telephoned Newcastle. The large brown envelope had not been received! “Complete it on-line.” advised the very pleasant lass on the other end of the phone. I tried three times using the on-line service, without success, my application just wasn’t accepted, so I downloaded the documents and tried again. It was fortunate that I had an extra copy each of my Birth Certificate and Tom’s and my Marriage Certificate.
By the end of October 2009, I still had not received acknowledgement, so I telephoned Newcastle yet again and spoke with another pleasant lass. Once more, I was advised that the large brown envelope had not arrived. I then had to wait for more copies of Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate, before I could re-apply for my pensions.
At the end of January 2010, Tom physically took the next big brown envelope filled with documents to a JobCentre Plus near his youngest brother’s home in London! Incredibly, when I telephoned towards the end of March, having not received an acknowledgement, a very pleasant lass advised me that my pensions application, and formal documents, had indeed arrived on her desk, but they had then “been misplaced.”!
By that time, I was feeling rather upset by the fiasco, and I contacted the office of (then) MEP Caroline Lucas. Her PA was horrified and told me she would pass all details to Caroline within 24 hours – Caroline Lucas was, at that time, preparing to represent the Green Party at the forthcoming General Election, and she was only days away from stepping down as an MEP in order to become an MP/Leader of the Green Party for England and Wales. I have never voted for the Green Party, yet, Caroline Lucas took up the fight for my pensions – and, whether the threat alone was enough, I don’t know, but Newcastle went into overdrive and I received my pensions backlog within days! Touch wood, my pensions have continued to arrive in the UK bank account every four weeks since then. But, it was a very close shave!
At this point, I would just like to acknowledge the unconditional help, support and kindness of two close friends, ie Diane and Natalie; without them, food and medication would have been very scarce during two weeks, specifically! The words, ‘thank you’, are never enough, but those two little words come from the hearts of family and me.
Buoyed up and in fighting mode, I emailed our avocat, Alexandra, and I asked her if she would please ‘look over’ our application to the European Court of Human Rights, before I posted it to Strasbourg. By the beginning of June, we had not received a response, and we never did receive a response! I posted the application.
A few days later, we received a brief notice from the ECHR, Strasbourg, to say our application had been filed at the Court on 10th June 2010, Tom’s 64th birthday.