Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 11:31 UK

Fundraiser buys Patagonia tickets

Evelyn Calcabrini and Shirley Edwards
Friends hope Evelyn Calcabrini and Shirley Edwards can return by August

Friends of two Patagonian women refused entry to the UK say a concert has raised enough money for the pair to buy new plane tickets to try again.

Immigration officials had refused to believe Shirley Edwards and Evelyn Calcabrini, 20, were travelling to Wales to learn Welsh.

A concert in a chapel in Nant Peris, Gwynedd, raised more than £1,600.

Campaigners say they hope the pair will be allowed in in time for the National Eisteddfod at Bala in August.

Folk singer Dafydd Iwan headlined Saturday night's fundraising event in aid of the two women, which also included a reading of Welsh Patagonian poetry.

Both women were heading for north Wales to stay for six months to help improve their Welsh when they landed at Heathrow Airport on separate days in May.

Ms Edwards was planning to stay with her sister, Erica Roberts, who is married and lives in Tremadog, Gwynedd.

People from here have family and friends over there and there is a big connection between Wales and Patagonia, so we had a lot of support
Erica Roberts, sister of Shirley Edwards

Ms Calcabrini was heading to Glyndyfrdwy, Denbighshire, to stay with a couple, Eos Griffiths and his Patagonian-born wife, Carina.

Each was told they could not stay in the UK and was sent home.

The UK Border Agency later said it ran a "firm and fair" system.

Ms Calcabrini's case was discussed in the Commons when Plaid MPs Elfyn Llwyd and Hywel Williams, as well as Conservative MP Davies Davies, raised the issue during Welsh questions.

'Connection'

Concert organiser Eilian Williams said the money raised would be enough to buy new plane tickets for the two women but the fundraising would continue to gather more for other travel costs.

He said: "We shouldn't have to go to all this trouble really, it's only because of the attitude of the Home Office.

He said supporters wore green armbands at the concert to show their solidarity with the pair.

Ms Roberts said: "People that know about this are very supportive and are saying how terrible this is because of the connection between Patagonia and Wales.

"People from here have family and friends over there and there is a big connection between Wales and Patagonia, so we had a lot of support."



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