A SCHOOLGIRL faces an anxious wait after the national passport crisis left her plans for a once-in-a lifetime charity expedition to Malawi hanging in the balance.
Kara McFadyen, 16, has worked tirelessly to raise cash for the £3500 trip and is due to fly out on Sunday.
But her passport application is one of 480,000 caught up in a UK-wide processing backlog which has forced a public apology from Paul Pugh, chief executive of HM Passport Office.
Kara was told yesterday that the crucial travel document will arrive on time, but has been left in a sweat just days before the trip gets under way.
Her parents first visited a post office in April to renew the Beeslack Community High School pupil’s passport – but were told they should wait a few weeks until their daughter qualified for an adult passport.
Worried mum and dad Lynn, 50, and Mark, 49, were given assurances that there would be no problems.
But after sending off the application on May 24, they are still waiting and were told recently that there were no guarantees it would arrive on time.
Kara said: “I’ve been waiting to go on the trip for a long time, so it’s really disappointing at this stage that I might not be able to go.
“I have worked so hard and it’s really hard for my parents because they are so stressed out, but they can’t really do anything more.
“I would feel so lucky just to get on the flight.”
The family have even sought political intervention, with Midlothian MP David Hamilton and MSP Christine Grahame making inquiries on their behalf.
And mum Lynn said the stress of the delay had taken its toll on Kara’s health.
She said: “Kara has had the flu the last week and been off school – she’s not really recovered and I think that’s down to the stress of the last few days.
“She’s been really emotional, but there would not have been this problem if it had been running as normal.”
Fourth-year pupil Kara, from Roslin, is one of 12 youngsters due to visit Malawi, where they will visit an orphanage, help build facilities at a secondary school for girls and undertake conservation work at a wildlife reserve.
Her teacher Mike Creamer, who is organising the trip, said it would be “a massive disappointment not just for her, but for the team of pupils and teachers” if Kara couldn’t go.
Ms Grahame said she had been left “very cross” to learn Kara’s parents had been told the application had been submitted on time.
Last night, after several calls from the Evening News to the Home Office, officials phoned Kara to assure her the passport would arrive in time.