A PREACHER and charity worker from Oswestry has made a declaration of his love this Valentine’s Day.
The Reverend Ross Rennie is fighting a campaign to be able to marry his Cambodian fiancee Huot Chanthoeun, 44, in the UK.
Despite suffering a heart attack shortly before the couple held a celebration of love ceremony in Cambodia in December, the 63-year-old has said he will do whatever it takes – even if he has to protest outside 10 Downing Street.
“I’d say it [the heart attack] was stress over this situation, not being able to do what everyone else considers normal; I think that was a big player in it,” Rev Rennie said.
He is under the care of a cardiologist at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and is on medication, but remains eager in his fight to marry his partner.
“I’m undeterred – I’m going to fight to the end,” he said.
The couple now have to apply again for Miss Chanthoeun to come to the UK to marry and then return to Cambodia, where it is illegal for a man over 50 to marry a Khmer woman.
Rev Rennie founded Cambodian Communities out of Crisis (CCC) in 1994 after visiting the country for the first time.
CCC’s projects include taking children off refuse tips and out of sex trafficking, as well as providing an education for youngsters in the country.
It also aims to fund a $7 million educational facility, the Timothy College and Business Institute.
Rev Rennie said that he would sign an affidavit saying that Ms Chanthoeun – who is a field director for the charity – would come to the UK to get married and then return to her home country.
He intends to spend six months in Cambodia and the rest of the year in England.
“All we’re really asking for is that we can get married legally and that she can have a legal document, which at the moment she doesn’t have,” he added.
The celebration was a ceremony that was accepted by Ms Chanthouen’s church community.
But he added: “It’s not recognised by our government, it’s not recognised by her government and all we’re asking for it the fundamental right to be married.
“I’m not asking to bring her to live in this country – she doesn’t want to live in this country; she says it’s too cold!”
Rev Rennie plans to take his case to the national and social media – while friends are circulating a petition that has garnered around 300 signatures so far.
The Home Office told Ms Chanthoeun on May 10 that her visa application had been rejected due to insufficient evidence that she fulfilled requirements and that there is no right to appeal.
Rev Rennie said that his partner would re-apply and outlined what he would do if the bid is unsuccessful.
“We will see what happens with the next process,” he said.
“If we get kicked back then that will be it, I’ll have to go for anything I can – even to the point that I have to personally go to London myself and stand outside Number 10 Downing Street and shame the Prime Minister.”
A Home Office has declined to comment further on the matter.