SLIDESHOW: Supporters battle to stop school caretaker’s deportation

Campaigners battling to stop a school caretaker from being deported say the race is on to gather as many signatures as they can.

Collingham Lady Hastings employee Portas Ongondo has lost two appeals against being sent back to Kenya because of the breakdown of his marriage.

Portas Ongondo with supporters. (1408054AM6)

Portas Ongondo with supporters. (1408054AM6)

In just a week the number of signatures on an electronic petition has risen by 455 to 665, with people from throughout the country, as well as local residents, contributing to the fight.

As people gathered in a village park on Tuesday afternoon to show their support, Mr Ongondo told the Wetherby News: “I was blown away to see all that crowd at the grounds all coming to support me.

“Since I was not able to meet people individually, I would like to thank everybody who managed to come and or do anything towards the support of the campaign.

“My special thanks to all the children both present and those away on holiday.

“It is because of the total support that I get encouragement and strength to continue.

“I must thank the media staff who kindly came to cover the campaign.”

The 55-year-old, who also has a part-time job at Wetherby’s Mercure hotel, has three adult sons - aged 19, 22 and 25 - and supporters claim the former UN worker needs to stay in the country to support them.

Many people have made comments on the electronic petition including former Collingham school pupil and village band member, Holly Heyes who said: “As a member of band I have seen how he goes “beyond the call of duty” helping us set up for performances, encouraging us when we were struggling with a difficult piece and giving up his time freely.”

Cheryl Guest said: “Despite his children being older, children rely on their parents throughout their lives and I’m sure they need him here.

“Immigration is a big issue at the moment but concerns are usually about those that drain our society not add to it, as in Mr Ongondo’s case. I fully support his efforts to remain in this country.

Supporter Claire Strachan told the News: “We have opened the petition to a wider audience and trying to get as many signatures as possible.”

She added that they also urgently need legal support to help with Mr Ongondo’s case.

“If anyone would like to come forward to provide additional and much needed legal support for this case, please contact us urgently,” said supporter Claire Strachan.

“This isn’t about ticking boxes on a form, it is about a persons right to stay with their family, a family much bigger than just his sons that includes the whole community, and he deserves another hearing.”

A wear yellow ribbons awareness drive was held on Yorkshire Day last Friday with supporters tweeting pictures and some can be seen on these pages.

A Home Office spokesman said yesterday that all appeal rights had been exhausted and Mr Ongondo has no outstanding applications with the courts.

They added: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.”

People can sign the petition at and follow the campaign on