Grantham student Maddie visits Japan after mad dash for passport

Maddie Howell with two Japanese women dressed in traditional costume on her visit to Japan.
Maddie Howell with two Japanese women dressed in traditional costume on her visit to Japan.
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A pupil at KGGS almost missed out on the trip of a lifetime to Japan when she lost her passport.

Maddie Howell managed to get a replacement document just hours before her departure after a dash to the passport office in Durham the day before she was due to leave.

Maddie, 18, of Foston, was due to go on a school exchange trip to the Far Eastern country but it was cancelled following the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant two years ago. The trip was put on again in March, although the KGGS girls were not able to travel to the part of the country where they hoped to stay with the pupils of the school they are twinned with.

It was three days before she was due to leave that Maddie realised her passport was missing. Maddie’s mother Penny, 50, contacted Her Majesty’s Passport Office and they got an appointment the day before departure.

Maddie said: “I was completely distraught at the thought of not being able to go to Japan but they really pulled out all the stops. In the end the passport was ready in less than four hours and I had it for my flight the next day. It was my dream to go to Japan and the culture, the architecture and the food were amazing. Without the kindness of HMPO staff it wouldn’t have happened and I’m really grateful to them.”

In Japan the KGGS students met pupils from their twin school for a few days, saw the sights in Tokyo and stayed in a rural and more traditional part of the country. Maddie was unable to meet up with the Japanese student who had stayed with her in England because he has moved to Canada.

In Tokyo Maddy saw the Imperial Palace, the markets and a Japanese Bonsai garden. She is fascinated by Japanese art and was able to use photos she took in the country for an exam project as part of her A-level art and design course. She aims to go to university in Sheffield to study architecture.

HMPO area operations manager Ian Forster said: “I am glad the trip was such a success and we were able to help make it happen.”