New Briton welcomes ceremony

SOUTH African-born Karl Kroger is today a proud British citizen, happily living in his Ipswich home.Five years of filling in forms and meeting strict criteria were finally over, and the 32-year-old's new British passport meant he could travel freely again.

SOUTH African-born Karl Kroger is today a proud British citizen, happily living in his Ipswich home.

Five years of filling in forms and meeting strict criteria were finally over, and the 32-year-old's new British passport meant he could travel freely again.

But that life-changing, emotional minute was all too fleeting, and today many in his situation are waiting with interest for Suffolk to start holding special ceremonies - like those enjoyed by others the very next day, at places across the UK.

At the first citizenship ceremonies, immigrants sang the National Anthem under the Union Flag. The first event attended by the Prince of Wales, saw 16 people take an oath of allegiance to the Queen and give a citizenship pledge.

Yet when Mr Kroger swore his allegiance, it was in a solicitor's office and not even his wife Chris could be there.

Today the couple are among the hundreds of people who are waiting with interest to hear when Suffolk will finally have such a ceremony.

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Mr Kroger, of Lysander Drive, Ravenswood, said: "Attending a formal event would definitely have made it feel like more of an occasion.

"For some people, gaining citizenship is very momentous. It is something people like me hope for, for so long. It's not necessarily easy to achieve. There is a certain criteria and a lot of people don't meet that criteria."

Information technology worker Mr Kroger said he swapped South Africa for a better lifestyle and work prospects, and a chance to travel the world.

He added: "My wife and I love Ipswich and Suffolk's rural location. I'm not a city person."

Mrs Kroger added: "It's an unbelievably emotional day when somebody receives their citizenship. For my husband, it marked the end of five years' hard work. In Ipswich there seems to be absolutely nothing to mark the occasion for people."

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