A COMMUNITY celebrated the christening of a baby girl who was born weeks after her mum faced being deported to China.

Amillia Faith Smith was baptised in front of friends and family at Lawford Church on Sunday.

The eight-month-old is the daughter of Dean and Grace Smith who were locked in a dispute with Home Offices bosses last year after Chinese national Grace had her third visa application thrown out.

Grace, who lives in Merivale Road, Lawford, was eventually granted a visa on “compassionate” grounds after the Home Office reversed its decision in September.

The visa application was granted after a community campaign to prevent Grace being deported collected nearly 4,000 signatures.

After the christening Dean thanked those who had help the his family win their battle to stay together in Lawford.

Dean said: “It was such an amazing day with all the friends and family there to witness our daughter’s christening, which would not have happened without all of their help and support last year.

“We are truly grateful, and we thought this was the way to thank everyone.”

The service in the church was led by Simon Heron and the celebrations continued at the Red Lion pub, in Manningtree.

Manningtree councillors Carlo and Val Guglielmi, who fought tirelessly for the couple and wrote to the former home secretary Amber Rudd last April, were made godparents.

Dean added: “Even now, people still come up to us and say ‘well done’ and how unjust the initial decision was.”

Dean and Grace met in China more than ten years ago when they worked at Shaanxi Normal University.

As a married couple the pair returned to England in 2015 when Mr Smith’s father was dying of cancer.

Grace’s initial visa bid was refused in February, 2018 and her second was rejected in March 2018 after suggestions the financial requirements were not met.

The couple received their third visa rejection last September, but the decision was overturned at the end of that month.

The couple said they will have to re-apply for another visa within two years.