When they exchanged their wedding vows John Malpas and his bride Lizanne promised faithfully never to be apart.

Now the couple – largely inseparable since they first met in 2006 – face the harrowing prospect of being forced apart after Home Office mandarins ruled she can no longer live in the UK.

Unless there is a dramatic U-turn in the next few days, the 37-year-old woman, born in Zimbabwe but who renounced her citizenship, will have to say farewell to her husband – and quit their home on the Scots island of Arran.

She has been ordered to leave Britain by Friday or risk being detained and deported back to South Africa where she still holds a passport.

Last night Mrs Malpas broke her silence for the first time over her ordeal.

She revealed: “I keep waking up and hoping that it will all just disappear and that it has been a complete mistake. But sadly, not so far.

“What I can say, however, is that the whole community of Arran have been absolutely astonishing and amazing in their support for us.”

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Vowing to return as quickly as possible, she added: “There have been lots of hugs and tears over the last few days from everyone I meet. It is truly incredible the depth of feeling and support we have received.

“In fairness, I seriously doubt whether I would have managed to get through it all this far without this enormous love towards us and our plight.”

Indeed a petition launched contesting the UK Government’s decision to force her to leave her British-born husband has already attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

Mrs Malpas – who also goes by her maiden name of Zietsman – revealed plans to appeal immediately against the Home Office ruling as soon as she arrives in South Africa.

However, even if the case is fast-tracked, it could take at least six weeks before the case comes up for consideration, although hopes are high her application for a visa will then be granted quickly.

In the letter received by the couple in June 19 outlining the Home Office conclusion, it suggested Mr Malpas also quit the UK as well in order to provide emotional support to his wife. The couple moved to Arran in 2015 after visiting for a short break to clear their heads and figure out their next move.

Quickly falling in love with the island and its people, they decided to put all their savings into buying the Sandwich Station in Lochranza, which has now become one of the main tourist attractions.

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Mr Malpas, 37, explained the couple had been “living the dream”.

He said: “Since taking the shop on, the business has gone from strength to strength. We had to become VAT-registered early last year and everything continues to grow.

“We have a close relationship with many other businesses on Arrran, particularly George Grassie at the fantastic Blackwater Bakehouse who supplies us with vast quantities of world-class breads. We have also received enormous support from local farmers.”

The businessman said their dream came crashing down on Wednesday, June 19, after receiving a letter from the Home Office stating Mrs Malpas’s visa renewal had been refused – and she must cease working immediately.

Failure to comply would result in the business being automatically fined £20,000.

But worse still, she was informed she must leave the country – with no right of appeal while she remained in the UK.

“Words really cannot express the shock, pain and anger that one feels when the person you love and spend every minute with is torn away from you”, he admitted.

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Describing his wife as “gregarious and funny”, Mr Malpas believes the latest accounts from the business will demonstrate they can comfortably meet the necessary financial threshold figures required.

It is understood this was one of the reasons why the Home Office had declined the businesswoman’s initial visa request because they needed to prove sufficient earnings to support them both.

Last night a Home Office spokesperson said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with immigration rules.”

Patricia Gibson, the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said the case was the “latest in a long line” of people wanting to settle in Scotland but being denied the chance.

She said: “It honestly defies logic and something must be done urgently to correct this hostile environment being created by the government towards helping people settle in rural communities.”