Yorkshire home for flood-hit Aussie kids

A freezing West Yorkshire winter is snow problem – when your home down under is knee-deep in floodwater and snakes.

Aussie exchange students Clayton Jepson and Jordan Thompson could be staying with families in Wakefield longer than expected.

For their home city of Rockhampton is one of Queensland's worst hit cities as the biggest floods to hit Australia for decades continue to blight the lives of around 200,000 people.

The boys, who are visiting Yorkshire as part of a rugby league exchange programme, have been staying with families of Outwood Grange Academy students since the end of November and were due to fly back to Rockhampton via Brisbane later this month.

But their plans have been be thrown into chaos by the floods in Rockhampton, which have seen the city's airport shut down.

Clayton, 17, spent time with Outwood Grange student Corbyn Kilday's family in Alverthorpe and is now staying with 16-year-old Wakefield Wildcats scholarship player Tom Middleton's family in Lofthouse Gate.

Clayton's parents and his 15-year-old brother Ryan have had to leave their home on a 10 acre cattle ranch due to the floods.

He said: "My mum says there is two foot of water going through our house and there are snakes everywhere. My mum and dad are staying with another family and The cattle have been moved to my grandparents land about 12 kilometres away.

He added: "I will have a house to go back to, but there will be a lot of cleaning up to do."

Jordan, 16, is staying with Outwood Grange Academy student Ben Parker's

family in Stanley.

Jordan said his family live in rural community Alton Downs on the outskirts of Rockhampton.

They haven't been flooded out yet but can't get out of their village, which is surrounded by floodwater.

Nicola Middleton, 43, of Lofthouse Gate, who is looking after Clayton, said: "He's spoken to his mother via a webcam on Skype and she put the camera to the window and showed us around the property. It's surrounded by floodwater, they've had to move everything onto the first floor.

"The floodwater has brought all the snakes and spiders out. His mother says when the water's gone they might have to get a couple of cats to kill the snakes. They had to move by dinghy to a neighbour's about three kilometres away, but they are fine and upbeat about it."

Mrs Middleton said both boys know their families back home are OK and are enjoying their stay in England.

She added: "They saw snow for the first time in their lives in December and were absolutely fascinated. They literally played outside for a week. Clayton asked me: What is it?" He'd only ever seen snow on television."

A group of seven Outwood Grange students are due to fly out to Rockhampton for an eight-week stay in July. Anyone who can help sponsor the trip can contact Mrs Middleton on 07764 254062.


Leeds nostalgia: The days when £100m seemed like a lot...