GERMAN students had an extraordinary welcome to Hastings when they were forced to spend Monday night in the town hall after the freak weather conditions meant their host families were unable to collect them.
Continuous snow throughout the day made many roads in the town impassable and when a large party of 400 from Senlac Tours arrived in 10 coaches from Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden, many local host families were unable to get to the coach pick-up point leaving 120 students stranded in sub-zero temperatures after a 15-hour journey.
With no other accommodation readily available, Hastings Borough Council opened up the town hall, and the remaining students, most between 15 and 17 years of age, spent the night camped out in the council chamber, council offices, and even corridors.
Several council staff themselves spent the night in the town hall, along with the teachers, to ensure the students were made as comfortable as possible, providing them with hot drinks and then breakfast the next morning.
Kevin Boorman, the council’s head of communications and marketing, said: “I’ve seen the council chamber used for many things but never this. It was quite an adventure for them as for many it was their first trip to England. They were taking pictures of each other in the council chamber.”
As the students are only in England for a week, they continued with their planned trip to London on Tuesday morning. It was expected that they would all have a bed to sleep in come Tuesday night.
Kevin added: “It’s great that we’ve been able to step in and help, and I know the students, their teachers and the coach drivers really appreciate it. They have gone on their way with a really exciting start to their English tour.”