Neil flees Oz floods

Neil Whittaker with his mother, Annie.

Neil Whittaker with his mother, Annie.

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Fears for her son’s safety as he was caught up in Australian floods were allayed for Annie Whittaker - when he turned up alive and well at Wombwell.

Former Darfield miner Neil Whittaker surprised his mum for her eightieth birthday by popping out from behind a pub bar.

The 50-year old left his flooded house in Queensland to stick to the surprise visit that was planned with brother Ian some months previously.

After struggling to reach an airport that was open - his nearest one at Rockhampton being totally flooded, Neil and partner Steff (formerly of Great Houghton) flew from the scenes of devastation caused by what one police officer described as an “inland tsunami”.

Raised at Jump, Neil followed the Australian dream to the mines of Queensland some 14 years ago, although daughter Zoe stayed at Great Houghton. His flood story features with that of former Conisbrough man Steve Nadin on page nine.