Calderdale mum heads up UK home swap site

The Marsden family from Hebden Bridge
The Marsden family from Hebden Bridge

A FAMILY enjoyed their holiday so much that mum Kelly Marsden felt working for the company which enabled it would be a dream job and has decided to make career of it.

The Marsdens, of Hebden Bridge, had planned the holiday of a life-time, four weeks touring the west coast of the U.S.

But with budget a factor, they had to find a way of reducing expenses, particularly for accommodation - and they managed it all thanks to grandma, says Kelly, 43.

"My grandma Yvonne Cummings said ‘have a look at a home swap' and told me about a home exchange site.

"She had seen something about it on a TV programme where people swapped houses and said we should look into it.

"I went straight onto Google and it came up with Home Exchange.

"Much to my disbelief, we were able to link up with families in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who came here to Hebden!"

The American families using the Home Exchange site allowed the Marsdens -dad Chris, 44, 12-year-old Amber, Arabella, eight, and Anaisa, four, complete the Hebden-based holidaymakers - to use their homes while in turn releasing their home in the hills above Hebden Bridge to the U.S. families who fancied holidaying in Yorkshire on the same dates.

With a great deal of accommodation money saved and all home comforts, the Marsdens were able to make their way along the Pacific Coast Highway, having already previously booked their start and end points in Las Vegas.

"Initially we thought we would do two or three stops. We did four in the end - but the cost of bed and breakfasts was a lot more than we thought.

"We hadn't anticipated how expensive California is, especially for a family of five. It saved me an absolute packet. Having got our flights last January we went out to the States in August and we were able to enjoy a dream trip we had wanted for some time. We were out there four weeks, " said Kelly.

She was so impressed with the process, that she decided to take things further when the family were back in the UK, eventually landing the job after three interviews.

"I like the concept and wanted to know who ran the company, started in America, now based in Paris.

"I contacted the company's chief executive officer and asked if there were any openings. Since then I have become Home Exchange's UK rep, " she said.

She wondered initially how much interest there would be from American families for staying in a small Yorkshire town, but found no shortage of exchangers who liked the idea.

"I was a bit sceptical at first as to whether we would find anyone who had heard of Hebden Bridge. But it only took about three months to finalise my plans.

"We also got more offers. It enhanced out holiday experience -we stayed in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Since we got back families have Facebooked one another, " said Kelly.

Having now joined the company she is keen to promote it. Home Exchange has been going for 20 years and became more easily accessible with internet access becoming more common.

But, she says, she only found out about them thanks to her gran's chance remark.

She said the job is made easier by recommending something she had tried an found the experience a very positive one.

"I was a customer first but now I'm working for them, " she said.