KIND-HEARTED businesses in Morpeth have been thanked for doing their bit to support an afflicted group of children.
Certificates of appreciation have been awarded to the town branches of Specsavers and Marks and Spencer by the Morpeth and Wansbeck Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Link.
The four girls and six boys aged between nine and 11 spent a month with host families from across Morpeth and they enjoyed locally-based activities and trips to popular shops and attractions in Northumberland and Tyneside.
All 10 have been diagnosed with immune-system problems associated with the nuclear disaster of 1986 in the Chernobyl region of the Ukraine and the break also allowed them to enjoy clean air and water and good food.
Various people and firms supported them during their stay, including Ross Jennings, director of the Morpeth branch of Specsavers.
He gave them free eye tests followed by a pair of prescription reading and sunglasses each. Staff at the high street opticians also helped to give the children a day to remember, including the provision of goodie bags and balloons and playing games while they waited for their eye tests and frame fittings.
Mr Jennings said he and his staff were delighted to be able to help out, adding: “These children don’t have much through no fault of their own due to the consequences of an event that took place years before they were even born.
“It was the right thing to do and we were all so pleased to be able to give a little back to people who needed our help. I’m just happy that everyone had a great time.”
Lilian Nelson, Chair of Morpeth and Wansbeck Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Link which organised the trip, said: “I would like to thank Ross and his team for their kind help and generosity, which will make a big difference to the children’s lives.
“The children do not receive regular eye tests in their own country and if they do need treatment it is rarely done with modern equipment.
“One youngster called Vlad had been tested in the Ukraine in December and yet by the time he was tested at Specsavers, his prescription had significantly changed.”
At Marks and Spencer, the store gave the children a pair of new school shoes by raising £160 internally through staff events.
Mrs Nelson was joined by her husband Gerry and Les Sage, representing one of the trip’s main supporters, Morpeth Lions Club, to make the certificate presentation.
Commercial Manager at the store, Vicky Dinsley, said: “As soon as we were approached by the Morpeth Lions, we were eager to get involved in whatever way we could.
“The staff at M&S gave very generously and it was great to see the delight on the children’s faces as they tried on their new school shoes.”
During the visit, the children also enjoyed going along to Morpeth Fair Day, where the Chamber of Trade got free fairground ride tickets for them from the operator, a fire safety awareness session at Pegswood Fire Station, garden parties and a reception with Morpeth’s Mayor at Curiously Wicked in Sanderson Arcade.