A GROUP of children who are among those suffering from the continuing effects of the Chernobyl incident have improved their health during a visit to Morpeth.
The four girls and six boys aged between nine and 11 spent a month with host families from across the town and they enjoyed locally-based activities and trips to popular shops and attractions in Northumberland and Tyneside.
All ten 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 allows them to benefit from clean air and water and good food.
They have had dental and optical checks followed by treatment where necessary — all staff gave their time and expertise without charge.
Food, clothing and visits to beauty spots and exhibitions were donated by a range of businesses and organisations.
Lilian Nelson, Chairman of Morpeth and Wansbeck Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Link Lilian Nelson which organised the trip, said: “The children had a wonderful time and their time here will help to build up their immune systems, keeping them healthy for up to two years.
“They will take home memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives and the great memories we have are of seeing them take delight in the everyday things we take for granted. These include seeing the children run into the sea at Bamburgh beach – they had never seen the sea and they loved it.
“They also learned new safety skills with the British Red Cross and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.
“The generosity of people has been overwhelming, from the lady who knitted a garment for each child and the lady who bought each child a new outdoor fleece to the staff at Newgate Dental Group who treated them for free. Dentists are rarely available to children in the region where these young people live and often the equipment used is antiquated.
“Morpeth Lions are our stalwart supporters and we must recognise the contribution of local businesses. It is difficult for me to single out any one person because so many people have helped to make this visit a success – we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the support of our children.”
The activities they enjoyed included the following.
Week one: Visit to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth; at Morpeth Fair Day, the Chamber of Trade acquired free fairground ride tickets for all the children from the operator; the ladies of St George’s Church facilitated a clothing shop at the church where the children could choose from clothing that had been collected through the year.
Week two: Tour of St James’s Park and the Discovery Museum in Newcastle as well as a Round the Twist play experience in Benton; free Sunday lunch arranged by Morpeth Lions and following eye checks, Specsavers’ Morpeth branch gave five pairs of glasses to children who needed spectacles.
Week three: Trips to Cragside near Rothbury and the Whitehouse Farm Centre near Stannington; there was a guided tour of the Hancock Museum in Newcastle; a boat trip to the Farnes was followed by fish and chips at Pinnacles Restaurant in Seahouses and a trip to the beach; a beach party and barbecue at Cresswell was organised by Dr Richard Quinby and his wife Isabel – the food was supplied by Moorhouse Farm Shop.
Week four: Fire safety awareness at Pegswood Fire Station followed by fish and chips at Carlos in Morpeth; Mayor’s reception at Curiously Wicked in Sanderson Arcade and new shoes at Marks and Spencer; day out at Alnwick Castle and Garden; garden party at Dave and Maureen Chambers’ home in Longhirst and a farewell party at Morpeth Comrades Club.
Mrs Nelson added: “We are already planning next year’s visit between Monday, June 2, and Monday, June 30, and we would love to hear from anyone who is interested in hosting children for this trip or helping in any other way.
“You can contact me by telephone on 01670 518773 or email nelsonlillian@google mail.com”