Chernobyl children taste new way of life

PUBLISHED: 10:29 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 14:49 12 May 2010

Kath Holt, customer 
manager at Tesco, with two of the youngsters.

Kath Holt, customer manager at Tesco, with two of the youngsters.

By JOANNE JARVIS DISADVANTAGED children embarked on a life changing experience on Sunday. Sixteen youngsters who are victims of the world s worst nuclear power accident arrive

A wide-eyed youngster browses the aisles at Tesco.

By JOANNE JARVIS

joanne.jarvis@archant.co.uk

DISADVANTAGED children embarked on a life changing experience on Sunday.

Sixteen youngsters who are victims of the world's worst nuclear power accident arrived from orphangers and underprivileged homes in Belarus.

Families from Melbourn, Royston, Meldreth, Heydon and Duxford are acting as host families for the Cambridgeshire branch of the Friends of Chernobyl's Children (FOCC) charity.

During their four-week stay they will be visiting Woburn Safari Park, Duxford Imperial War Museum, and Willersmill with all companies offering free admission.

The seven and eight-year-olds will also receive free dental and optical check-ups and will be put on a 12-month course of multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants.

On Monday the children visited Tesco in Royston for new pairs of shoes which the store donated - and they were the first customers in the store's new cafe.

Tesco manager Stuart Eyres said: "Nicola Dunklin, founder of the FOCC, is one of our employees, so when she came to me and asked if we would support the charity I agreed and we are delighted to make such a donation.

"It's an honour to have them here."

Mrs Dunklin of Medcalfe Way, Melbourn said: "People have been very generous. It's just been incredible.

"So far the children have been superb and we have already got lots of funny stories.

"The visit will significantly extend their lives. With some fresh air and eating non-contaminated food this will hopefully start their immune systems."

Jo Cheetham-Desmarais, of Melbourn, who is hosting one of the youngsters said: "I had this overwhelming feeling when I first saw them.

"This visit will greatly benefit them because by being over here for just four weeks a year and eating uncontaminated food the children's lives will be extended by two years each time."

Irina Natasha, a teacher from Belarus said: "We expected the children to be a bit homesick but they have settled well."

For more details visit the website at www.focc.org.uk

FACTFILE

# The Chernobyl nuclear power disaster happened in 1986

# The people of Belarus were exposed to radiation 300 times greater than that released by the explosions of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

# Since the incident there has been an increase of 800 per cent in the incidence of cancer in children living near the reactor

# It costs £400 to give a Belarusian child a month's recuperation in the UK

# The charity has spread to 31 different groups around the country

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