Friends in deed
NICOLA Dunklin has been amazed at the response after setting up a branch of the Friends of Chernobyl s Children. After an evening to explain the charity at Melbourn Village College, she said: The night itself went well, with more than 40 people attending
NICOLA Dunklin has been amazed at the response after setting up a branch of the Friends of Chernobyl's Children.
After an evening to explain the charity at Melbourn Village College, she said: "The night itself went well, with more than 40 people attending.
"I've had people coming forward to help ever since and I couldn't have wished for a better response. It has been quite amazing. "
The charity devotes its energies to increasing support and funds to help bring children from areas at risk around Chernobyl to the UK for a month every year.
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The purpose of the evening was to launch a branch in south Cambridgeshire and to raise awareness and potential support for the charity.
"I wanted to see what the support was like in the community, to see how many people we would have who would be interested in helping with the programme.
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"So far everyone has been fantastic," said Nicola, who works at Melbourn Village College and Tesco.
"We have now been able to put together a band of enthusiastic people who are willing to commit to the charity.
"We have already had 15 families come forward who have offered to look after children. The next step is to raise funds for them."
The Star and Black Horse pubs in Melbourn are already fund-raising, as is the village college, Tesco, and Meldreth Primary School.
Nicola's commitment to the charity came after witnessing the harrowing images from the nuclear disaster in 1986, when 100,000 people were evacuated from Chernobyl.
The nuclear accident released 190 tons of highly radioactive waste material into the atmosphere, exposing the people of Chernobyl to radioactivity 90 times greater than that from the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Several million people still live in contaminated areas.
Although only two people died as a direct result of the blast, a recent Greenpeace report estimated that it could eventually cause more than 250,000 cancer cases - nearly 100,000 of them fatal.
Nicola, 38, has lived in Melbourn for eight years, and her children Pheobe, 10, and Dominic, eight, are determined to play their part.
She said they were "very excited and have already raided their piggy banks and donated clothes. They've learned children don't need a GameBoy but do need clothes and shoes.
"Having a child over here for just four weeks can help extend their life expectancy by up to two years.
"Being involved and having a child will change you forever. It's a real chance to do some good for someone who really needs it. With the launch of the new branch it's a chance for people to help make a difference.
"It's been bigger than I could have imagined and the support that we've had already has been unreal. There has been a real sense of community with everyone pulling together.
"I started off feeling like a one-man band - now I feel I have a force to be reckoned with and a team of people that are going to make a huge difference, but this is a long-term project and we have a long way to go," she said.
Anyone who would like to become involved can call Nicola Dunklin on 01763 220651.
For more details on the Friends of Chernobyl's Children visit the website at www.focc.org.uk