Chernobyl kids get a bird’s eye view of our city

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TAKING a break from their lives in Chernobyl, 12 children visited the Spinnaker Tower.

Seeing the city from the best vantage point, the children enjoyed a bird’s eye view of places they’d visited in and around Portsmouth.

HIGH TIME Chernobyl children outside the Spinnaker Tower

HIGH TIME Chernobyl children outside the Spinnaker Tower

The children have been in Portsmouth for the past four weeks receiving respite care.

In Chernobyl, their food, drink and air are contaminated leading to health problems.

Taking time away from their homes can help slow down their illnesses.

The visit to the tower was organised with help from Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

The council leader asked the council if the group could go up the tower for free.

Members agreed and it was the first time the organisers have been able to give the children such a treat.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I thought it was important for the children from Chernobyl to visit the Spinnaker Tower.

‘It is quite an expensive thing to do so it is fantastic they have been able to see the city at its greatest.’

The children, aged 10 to 12, come to Portsmouth annually and Marian Stapley, chairman of the Portsmouth and Hayling Island link of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, thinks the visits are a great way for the Russian youngsters to learn new things.

She said: ‘The four weeks the children spend here is just amazing for them.

‘They learn so much and when they leave it is always with mixed emotions.

‘Obviously they want to get home and see their family but they have so much fun in Portsmouth doing new things.

‘They get a break from contaminated food, air and water and it gives their bodies a break.

‘Unfortunately they have no choice but to eat and drink the contaminated stuff because there’s nowhere else for them to go.

‘But we have been organising these trips for eight years and you see the benefits it gives the kids.

‘It is a lot of hard work on our end with the costs and finding families to look after them. But it is worth every minute.’

The children also visited St Vincent College, in Gosport, and Fareham fire station.