Chernobyl kids have fun on south coast holiday

FUN Artem Zarytskyy, and Tolia Fedorenko, both 11, at Fratton Park
FUN Artem Zarytskyy, and Tolia Fedorenko, both 11, at Fratton Park

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BEAMING youngsters from the Ukraine and Belarus have enjoyed what Portsmouth has to offer during a month-long break.

The Portsmouth and Hayling Island Link of the Chernobyl Children Life Line Charity (CCLL) invited children aged between 10 and 12 to the city as part of an annual visit to the UK.

HOSING DOWN Vitia Kaganov with firefighter Matt Rolfe

HOSING DOWN Vitia Kaganov with firefighter Matt Rolfe

The charity says the aim of the visit is to boost the children’s immune system by giving them a break away from contaminated food, water and air, as well as providing them with fun-filled activities and visits.

Visiting Pompey’s Fratton Park ground was a highlight, which included a tour of the stadium. Photos taken on the tour were then used to create comic strips at the Pompey Study Centre.

Firefighters at Fareham fire station gave the youngsters the opportunity to get up close to the action.

Watch manager Simon Whelan arranged for the children to sit in an engine, dress in uniform, and enjoy demonstrations.

Rob Baker, vice chairman of the Portsmouth link of the CCLL, said: ‘The fact is by bringing the children over here for a month it gives them an extension of life for two years.

‘It’s about the development of their thyroids. Their food is contaminated at home but they come here and eat our fresh food. By week three you see a real difference in them. You can see they are a lot more bubbly and their well-being is enhanced.

‘Generally they are ordinary kids but most of them have one parent, and one of them has no parents.

‘It’s a social thing to get them out here and have a bit of cleansing.’

The charity relies on raising £8,000 every year to fly the youngsters over and stay with host families.

They have visits to the Isle of Wight and Hayling Island, and a tour of Monkey World in Dorset, to look forward to before heading home on July 4.

Mr Baker added: ‘It’s quite warming to see the support we get year after year.

‘Once the children go home, that’s when the fundraising starts again.’

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986 has left a devastating impact on the Ukraine and Belarus, with many children developing genetic blood disorders, thyroid and bone cancers, leukaemia and experiencing social hardship.

The charity was founded in 1991 before the Portsmouth link launched its branch 10 years ago.