Chernobyl children enjoy an 11th visit

CHILDREN affected by the Chernobyl disaster are enjoying their 11th visit to the Ribble Valley.

Visiting from the city of Mogilev in Belarus, the children are enjoying a four-week long visit thanks to the Clitheroe Branch of the Friends of Chernobyl Children.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

The shocking incident happened on April 26th, 1986, when the number four reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power station situated in the Ukraine overheated and exploded.

The deadly cloud blew northwards and 80% of the fall-out covered the Republic of Belarus with intensive radioactivity.

Residents were exposed to radiation 300 times greater than released by the explosions of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it will be another 24,000 years before the land is deemed safe. Since the mid-nineties Ribble Valley residents have been opening their hearts and homes to children from Mogilev, an area that was hugely affected by the fall-out from the accident.

The annual trips to the Ribble Valley give children the chance to escape their home city's contaminated atmosphere and improve their immune system.

Just a month breathing "clean" air and eating good food during their visits to the Ribble Valley has been found to improve their health dramatically.

The group of 17 children, who are accompanied by two interpreters and have been in the Ribble Valley for almost two weeks now, are enjoying a wide ranging programme of activities.

These include day trips to Blackpool, the Forbidden Corner, Harewood House and Manchester Science Museum. Visits to four local schools, Ribblesdale Pool, Roefield Leisure Centre, Danceworks, Waddow Hall, Chipping's Wild Boar Park and canoeing in Chatburn have also been organised.

Other trips will be to White Scar Caves at Ingleton, Blackburn's Wavelengths, a shoe factory, a barge trip and a visit to a farm.

These visits are complemented most mornings by lessons and games, which are based at Clitheroe's United Reformed Church.

In addition, the children will be entertaining residents at Corbridge Court and Bowland Court, while a special service for the children, together with young people from the parish, will be held at St Paul's Church, Low Moor.

A farewell party will be hosted by St Michael and St John's Social Club.

Members of the Friends of Chernobyl Children have expressed their gratitude to the many individuals, churches and organisations such as Rotary, Lions, the Round Table and Lancashire County Council for the use of minibuses during the visit.