Bowhill is on itinerary for Chernobyl children

FOURTEEN Belarus children who live in the area which was contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster 22 years ago have arrived in the Borders for a month-long visit.

The 10 girls and four boys, aged between nine and 13, were met at Edinburgh Airport on Sunday afternoon by their host families.

It is estimated that by staying in a healthy climate such as the Borders for a month, the children's life expectancy can increase by two years.

The trip is the result of many months of hard work and fund-raising by the Borders link of Chernobyl Children Lifeline.

It is the fifth visit since the charity was set up in Stow in 2001.

The youngsters will be staying with families in Jedburgh, Peebles, Walkerburn, Ettrick Valley, Selkirk, Eyemouth, Fogo (near Duns), Tweedmouth, Seahouses and Belford. The translator will stay with families at Elibank, near Walkerburn, and Galashiels.

A packed schedule has been organised for the children who come from the Grodno region near the Polish border.

It includes visits to Galashiels fire station, meals at the Kingsknowes Hotel and McDonalds, both in Galashiels, Bowhill Country Park, Teviotdale Leisure Centre in Hawick, the Farne Islands and Scotia Kids in Galashiels. They will be attending a clothing exchange in Jedburgh on Tuesday when the youngsters will be given suitcases full of clothes donated by kind-hearted Borderers.

Borders link acting chairman Fraser Simm said: "I am very pleased to see the children arrive and I should like to thank the new committee for all their work since January, which meant that we did not have a lot of time to arrange this year's visit.

"As only one of the families has hosted before, this will be a new venture and challenge to most of our group, and as we have families in Northumberland for the first time this year, arranging trips has required a lot of planning," added Mr Simm.

"I should also like to thank all those who have supported us in any way, especially local dentists and opticians as dental and eye checks is a necessary part of the children's visit," said Mr Simm.