Berwickshire welcomes Belarus children

Fourteen youngsters enjoyed month long visit

By Simon Duke

FOURTEEN Belarus youngsters hosted by the Scottish Borders link of Chernobyl Children Lifeline said their farewells on Sunday after a successful month long visit.

They flew out of Edinburgh Airport heading back to the Grodno region near the Polish border with happy memories and, more importantly, feeling a lot healthier.

The children all live in the contaminated area of the nuclear power station disaster 22 years ago so a month's holiday in a healthy environment such as the Borders and Northumberland is a huge help to their immune system.

Host families opened their homes to the youngsters and the Borders committee organised a packed schedule of events, one again benefiting from the generosity of kind-hearted businesses.

For instance, a vital part of the visit are the dental and optical treatments which were donated by local practices and firms in the areas the children were staying.

And the youngsters also went away with suitcases packed with clothes and other items donated by local people and companies.

Fraser Simm, acting chairman of the Scottish Borders link of the Chernobyl Children Lifeline, said they were indebted to everyone who helped provide this service and all those who contributed towards the success of the visit.

He explained:"This was the fifth such visit arranged and hosted by the link - all of whom are volunteers - and this year's was undoubtedly one of the best.

"We had an excellent leader in Ludmilla Dainakova and a really good bunch of kids.

"I think the children really enjoyed their visit and the many activities arranged for them and I am sure our host families enjoyed having them."

The children were hosted in Selkirk, Ettrick Valley, Walkerburn, Peebles, Jedburgh, Fogo near Duns and Eyemouth with some staying south of the border at Belford, Seahouses and Tweedmouth.

There were a number of successful events including a day out at Bowhill Estate near Selkirk, a barbecue and games in the gardens of the Kingsknowes Hotel in Galashiels, swimming at the Teviotdale Leisure Centre in Hawick, a meal at McDonald's in Galashiels and a visit to the local Fire Station where the youngsters received smoke detectors.

Mr Simm said thanks were due to many people and organisations. The dental practices who treated the children were Kelso Health Centre, Brian Steele (Selkirk), Mr Forrest (Eyemouth), Sloan Thom & Munro (Galashiels), J Weme-Brown (Belford); with assistance from Mr David Clouting, Melrose.

The opticians were Dempsters and Specsavers (Berwick), Mr McFarlane (Selkirk), Specsavers (Galashiels).

Fruit and vegetables were provided courtesy of Lothian and Borders Co-op (Galashiels) and Mr Billy Williamson (Stow).

Tesco in Galashiels supplied the children with vitamins while Boots the Chemist, also Galashiels, donated travel sickness wristbands.

Mr Simm added:"There are so many people to thank including everyone who made donations at our fund-raising events during the course of the year.

"The hosts, support families and the committee deserve the utmost praise for their hard work and enthusiasm."

The Borders link were delighted to receive confirmation on Sunday evening that the children had all arrived home safely and their parents were delighted with the healthy condition they were in.

As the dust settles on a successful trip, already attention is turning to next year as the fund-raising process gets underway.

The next event is a tea and cakes/tombola/reiki & massage/clothing sale/information day at 6-8 Canongate in Jedburgh on Saturday, 16th August (10a.m. to 4p.m.). It is hoped that the public will support this event by coming along.



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