Christmas comes early for Chernobyl kids visiting Lancaster

On a hot afternoon at the end of June a group of youngsters from Chernobyl celebrated Christmas in style, with Christmas trees, Father Christmas, stockings with presents, turkey, Christmas jumpers, the lot!

The youngsters are all from needy families from contaminated areas in Belarus, still affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and were on their last day of a month-long visit to Lancaster, organised by the Lancaster group of the charity Friends on Chernobyl’s Children.

The group’s coordinator, Jo Thornton said: “We wanted to do something special for their last day.

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“Although Christmas is celebrated in Belarus, the children’s families often lack resources for daily essentials like food, so the children will not have experienced much in the way of Christmas celebrations.

“The look on their faces when they came in was worth all the hard work.”

During their recuperative holiday – which helps their shattered immune systems just through breathing fresh air and eating and drinking uncontaminated food – the children take part in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

This year’s activities included a trip to Blackpool Zoo, a visit to the new community ambulance and fire station in Lancaster, and a lot of swimming, trips to the beach and play areas.

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They also received dental care and had their eyes checked, with glasses provided for those who needed them.

The children stay with local host families for the duration of the stay for five consecutive years from the age of seven.

At the end of the month they return home with a suitcase full of warm winter clothing, vitamins, toiletries and a month worth of amazing memories.

If you can help the group make memories in any way (such as financial, providing activities, fundraising, donation of good quality second hand clothes, hosting a child from 2021), please get in touch with the group’s coordinator, Jo Thornton at [email protected] or on 07508 631228.

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