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Gill and Roger: ‘It’s life changing, with many new friends in Belarus, Ukraine and St Ives’

Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline supports children and their families from Belarus and Ukraine who were affected by the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Belarus, where most of the charity’s work is focused, received more than 70% of the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in April 1986, and thousands of children have since been born with thyroid cancer, bone cancer, and leukaemia, or gone on to develop these conditions.

Would you consider opening your heart and home to Chernobyl children aged eight to 11? Here is what some of the St Ives hosts have to say.

Julie and Gary

“Beautiful, super, cool” — three words the child who stayed with us this year said frequently, and ones we would echo about having her stay with us, too. This is the third year we have cared for a Chernobyl child, and each year we have shared the most fantastic time with the children. We can honestly say that this is one of the best things we are involved in, as we get to provide them with fun memories as well as the health boost they so badly need…

Phil and Denise

The seaside is a great hit for these children from landlocked Belarus, and it is a pleasure to see and share their enjoyment. There are many organised activities, and these rely on the huge generosity of the local businesses — the highlight being a surfing lesson at Porthmeor. As hosts, we were concerned about the language barrier — but it is lots of fun, pointing and playing our version of charades: their English is always superior to our Belarusian! The whole CCLL group is very supportive. Everyone is always available for help and advice. We gain as much as the children from the experience.

Gill and Roger

We were a little nervous at first, but soon found the group to be just kids as we know them. People ask us questions about them as though they are from another planet, but they are just normal kids. Language? Nothing which a bit of signing cannot overcome! It’s life-changing, with many new friends in Belarus, Ukraine and St Ives. It’s very rewarding to see and hear how the children grow and develop. We like to think we have contributed towards their future goals and ambitions. It is particularly lovely to receive letters and photos – they are so proud to share their progress through life.

Joan and John

It’s a life-changing experience for all — even resulting in attending weddings in Belarus! We’ve had fun, hard work, laughter, love, a few tears. and much joy.

• For more information about Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, contact Joan Packard j.packard@btopenworld.com, 01736 797009, or Roger Blundell, blundellr3@hotmail.com, 01736 756453.