Chernobyl kids back beside the sea

PUBLISHED: 06:26 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 24 May 2010

FOR most people in Weston a day by the seaside is just another day of the week, but for the children of Chernobyl it is a rare window into a very different world to their own. Youngsters from the Ukrainian town devastated by an explosion at a nuclear powe

FOR most people in Weston a day by the seaside is just another day of the week, but for the children of Chernobyl it is a rare window into a very different world to their own.Youngsters from the Ukrainian town devastated by an explosion at a nuclear power station in 1986 visited Weston for the 20th time last week.For the past two decades children have been getting a taste of a proper seaside holiday for a day. Traders often open their doors free to the children and they can have a go on the miniature railway, ride the donkeys and sample the delights of the Grand Pier.Back home, they are battling against the effects of what is regarded as the worst nuclear accident in history.The children's visits were originally started by the late Margaret Horler, of the Queenswood Hotel, and for the past couple of years Weston Lions Club has taken over the reins.The children still visit the Queenswood in Victoria Park every year for some refreshments during their day in town.Organiser Malcolm Timmis said: "A group in Wells looks after the children for a month each year and has done since the disaster. As part of the trip the youngsters come to Weston for a day."We look after them and many of the traders give them free rides. They just say 'bring them along and we'll do our best to give them a nice time'."This year we went to the beach, made some sandcastles, had a go on the donkeys, rode the land train, had a go on the miniature railway and walked around the Grand Pier."I think the children's general health has improved over the years but Chernobyl is still like a disaster zone."Their parents don't have jobs and many mums and dads are drug and alcohol dependent. The children don't get much of a start in life and we just try to give them a bit of a holiday."Anyone who would like to donate any clothes, money or other items should contact Malcolm on 01934 632450.

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