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Chernobyl children enjoy Christmas – in midsummer

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Friends of Chernoyl Charity at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: South Norfolk Council.
Friends of Chernoyl Charity at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: South Norfolk Council.

Christmas came early for some East European children visiting Diss.

A traditional Christmas Day was one of the treats laid on by the town’s branch of the Friends of Chernobyl Children.

Each summer the branch hosts children from some of the most disadvantaged areas of Belarus where the effects on health of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are still evident.

As well as giving the children a holiday, the branch made appointments for them to visit a dentist and an optician.

And combining holiday fun and health-promoting activities, visits to the South Norfolk Council Diss Leisure Centre were arranged.

Swim teacher Lindsey Chapman said: “At first, many of the children were unsure of the water but they soon started enjoying themselves and didn’t want the sessions to end. It was amazing to be able to support this fantastic charity that does so much for these children and gives them experiences they never could have dreamed of.”

Yvonne Bendle, the South Norfolk cabinet member for health, said: “The children live in such poverty, and even though it’s been 30 years since Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, it’s still affecting people’s health, especially through contaminated food and water.”

Other treats for the children included visits to a circus, zoo and the seaside. They also learned first aid and joined in at local schools.

Kirsty Neve, the charity’s co-ordinator at Diss, said: “It’s always such a privilege to see the difference these visits make to the children’s energy levels and confidence over the month they are here. They return home with a suitcase full of vitamins, warm clothing and memories of their second families at Diss.”

To support the charity, ring 07706899093 or 01379 890310, or email focc.diss@gmail.com

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