There were tears of joy and sadness at an event to mark the end of a visit to Hucknall by some very special youngsters.
Accompanied by teachers, 14 children from Belarus have been the special guests of the Hucknall Branch of the Friends of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline.
But their month-long trip came to an end with an emotional goodbye.
An all-singing, all-dancing performance by the children and their mentors, Olya Gorelova and Natasha Malaenko, delighted a packed audience of host family members and guests who gathered at Hucknall’s Royal British Legion for a farewell party.
Since landing at Manchester Airport on 8th June,the “special ones” have participated in a packed programme of activities such as .
The host families, who have welcomed the children into their homes, will be heavy hearted, as this will be the last time that this particular group will visit England under the Lifeline arrangement.
The Hucknall Branch of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline has to raise £14,000 annually to bring the youngsters over to the UK.
Next year, a completely new group of seven year olds will begin their visits to host families.
Kim Challand, a driving force behind the initiative and its chairman David Palmer, agreed: “It is hard to say goodbye,but these young people will always have a special place in our hearts and we will welcome the newcomers with open arms and do our best to enrich their lives as we have done those “beautiful people” who have gone home.”
Kim added: “I say to everyone, these children who are innocent. They are all victims of a nuclear catastrophe that has left a legacy of radioactive contamination that will last for decades and we cannot change that fact. We can ensure that we try to give the children and their families the best fighting chance they have.”