Chernobyl youngsters are back in town

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CHILDREN from Belarus who are staying in Hucknall as part of a heartwarming scheme enjoyed a special treat last weekend.

For the youngsters met Elvis Presley — or rather one of the megastar’s best impersonators.

Hucknall’s Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (FOCC) group held its annual Picnic In The Park at Hayes Farm, Newstead, and Simon (The Rebel) Patrick is the main attraction.

FOCC stalwart Kim Challand said: “Simon won the 2010 European Elvis Championship and he is sure to make the picnic an event to remember this year.”

Proceeds from the event will help to support FOCC, which has had a branch in Hucknall for 14 years.

Each year, local families volunteer for the cause of hosting youngsters from Belarus, which was hit hard by the nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power-station disaster in neighbouring Ukraine in 1986.

The visits have been proven to extend life-expectancy of the children by several years as they take advantage of fresh air, clean water, health checks and morale-boosting days out.

This year’s group comprises 15 children, accompanied by two teachers, and this is their fourth visit.

They arrived on June Bank Holiday Monday — just in time for a taste of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Activities so far have included a craft session, ice skating, a film show, a golf day and trips to Cadbury’s World, Clumber Park and Creswell Crags.

They have also paid visits to the dentists and opticians.

There will be a fancy dress farewell party at Hucknall Royal British Legion Club on Beardall Street on Thursday and the group will return home from Manchester Airport on Saturday June 30.

Not to be outdone by the Elvis lookalike, the children from Belarus will contribute a turn of singing and dancing at the picnic tomorrow.