A GROUP of young people whose lives have been affected by the Chernobyl disaster have visited Swindon thanks to the support of families around the town.

The 12 Belarussian children, aged between 10 and 12, have been staying with host families during a month-long trip arranged by Chernobyl Children’s Life Line Swindon Link and Old Town Link.

Despite the disaster happening in 1986, children growing up in the country still suffer from health problems as a result of the radiation and pollution from the blast.

For the children, having the chance to visit England is a dream come true and the trip has included a day out at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and a trip to the seaside at Barry Island. The children are also given free dental treatment and a visit to the opticians at Nixon and Shaw in Marlborough.

The visit would not be possible without the support of host families and mum-of-two Becky Hopkins, of Cirencester, has played host for the past two years.

She said: “Even after they leave we still keep in contact and we’re having some back to spend Christmas with us this year.”

Becky was looking after Zhenya, 12, and Nastya, 11.

Zhenya said: “I have lots of good words for my host family, they have been wonderful. I’ve really liked swimming, because there are no swimming pools where I live.”

Nastya said: “I had a dream that I wanted to visit England so my dream has come true.”

Lynette Corengia, chairman of Old Town Link, said: “They are lovely children, who really appreciate the trip and all behave brilliantly. What we really need is more host families so we can get more children over here. I want to say a big thank you to all the host families and to the people who have given to the charity.”

As well as visiting the charity shop in Old Town yesterday, where they were decorating their own pottery, the children also visited the McDonalds store in Great Western Way where they met Mayor Mick Bray and had lunch.

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