Children suffering from the devastating effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are benefitting from Guernsey’s famous hospitality thanks to the Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands.
Each year in June, Chernobyl Children Life Line Guernsey Link brings 12 or 14 ten- and eleven-year olds from the former Soviet Union state of Belarus to the Bailiwick for a month-long visit where the children benefit from unpolluted air, food, and sunshine. These benefits combined with plenty of fun, boost the children’s immune systems. The cost approaches £10,000 annually. Although the charity holds an annual fundraising lunch on the anniversary of the disaster in April 1986 and benefits from other fundraising events, for the past four years these annual trips have been made possible through grants from the Foundation. Now £5,000 has been forthcoming to ensure 14 more children will benefit from a healthy holiday in Guernsey in 2014.
The Chairman of Chernobyl Children Life Line Guernsey Link, Terry Iles, said the on-going support of the Foundation had not only transformed the lives of so many of these disadvantaged children, it has also put the charity on a far securer financial footing.
He said: ‘The support from the Lloyds TSB Foundation has been fantastic for us over the past four years, as without it we would not have been able to continue bringing so many children to Guernsey. To see them at the end of their stays, so happy, much stronger and healthier than when they arrived, proves that a recuperative holiday in Guernsey is just what the doctor ordered.’
The Chernobyl accident is the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history, sending a deadly radioactive cloud into an area of Belarus inhabited by more than two million people. The population received no warning so was unaware that a potentially silent killer was raining down on them. Twenty-seven years later the ground and water supplies remain heavily contaminated and will be for centuries to come.
Only 5% of children in the Chernobyl region are left healthy as children are particularly susceptible to radiation-induced illnesses. Many of the Belarusian children have leukaemia, cancer of the thyroid and other cancers. Brain tumours are also greatly increased; stomach ulcers are also commonly found due to the poor diet and babies are born with many different deformities. In addition, there is a 40% increase in malignant tumours amongst men and in 29% of women.
Chernobyl Children Life Line Guernsey Link is a small charity comprising islanders concerned about the plight of children who are affected by the radiation fallout. The charity raises funds to bring children to the island, staying with host families, to help them recuperate in an environment free of nuclear pollution. The children benefit from eating a much better diet, relaxing and enjoying excursions to the other Islands, sightseeing and special trips in the Bailiwick and the hospitality of their host families and the community. They go home healthier and happy and with supplies of many of the over the counter medicines essential for their on-going care which are not readily available in Belarus or are too expensive for their families to buy. They are also given a large supply of uncontaminated vegetable seeds for their families to sow.
The Lloyds TSB Foundation is legally independent of the Lloyds TSB Group and an independent board of trustees determines the policies. The Chairman of the local foundation is Jurat Stephen Jones and the Executive Director is John Hutchins.
Mr Hutchins said: ‘We are delighted to have been involved with this charity over a number of years and to see how well our visitors from Chernobyl appreciate the link.’
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands has donated in excess of £12 million to charities in the Channel Islands, the UK and overseas since its inception in 1985. It is a grant-making trust that decides on and makes donations to charities in both bailiwicks. Its mission is to support and work in partnership with charitable organisations which help people, especially those who are disadvantaged or disabled, to play a fuller role in communities throughout the Channel Islands.
Since Chernobyl Children Life Line Guernsey Link was founded in 1993 it has brought over 300 children to Guernsey. Over the years the annual visits have led to enduring friendships between the children and their hosts, some going back 20 years.