Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mayor: Suffer the Children?

Each year, through Chernobyl’s Children Lifeline, children living within the continuing radioactive zone created by the Chernobyl nuclear accident come across to Northumberland for a few weeks to enjoy our clean air and safe food and so boost their immune systems for a couple of years.

Last year, Mayor Joan Tebbutt entertained the visiting children at the Curiously Wicked cafĂ©, this year – they came along to the Mayor’s Parlour. And as I explained to them, the Mayor’s Parlour is the Mayor’s private room in the Town Hall and only special guests get invited there.

So – we had about a dozen children aged 9-10 years old along with their interpreter, their host families and Lilian Nelson who set up Chernobyl’s Children Lifeline. The children came from three remote rural villages in Belarus just over the border from Chernobyl – they’d never seen the sea before, they’d never seen mountains and even an aeroplane flying overhead was something to get excited about. I think Northumberland was something totally different!

They were also quite in awe of the mayor and all the civic regalia. Apparently civic authorities in Belarus can be quite forbidding and remote. It maybe something I need to work on.

These children are staying on till the end of June, but Chernobyl’s Children Lifeline is already starting to raise funds to bring another set of children across next year – but Lilian was telling me that what they really need are more host families willing to take in a couple of children. This year, apparently, they were so short of families in Morpeth that several of the children are staying with families in Wideopen.

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