Smiles in store as Fernhurst villagers host Chernobyl’s children visit

FERNHURST villager Pauline Fitter braved temperatures of minus 20 degrees centigrade to deliver gifts to Chernobyl children

This winter, Pauline went specifically to hand out to families the mass of presents that had been donated by the congregations of St Peter’s and St Paul’s Churches in Lynchmere and Camelsdale.

They included soft toys and yo-yos, toy cars and skipping ropes covering a wide age range.

This made giving easier to pupils at an impoverished school and to the children in a cancer hospital where there is a sealed unit for bone marrow children who can only talk to their parents on a phone or look through the window.

Pauline who is preparing for a visit from the Chernobyl children this week said life was not easy in Belarus.

The temperature was minus 20, many families and schools had no running water or inside lavatories, the only heating was wood fires and logs were hard to find under two feet of snow. Families were short of food and warm clothes, the country was nearly bankrupt and the only people who helped them were charities.

Started in 1992, the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline is a national charity which brings 2,500 children a year to England for a recuperative break from the relentless low-level radiation that impairs their immune systems.

The children stay for three to four weeks, living with host families and having a daily programme of entertainment.

They are supplied with new clothes, toiletries, and a bag of goodies for the families at home.

The children physically change to a healthy colour in just that short time. They eat well and gain weight and start to smile.

It costs £5,000 or more for each group of children and a group is coming to Haslemere on Sunday (February 24), just in time to avoid the extra £86 per person it will cost when the government stops paying for the visas in April.

It will mean good food, fun, and warmth before returning with goodies for their families and for their schools, all donated or bought with money raised by Pauline.

Anyone who would like to donate money, clothing, craft items for the schools or items of food, or know more about the charity, can call 01428 644538 or email