Once-in-a-lifetime trip for Belarusians

The Belarussian girls as they head out on a boat trip from Seahouses.
The Belarussian girls as they head out on a boat trip from Seahouses.

Eight girls from a country that is still feeling the effects from a 1986 nuclear disaster had a day out on the north Northumberland coast.

Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) organises visits for Belarusian children between the ages of 10 and 12, who are brought over to stay with volunteer host families for anything between a weekend and the full month, where group visits to local attractions are arranged, along with trips to the dentist and opticians.

This summer, eight girls and host families had a visit to Seahouses and were due to take a trip out to the Farne Islands.

Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas and the trip was cancelled an hour before sailing. Thankfully there was someone on hand at the lifeboat station to give a very quick and impromptu tour around the RNLB Grace Darling.

As everyone had travelled so far for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – Belarus is land-locked and the nearest beach is thousands of miles away – a boat trip out of the harbour was arranged on board Serenity II.

The girls were laughing hysterically at being soaked by the waves on the way back.

The charity thanked Andrew Douglas for allowing the trip; it really meant a lot to the children and families.

After an hour finding crabs and splashing around on the beach, the group was off to Pinnacles Fish Restaurant for a free tea, where the girls enjoyed sausage and chips, followed by ice cream, while others enjoyed a range from fish to haggis and chips.

CCLL thanked the staff for their kindness and hospitality, not to mention the ‘fantastic meals’.

Donna-Marie Perry, from the Scottish Borders link of the charity, said: “All in all, the afternoon was a complete success thanks to those involved in making sure the eight girls had a day to remember, from the RNLI for a last-minute tour, to Andrew on Serenity II for a fantastic trip and Pinnacles for a superb tea, you all made the day extremely worthwhile!”

The charity is always looking for more host families so they can bring more children across. Anyone who has time and a spare room to offer during the month of July is asked to contac Donna-Marie on 01665 722882 or Fraser Simm on 01578 730297.

More information about the CCLL can be found at www.ccll.org.uk