Norwich businesses helped to give children from the Chernobyl area a great day out during their holiday in East Anglia.

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The 18 youngsters, all aged seven to 10 and from the area of Belarus devastated by the nuclear disaster in 1986, are enjoying a four-week break arranged by the Mid Suffolk Link of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, and on Wednesday they visited Norwich’s Broadland Business Park.

Joanna Barnard, Broadland Business Park estate manager, said: “It is fantastic how the businesses have come together to give these children a brilliant day out. It all started with Start-rite who have been supplying shoes to Chernobyl children for some years. To now turn their visit into an annual event is a great way to work together in aid of children who live a very challenging life.”

The children started their visit with a trip to Start-rite Shoes where they picked out shoes to take home. Next they were shown around D&F McCarthy fruit and vegetable merchants and given a goodie bag of fresh produce. D&F McCarthy also organised a barbecue with help from the Broadland Business Park branch of Makro and Broadland District Council, and the children had the chance to ride in a truck, courtesy of Brand of Beccles, and to climb aboard Seething Airfield’s fire engine. Other businesses also joined in, with NatWest Bank donating children’s toys.

Stacey Wright, Start-rite PR executive, said: “They are such delightful children who have a life that is unimaginably tough. We are so happy to be able to help them out. They are able, often for the first time, to get properly fitting, well made leather shoes, which we hope will last them for a long time.”

Martin McCarthy, director of D&F McCarthy, added: “We are delighted to be involved with Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline. The charity does an amazing job for children who face a very hard life. It is humbling to meet the children and we are so pleased to give them an enjoyable few hours with us.”

The children come from Bielaaziorsk and surrounding villages in western Belarus, which are all still affected by the after effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Seventy per cent of the radiation fallout was focused on Belarus, 31 people died, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.

Elizabeth Parker, Mid Suffolk Link chairman of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, said: “Although the children who come are not ill, they all have compromised immune systems as a result of the environment they live in.

“It is said that their four-week visit here, breathing clean air and eating uncontaminated food, boosts their immune systems to such a degree that it can take two years to get back to the levels they arrive with.”

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