CHILDREN who live with the after-effects of a nuclear power plant disaster in 1986, are visiting North Yorkshire for a recuperative holiday.

The charity Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Northallerton funds visits to the town every year for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Belarus, who still suffer from the effects of Chernobyl power plant disaster 32 years ago.

During their month-long trip to the UK they stay with host families for temporary respite, to experience clean air and visit local doctors, dentists and opticians for health and wellbeing checks.

During their visit to Northallerton they were invited to Specsavers in the town, which provided free eye tests, donated glasses to the children who needed them and provided them with goody bags filled with balloons, stickers and sweets.

Ruth Sinclair, store director at Specsavers in Northallerton, says: “The children who come across to the UK from Belarus are often in need of medical care for a number of issues, not least of which is eye care.

“We’re so proud to be a friend of the organisation, and to be able to do our part in helping those less fortunate than ourselves who come from such a disadvantaged part of the world.”

It is the 20th year children have been brought to the area and they have also taken part in a variety of fun and educational activities.

Highlights this year included a visit to Lightwater Valley organised by Northallerton Amateur Variety Company, trips to the York museums and Hollywood Bowl in Stockton laid on by the town’s two Rotary clubs and a trip to Beamish Museum organised by Simon Bailes Peugeot, who also pays for new trainers for the group every year. The children also took part in outdoor activities including soft archery and bush craft at Saltburn.

They were also treated to ice-cream and cakes at Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton.

The youngsters will also take part in the Mayor’s Parade at Northallerton Carnival on Sunday, July 8, and visit a number of local schools and community organisations.

Each child will take home a suitcase full of warm clothes, vitamin pills, toys and gifts and new trainers, which Simon Bailes contributes each year.

Alison Shepherd, co-ordinator at Friends of Chernobyl's Children Northallerton, said: “We couldn’t possibly do what we do without the unwavering support of local families and businesses like Simon Bailes.

“After a month in North Yorkshire, the children return home happier, healthier, more confident and excited about sharing their wonderful experiences with their families. Once back in Belarus the children know they have a special English family who care for them and look forward to seeing them the next year.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see the children blossom during their time with us.”

Simon Bailes said: “It was wonderful to meet a new group of children and make new friends. The charity has been doing fantastic work for the last 20 years or so and it’s one of the highlights of our year when the young people come to visit and try on their new trainers.”