The charity was formed in 1991 when Heather and David Lancashire (residents of Wells) were approached by a Belarusian journalist trying to bring children affected by the Chernobyl disaster to England for recuperation. Local host families took part and the children stayed in Wells for 4 weeks.
Basic arrangements for the visits have remained much the same since 1991. The children go to school in Wells - The Wells Blue School and The Wells Cathedral School have been long time supporters of the charity. When not in school, trips are arranged for the children to local attractions such as Wookey Hole, Longleat, Puxton Park, Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury, Wells Cathedral, Bishops Palace, Weston-Super-Mare (thanks to the support of the Lions of Weston-Super-Mare) etc...
Medical advice suggests that fresh, uncontaminated air and a good diet have a beneficial effect on the children's health which can last for 12 months. To support this improvement, we arrange for them to visit local opticians and dentists who give freely of their time. Remedial dentistry is carried out and glasses obtained where appropriate.
We offer these holidays for children from needy families; those with single parents, families with many children, orphans and only those who have not had such an opportunity to travel abroad through other means.
Members of the charity have visited Belarus many times over the years to see what funding and help is needed. Through these visits, we forge a strong link with the villages and, through our local contact, remain in touch throughout the year.
Sadly Heather and David are no longer with us, but we all get an extra boost, if our efforts wane, when we remember their ability to inspire. They are certainly missed.
Board of Trustees 2022
Chair: Mrs Y Allen
Deputy Chair: Mr J Price
Secretary: Mrs J Brown
Treasurer: Mr D Radnidge
Ms J Dallosso
Ms Z Humerstone
Ms S Blair
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bill MacKay, OBE
Julia Somerville, OBE
We would love to hear from anyone interested in becoming a Trustee, please visit Get Involved.
In the early hours of 26 April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power stations exploded. It resulted in the worlds worst nuclear meltdown.
Engineers at the plant were doing a mandatory check to see that reactor 4 could operate under low power if the electricity supply was to fail. Reactors contain 'control rods' which absorb reacting neutrons thus slowing the reaction. However, too many rods were lowered into the reactor which almost caused it to shut down, engineers had to make a quick decision to take some out. These fluctuations caused the sudden overheating of the reactor as the energy level unsuspectedly rose.
The first blast blew off the reactors roof causing the contents to erupt upwards, once exposed to the air the reactor caught fire due to the carbon monoxide. The fire burned for nine days and firemen which tried to stop it died within weeks due radiation poisoning. Sand and water were used to put out the fire but this actually aggravated it more which later caused another issue as the radioactive material seeped under the reactor.
The Crisis Continues...
The increase in cases of thyroid cancer has been bigger than expected, according to the World Health Organisation. The continued presence of radioactive caesium in the soil means that children are suffering most because they absorb higher levels of contamination than adults and their immune systems are less able to resist infection.
Diabetes, blood disorders and heart disease are on the increase amongst both children and adults. Many families are also poverty-stricken and without access to good quality medical services. A high level of alcoholism and depression still exist consequently leading to many family break-ups.
Operating room before the meltdown.
Same operating room 30 years after the incident.
EFFECTS OF RADIATION:
Radiation attacks all living cells and causes loss white blood cells, nervous and digestive systems. Cancers are very common.The initial explosion would have caused radiation sickness, such as nausea and vomiting. Later sufferers may begin to lose hair and be very susceptible to infection as their immune system is weakened.
Children currently are still being born with immune system deficiencies and heart rhythm problems. Birth defects are still a problem with many children being born severely handicapped under conditions like muscle dysfunction, brain damage and epilepsy. The UN-lead Chernobyl Forum states that currently the biggest problems are the "economical and psychological factors, not health or environmental". Our charity helps kids affected by the incident by helping with both the psychological and health factors.