Wiltshire Publications

Chernobyl Children visit the White Horse Model Railway

Children visiting Wiltshire with the Chernobyl Children in Need charity have continued their holiday, visiting a number of locations throughout the South West including a day out at Westbury’s White Horse Model Railway.

The group of  children are from Ozarichi, a town in Belarus still affected by the fallout of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The Chernobyl Children in Need (CCIN) charity organises respite holidays in Wiltshire to try and relieve the effects of the contamination the children are exposed to at home.

Charity chairman Adrian Walker said, “The fresh air and uncontaminated food is known to flush most ingested radiation out of their bodies, improving their health and immune systems.”

The children were invited to the miniature railway at White Horse Leisure Centre by Ted Johnson and Nev Boulton of the West Wilts Society of Model Engineering.

Nev fondly recalled that after a morning spent riding the trains, the children were “individually taught the mysteries of the dead man’s handle and driving a diesel.” He said most of the instruction was shared by himself and Derek Stamp, and that language difficulties meant they became fluent at hand signalling!

The railway enthusiasts also learnt about life for the children who still have to live with the threat of radiation. Nev explained, “The children have to be very careful what they eat because a lot of their food is contaminated by radioactivity. I understand that they are taught not to drink milk because it is radioactive.” He explained that luckily, chairman Ted Johnson was on the case and raided the club’s ‘tea and biscuit fund’ to  treat their guests to a barbeque.

“After lunch, the very well behaved guests presented the club with a lovely ‘thank you card’ and a tea mug before departing. Hopefully we will see them again next year.”

The children have also spent time at Cotswold Water Park and the Cotswold Flying Club, been to Swanage and Bournemouth, and taken a canal journey on the Barbara McLellan in Bradford on Avon.

As well as organising respite holidays, CCIN sponsors over 300 children, and funds projects to help children in and around Ozarichi.

To find out more about the charity, visit www.ccin.co.uk or call 01373 858584. To find out more about the West Wilts Society of Model Engineering visit www.wwsme.org.uk.