It was fun and laughter all the way for children from Chernobyl hosted by Shropshire firefighters as part of an annual respite visit.
A dozen youngsters, aged between 10 and 12, squirted water in the parade ground at Shrewsbury fire HQ, were given treats at the station and shared a meal with firefighters.
It was all part of a visit to Shropshire organised by the county branch of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline (CCL), which county firefighters support along with other organisations.
The children weren’t born when the nuclear reactor exploded 30 years ago on April 26, 1986, but they are suffering the effects with surrounding land still heavily contaminated and people eating and drinking contaminated food and water.
Jane Elliott, CCL chairperson, said that life was still “very hard” for people living in the shadow of Chernobyl.
“To be able to offer them some respite from it during their visit to Shropshire can put two years on their lives. They only need to be here for four weeks to experience the benefits.
“They are so overwhelmed when they come. They cannot believe how green and hilly the area is whereas the area they come from is very flat.”
“Small things such as fruit in a bowl is a real treat for them,” she said.
Blue Watch Shrewsbury have hosted the youngsters for many years, said Watch Manager Paul Gray.
Because of Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout, the children had a short life expectancy but a visit to the UK for just two weeks a year can have a positive effect on their health and considerably extend their life expectancy, he said.
“It has become an annual highlight for the Watch to show the groups of children the fire engines and have some fun squirting water with them followed by a meal and some treats.
“As you can see from the photos, visiting Shrewsbury Fire station is a big part of the UK trip that they really enjoy and hope this continues for many years to come.”