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Chernobyl youngsters visit Shropshire's Severn Valley Railway

By Rory Smith | Kidderminster | News | Published:

More than a dozen children suffering the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are on their way to Shropshire's Severn Valley Railway.

The group last visited the railway in 2017

There will be 15 young people aged between 12 and 15 visiting from Belarus on July 23 as part of a trip organised by the Solihull branch of Chernobyl Children's Project UK.

Joined by 10 adults, they will hop aboard a steam train through the Severn Valley and visit the latest exhibitions at The Engine House Visitor Centre in Highley before receiving a bespoke SVR goody bag to take home.

The children are chosen for the trip by Belarusian children's cancer charity CIT, and are all in remission from various cancers.

They have endured lengthy treatment, with many having operations including bone marrow transplants.

The group last visited the railway in 2017

Their visit is just one of the stops during a four-week stay in the UK to help the children recuperate.

They will stay in pairs with local host families for two weeks before staying together in residential accommodation at Lindsworth School in Kings Norton, Birmingham.

Ian Wooden, a long-standing volunteer at the railway, organised the visit with the railway's education department.

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"We have welcomed the groups for their visit for 10 years now and it is always a delight to host them," he said.

"Despite the awful things that they have been through, they are still smiling and every time the group visits, it is clear to see that they thoroughly enjoy their day."

Chernobyl remains one of the worst nuclear disasters in the world where more than 30 people died in 1986 after a reactor at a power plant exploded, causing a large fire contaminating the atmosphere.

Thousands have since died – including many children – as a result of radiation poisoning or cancer linked to the explosion. An exclusion zone around the area remains in force to this day.

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Trainee news reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Ketley office in Telford.

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