Chernobyl children make final visit to South Essex Gymnastics Club

IT was a bittersweet stopover at SEGC this month by the children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – as it is likely to be their last visit.

Groups of about a dozen youngsters aged about 10 from Belarus and Ukraine have visited the Basildon-based gymnastics club – both at its previous site in Cranes Farm Road, and current location at the Sporting Village – for 11 years now.

It is organised with the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity, who place the children with host families over a four-week period, and take them to different attractions and sites around Essex.

But those who chaperone the children are due to retire and, with nobody lined up to take over, this is likely to be the last year it is run.

This year’s visit to the Sporting Village was on Thursday, July 11, and saw the children take a dip in the leisure centre’s swimming pool before taking part in a gymnastics session with SEGC staff.

SEGC Events Manager Cara Noble said: “The charity contacted us the first year and we were obviously very happy to have the group visit. Since then, we have seen them every year.

“They started coming when we were still in the old gym and we always love having them here.

“It will be very sad to not have them visit any more and a shame there is no one willing to take over the job with the charity.”

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster took place in April 1986 and it is very much in the public consciousness after the ramifications were depicted by HBO drama mini-series Chernobyl earlier this year.

You can find more information on the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline project by clicking this link.