Chernobyl Children Have Fun 2019

In the 6th year of our support, following the Welcome BBQ we funded the visit to Rope Runners on July 1, followed by a garden party in Stock, and a visit to Thriftwood Scout Camp on July 12. Finally, we supported the farewell party on the last evening.

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What a Swinging Time for ALL!

For the last six years, the Rotary Club of Billericay has supported the Essex Branch of the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line by funding selected excursions for the twelve  children from the Ukraine during their four week stay.

Following the Welcome BBQ which we supported on June 21, the club has been involved in a number of activities for the children.  Starting with the visit to Rope Runners on July 1, followed by an afternoon later that week at club member Patrick Rothon’s garden organised and run by his wife Carol on , and ending with a visit to the Thriftwood Scout Camp on July 12, followed by the farewell party on the evening of the same day.

We are delighted to support this cause because, although they live outside the exclusion zone, it has been calculated that each visit of four weeks these innocent children adds another two years of life!

Rope Runners

This popular site at Kelvedon Hatch is a favourite of the Chernobyl children each year.  With six different courses on three different levels, there is something for everyone. Even the opportunity to finish their experience with a big thrill on the zip wire, climbing wall and fan descender.

Starting on the lower ropes, the children migrated to the middle level before just a few braved the high ropes.  They tried the Rope Bridge, the High Traverse, the High Beams and the Rope Net.  And all on top of the Suspended Platforms, and finally the Zip-Wires giving a thrill to all who attempted them.  Twelve  happy and exhausted children left in the coach after an energetic day.

Garden Party

For many years Rotary’s Inner Wheel have hosted a garden party at Stock, with rides on scooters and pedal cars, hot tub bathing, rides on a trailer along the winding paths through the woods, and much more.

This branch of Inner wheel has closed but Carol Rothon stepped into the breach this year, aided by husband and club member Patrick, and they had a PARTY!

Carol organised food and the activities as usual – pedal car and scooters down the long drive, a hot tub in which to luxuriate as first the girls and then later the boys had their time in the tub.  While one group was in the tub, the others had the run of a long blue water slide – some with trepidation and some which such enthusiasm that they almost slid off the end of the slide.  And all the time, more snacks and sweets provided by Carol to keep the kids happy.

Added to that, out came the open-top land rover with seating in the open back. First up the boys for a thrilling ride along the winding paths through the woods.  Then the turn of the girls.  Time then to head back to Billericay for collection by their host parents.

Thriftwood Scout Camp

Their second visit to this popular site, but different activities, an assault course – no instructors necessary as they raced in pairs across the sloping trees, up and over the scrambling net, and under the crawling net.  Even team leader and interpreter Svitlana, and CCLL organiser Alistair, had a go over the scrambling net.

Then on to the crate stacking – innocuous sounding, but a hoot!  Two base crates, then add a third and two kids stand on top.  Add two more on the other side and the kids climb up a level (all secured with safety ropes of course), then two more on the other side and climb up … and so on until they were six or seven crates high and the unstable structure collapsed leaving two grinning children hanging in mid-air. They all loved it.!  
After a picnic, Jacobs Ladder, really stretching their physical capabilities as they sought, and succeeded, in climbing suspended tree trunks arranged as a vertical ladder with the rungs the trees.  Despite only just reaching the tree above they still managed to get 15 feet up in the air!

Finally, the Cresta Run, as the kids roared down the wooden track on roller toboggans, four at a time.  No risk but loads of fun as they raced each other to the end.  Time enough for runs for each child before they were totally exhausted and back to the coach for home.

Farewell Party

Friday July 12 was time to put on party clothes for the Farewell Party at Queens Park  Community Hall.  Every child received a 72 page photo-book of them enjoying all their activities during the four-week visit, and a slide show of photos was shown on the big screen in the hall.  The children lined up to thank all their host families for their hospitality and then entertained us with a rendering of “Old MacDonald’s Farm”, followed by a “thank you” recital in Ukrainian.

Chairman Matthew Craig-Greene gave a short speech and presented Gaynor and Alistair, who had organised the activities and programme, and done the driving, with a thank you gift for all that they have done over the years.

A swinging party as all the kids danced away to the disco music – a fitting end to a great visit.