Children from near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are getting help from doctors and nurses at Ormskirk hospital this summer.
The 17 youngsters aged seven to 12 have been hosted by local families belonging to the Maghull and Ormskirk branch of the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children charity.
The charity funds annual visits by children from deprived communities of Belarus, the former Soviet republic down-wind from where the Ukrainian nuclear power plant exploded in 1986.
Fundraising pays the £1,000 it costs to bring each child to the UK for a month. They return to the same host family for up to five years where possible.
During their stay, the children take part in daily trips and activities that meet their social, health and educational needs. Blackpool Zoo, the Crocky Trail adventure park, near Chester, and Croxteth Hall in Liverpool have been destinations so far this year.
Many children are from large, single-parent families, living in poverty in contaminated areas and can suffer poor general health.
Paediatric consultant Dr Sharryn Gardner, research nurse Zena Haslam and medical secretary Linda Sheridan and her family have supported health checks for the children for more than 10 years.
Sharryn said: “All the children who visit us live in difficult domestic circumstances which are only aggravated by the environmental pollution from the Chernobyl explosion.
“All the hospital staff involved give their time for free to support the health checks. The children also visit local dentists and opticians. It’s a great privilege and very rewarding for all of us to see the progress they make over the years.”