Ten children from Belarus visited the Erme Valley Riding for the Disabled Group near Ugborough on Wednesday, June 21.

The children visited as part of a month of respite and fun, brought to the South Hams through the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity.

The group of children enjoyed the afternoon, most of whom had never had the opportunity to ride, or spend time with horses before.

One of the host parents Angela Heath said: “Horse-riding is a wonderful opportunity for the children and we are very grateful to managing director Peggy Douglas for her longstanding support.

“We are very grateful for the huge amount of support we receive from all sponsors and local organisations that support the children during their trip. Overall this is a very happy holiday for the children who enjoy lots of lovely experiences.”

The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline was founded 25 years ago to support children affected by the aftermath the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. To date, more than 60,000 children have received “a chance of a lifetime” through the charity’s successful work bringing them to the UK every summer.

Many of the children who come to Britain appear healthy, but they are subject to the long-term effects of incessant radiation due to the high levels of contamination in the towns and villages where they live.

The children spend a month in the South Hams benefitting from the clean air, food and water. The children all receive dental treatment, visit the opticians and spend days participating in organised days out and events.

This year, the children have already been surfing at Bantham, enjoyed fish and chips on the beach at Torcross and spent the day at Pennywell Farm.

Sue Wyeth, chairman of the Totnes and South Hams Link - Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline said: “It’s a holiday for the kids, but there are more far-reaching serious effects. Each year we find the change in the children at the end of the month is wonderful.

“The children’s plight is worsened by a difficult economic situation, a shortage of medical facilities and medicine. The children rarely have access to doctors, dentists or opticians.

“Unemployment is rife and they face challenging family circumstances and social hardship. The respite we offer the children means that when they come to the UK they can eat fresh food, breathe clean air and go home in much better health with their immune systems recharged.”

The charity has to raise approximately £1,000 for every child to cover flights, visas, excursions and other costs. Every penny raised is used for the direct benefit of the children visiting Britain.

Wednesday, April 26 marked the 31st anniversary of the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when Reactor No. 4 exploded at Pripyat in Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. In December, the United Nations voted to mark the day as International Day of Remembrance of the Chernobyl Disaster.

Dennis Vystavkin, chief executive of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline said: “It is important that we use the day to remind people of the bravery of the liquidators who put out the fires and prevented the accident from becoming an even worse catastrophe. And of the people who had to leave their homes forever and abandon the villages where their families had lived for generations.

“And of the 100-fold rise in thyroid cancers and increases in many other diseases in both children and adults; of all those who have died and those who still suffer today.”

For further information, or to support the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline - Totnes and South Hams Link, visit www.ccll.org.uk/totnes.