A GROUP of children from Chernobyl have returned to North Yorkshire two years after their first visit to the region.

The children, who are all aged between nine and ten, are brought to the UK for a month by Easingwold Friends of Chernobyl Children.

The trip is designed to improve their health, both physically and mentally, which is still affected by the 1986 nuclear plant disaster in Ukraine.

This year saw the children again welcomed by staff at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

Flight Leutenant Dave Williams said: “This will be the third time we have hosted the children and it’s great to see them growing up and doing so well.

“It’s been proven that one month away from the radiation affected area, breathing clean air and eating uncontaminated food, every year before their teens will dramatically improve their health chances in adult life.”

The children were shown around the air traffic control tower, the fire section and were allowed to sit in the cockpit of a Hawk jet aircraft and have their photos taken.

Maxine Forster, one of the host mums, said: “I am sure they will remember forever dressing up as firemen and drenching their teacher with the fire hose.

“They chattered about it all over lunch and I am sure we have a few potential pilots in the group. Many thanks to RAF Linton-on-Ouse and to everyone involved in taking time to create such a memorable morning for the children. They are looking forward to next year already.”

As well as the trip to the air base, the children enjoyed a performance of Rupunzel at York Theatre Royal before meeting the cast of the show afterwards.

Vicky Abbiss, who also hosted some of the visiting children, said they were all a little bit taller than when they visited last time and were “in good spirits and doing well.”

She said: “As ever, the trip has been funded and supported by the enormous generosity of many people and businesses in the Easingwold community, the host families and a fantastic lump sum donations from groups like the Lions and The Forest of Galtres Lodge.”

• The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, The official Soviet casualty count of 31 deaths has been disputed, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.