STAFF and pupils at a Maldon school hosted children living near the scene of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for a fun visit.

Plume Academy’s Mill Road Campus welcomed 12 guests from the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Project.

The Year 7 student leadership team teamed up with their new young friends and spent the day together experiencing life in an English school. Throughout the day, visitors had the chance to take part in lessons and activities including art, drama and PE.

Plume community champion Brian Collen said: “This is the eighth year we have been able to host this visit from this charity which was set up to help address some of the pressing needs of young people near the infamous Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

“This four-week visit to England with clean air and fresh food can give such a boost to their immune system that it could extend their lives by as much as two to five years.”

The Chernobyl disaster, which happened on April 26, 1986, is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and has been linked to thousands of deaths. All the children selected for the trip came from within an 80-kilometre radius of the exclusion zone.

Mr Collen added: “They were welcomed by (principal) Mr Wakefield in his best Russian with a little help from Svitlana and Tania, their interpreters.

“I presented our visitors with some farewell gifts and certificates and complimented all on the way they had joined in together, as the latest additions to our Plume family.

“Much praise is also due to our own students who threw themselves into hosting activities and demonstrated yet again how young people somehow manage to overcome all communication barriers and quickly develop friendships over a shared interest in football, music and mobile phones – and Google Translate of course.”

One Plume student said: “I had an amazing day with our guests and made some lovely friends.”