Portsmouth/Hayling Link  

CCLL Conference Page

Victor Mizzi M.B.E. - Chairman/Trustee/Founder.

 

This years CCLL Conference was held at the Hayes Hotel Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. 

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The conference was very well supported.   

 

Our link was represented by two of our members, Marian Stapley (Chair Person) and Stacy Lunn  

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We asked Marian and Stacy to comment on how she had viewed the conference.  

 

Marian Stapley - (Chair Person)

The Conference was a real eye opener for me.  If anyone was in any doubt why the Links do what they do, they only had to be at the Conference.  It was lovely to meet up with Chairs from other Links.

We have no lack of enthusiasm in our Link, but on the same note, I would have liked everybody to have been there to experience and to hear reports and actually see pictures of the Reactor number 4.  One of the most amazing things for me was the report from Victor and Dennis from their visit to Chernobyl.  It made it seem much more real.

For me, even having visited Belarus twice, and having seen first hand certain aspects, the reality of watching reports made of the ongoing situation, was still really tough and emotional.

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go out there, to make the journey.  It makes what we do, far more real and worthwhile.  After listening to one of the trustees talk about having visited Belarus to meet the families and children later that month, I have decided to do the same myself.   I think this will be a huge benefit to not only the children visiting, but to their families as well.  I intend to take photo albums of our Host Families with me, so the children and their families will have an idea of who and where the children will be staying with for the next month.  My visit will also give them a familiar face to greet them when they arrive in the UK.

All in all, the weekend for me was both interesting and informative.  Well worth going!  (and as Stacy said...the food was great!)

 

Stacy Lunn 

The conference was a great experience which I would recommend to everyone. We laughed ,cried and ate very well!

The talks were both informative and emotional and certainly reminded me of how important the visits are for the children. I learnt about the current situation at the Chernobyl  site and the plans for it’s future. There were also speakers from both Belarus and Ukraine and it was good to hear how things are arranged for the visits from  their end, particularly Ukraine as this is a new thing for them. It really brought home how desperately the parents want the children to come to England as they have so much form filling and paperwork to do at their end and it isn’t always easy for them to even get to the meetings let alone get visas and make it to the airport.

I also learnt about the hardships the families face when their children are admitted to the Cancer hospital, it is not just the obvious situation of having a very sick child. Children stay from a year to as much as three years in hospital so families are separated  and one parent must give up work to be with their child which puts a financial strain upon them and the parent at home must cope with working and looking after any other children .This could simply be because the family live too far from Minsk to travel for chemo.

We also heard a lot about the selection of children, but in my eyes all the children are deserving -radiation doesn’t discriminate and nor should we. It was good to hear from one of the speakers saying how she had initially presumed we must all be wealthy to provide for these visits but she knew the work we put into to raising funds for the trip and that they were eternally grateful. She said that when an invitation arrives in a family it is like a bomb has gone off in the house.  I don’t think we can underestimate the importance to them.

In the Stolen district of Brest (which is in the south of Belarus near to the border of Ukraine) there are 11,500 children in the affected area that need respite and this is just one part of one area .We were told how much they appreciate our Dentist trips ( even if the kids don’t!) and that in many rural areas there would be no access to an optician at all.

The speaker from Ukraine said "you cannot imagine or comprehend the complex benefits to the children" She also said she would go home and explain to others that you don’t have to have a lot to give help to others.

In fact it was a very humbling experience to listen to these ladies.

On the main CCLL web site there is a Gallery  of photos which show the event and the presentations can be found on the Conference Link

 

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Marian even had time to put some water in her Gin!

Sorry glass!