DOZENS of children had just one thing to say as they swapped their Belarus homeland for Hartlepool’s biggest tourist attraction - it’s brilliant.
Twenty youngsters from eastern Europe were in town as part of a month-long stay in the Tees Valley.
All of them live in a country which is still feeling the effects of the disaster which rocked the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine in April 1986.
Huge quantities of radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere, and Belarus remains one of the worst affected countries.
But each year, the Chernobyl Childrens Lifeline group arranges for groups of children to stay in the UK.
Margaret Cundall is the chairman of the Teesside branch of the charity and this year, children aged nine and 10 have spent time visiting attractions including Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.
Margaret said: “Belarus was one of the countries worst affected by the Chernobyl disaster and the children come here to get away from the contamination. It has been proved that four weeks of eating clean food will rid the body of between 65 and 95 per cent of the radiation.
“And it takes up to two years for it to build up to that level again.”
The children got to enjoy a tour of HMS Trincomalee and look round the Fighting Ships display.
As well as visiting tourist attractions, the youngsters were also given eyesight and dentist checks.
The group’s translater Tania Vaskovskaia was on her 14th trip and said: “For the children, it is really unusual to be here. Everything is different beginning with the houses and the food.
It is nothing like at home where they have no entertainment and hardly any shops. They all think it is absolutely amazing here. It is a new world for them.”
And their most popular word has been used a lot in the visit to Hartlepool. “It’s class,” they agreed.