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Children from Chernobyl Visit Inverness Search and Rescue Base

August 31, 2016

HM Coastguard’s civilian search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base at Inverness Airport welcomed a group of 16 children from Belarus, on Tuesday 30th of August, as part of the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children annual month-long recuperative holiday.

The Moray arm of the children’s charity was set up in 2015 to support families and young people who have been adversely affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Each year the charity hosts a group of children who visit the UK for a month to escape the rising summer radiation levels. As part of this holiday period the charity arranges a variety of activities for the children to enjoy and places of interest to visit.

The children were taken on a tour of the HM Coastguard SAR facility and shown what happens when the crew is tasked to a rescue. They got to sit in the helicopter inside the hangar and to see the on-board equipment. The engineers also showed them the base fire engine and how they look after the two aircraft.

Pete Netherton, helicopter engineer at Inverness SAR, said: “This is the second year that my wife and I have hosted a child in our home; she is called Dasha and has just turned nine. All the Morayshire host families will host the same children for five years. It is remarkable how much they have changed from when we first saw them last year as they much healthier and more confident and with much better appetites.

“Luckily we didn’t get tasked during the visit so we got to show them around and to answer their many questions. The initiative is important on many levels, from providing health benefits to memorable experiences, and we hope that they have enjoyed their time with us once again.”

Helen Janousek from Friends of Chernobyl’s Children - Moray said: “The main aim of the charity is to offer a month of respite for young children from Belarus that have been greatly affected by the radiation fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. The charity focuses on disadvantaged children that would otherwise have no way of accessing any of the fresh water, food or air that we can offer them for their month with us.

“Host families have already had a successful visit in 2015 and host the same children on each stay for five years, from when the children are seven until they are 13. It's been shown that if these children can have this month of respite every year for five years, that their immune systems can recover enough to extend their life expectantly significantly.

“We usually spend the first week of the children's visit visiting the dentist, opticians, etc and allowing the group to settle into their new surroundings. Most children on this visit came last year but there are a few new ones and we are seeing the benefit of the trip already. It means the world that Bristow Helicopters and Her Majesty’s Coastguard allowed us to visit the SAR base in Inverness.”

The Inverness SAR base is operated by Bristow Helicopters Limited on behalf of HM Coastguard. It was one of the first of the ten civilian SAR helicopter bases to become operational between April 2015 and April 2017.

Bristow Helicopters was awarded the ten year UK SAR contract by the Department for Transport in March 2013 and currently delivers the service from nine bases strategically located close to areas of high SAR incident rates. The final base, at Lee-On-Solent, will come under the UK SAR contract in April 2017.

About HM Coastguard
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport.

Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.

About Bristow Helicopters Ltd
Bristow Helicopters Ltd is the provider of helicopter search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of Her Majesty's Coastguard, having been awarded the UK SAR contract and the Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing world class SAR services in the UK, beginning in 1971 and has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by our crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit

Bristow Helicopters Ltd. has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. is an affiliated company of Bristow Group Inc.

About the Charity
Friends of Chernobyl's Children is a registered charity that funds and organises yearly visits for Belarusian children from disadvantaged social backgrounds to the UK, where they stay with host families for temporary recuperative care. The charity targets particularly needy children from seven to twelve years of age, who are often in need of dental and medical attention, education, and tender loving care. The children, from the badly contaminated areas of Belarus, come for one month every year for five consecutive years, which has been shown to have a significant effect up on their overall quality of life, their happiness, health and well-being.