POLICE in Widnes laid on the VIP treatment for a group of 10 youngsters whose home town was affected by radioactive fallout from the infamous Chernobyl disaster.
The group was given a tour of Widnes Police Station and the kids had a chance to take a close look at various equipment and vehicles used by officers in their fight against crime.
The visit included a look at a police motorbike and a traffic patrol car and the children got to try on police high visibility coats and hats. One of the boys had a go at being breath-tested and two others were even handcuffed!
And PC Bryn Majid gave them a demonstration of how a 'stinger' is used and a talk about police motorbikes.
The children, from Mogilev in Belarus, spent a month in the UK during which they visited Chester Zoo, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the Blue Planet Aquarium.
The Widnes visit was the idea of Frank Rose, contingency planning officer for Halton Police, who thought a tour of the police station would be ideal for the youngsters who had no interaction with the police in their own country before. One of the group, 12-year-old Veronika, known as Nika, was staying with Frank and his family.
The holiday was arranged by the Chernobyl Children Lifeline which was set up to give youngsters a respite visit to the UK.
Statistics show a month in Britain can extend their lives by two years thanks to the fresh food and an environment with one ninth of the background radiation.
Frank said: 'Veronika lives about 70 miles from Chernobyl in Belarus, formerly part of the USSR, with her mum, dad and four-year-old brother in a two-bedroom flat. Her home town took the brunt of the fallout.'
'You feel tremendously saddened at the thought that they don't have many of the things we take for granted here. Their house water goes off six hours a day and power cuts are regular.
'By bringing them to the UK it gives the children a medical respite. Veronika looks less pale, has gained some weight and is a lot more relaxed. The charity has said we can go to Mogilev to visit her next year, however they recommend we only visit for seven days as the background radiation is nine times what it is here.
'What we have hopefully done during her stay is given her a wonderful holiday.'
Veronika said: 'I like England and have visited many places. I like chips from the chip shop, but no salt or vinegar!'