A HALTON police officer has enjoyed playing host to two young people from Belarus who are visiting the UK with the help of the Chernobyl Children Lifeline charity.
The charity, which was set up after the Chernobyl disaster in 1985, arranges for children to spend time in the UK to provide them with much-needed respite.
Two of the 12 children stayed with Frank Rose, who is the contingency planning officer for Halton Police.
A highlight of the trip was a visit to Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford, where all 12 youngster became honorary police officers for the day. They were welcomed by Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard and presented with their own police helmets.
The group then enjoyed a tour around the Resource Deployment Centre where Inspector Russell Barnes and Sergeant Chris Davis showed them the hub of the organisation. The children got to see where 999 and non emergency calls are answered and where the police response to incidents is co-ordinated.
Next it was on to see some of the force's specialist units including road policing, dog handling and the recently established Area Support Group which assists officers across the force area with pre-planned operations and response incidents. Officers were on hand to talk about their work and to show the youngsters around some of the equipment and vehicles they use.
Staying with Frank and his family are Nika, who also stayed with Frank last year, and Julia.
Frank said: 'I wanted the children to look around the police headquarters because when they ask me what I do, and I say I work for the police, they seem quite suspicious. That's because the police here are different to what they are used to in Belarus.
'However, now that they have been here they can see for themselves how approachable the British police are.
'The visit was fantastic. The children couldn't believe the building, the sheer size of it, how modern and well-equipped it was and how orderly everything appeared.
'When they visited the control room, a few of them said it looked like something from a film, with all the screens and people working. One of them said it looked like NASA! And, of course, they enjoyed seeing the police dogs, bikes and cars.'
Of Nika's second visit, he said: 'She seems a lot more relaxed this year, obviously, because she knows our family well after last year. We are seeing a lot more of her character shining through this time around.
'The girls have had a great time. They have been to a lot of activities as a group this year, and they are busy most days, but they have found time to do a lot of horse-riding and dog-walking too.
'Back home, the girls live in apartments and pets are not allowed, so it is quite an experience for them to walk the dog.'
Because of the high levels of radiation where the children live in Belarus, the month-long visit to the UK is a medical respite that can increase their life expectancy by up to five years.
The children are accompanied by Elena Biryukova, English teacher at School No. 3, Mogilev City, who had never before been to the UK.
She said: 'The children were very impressed with what they saw at the police station, particularly the motorcycles, cars and the dogs.
'One of the main advantages the children get from visits like this is that they get to practise their English. The school they go to is a language school and the pupils learn English from aged six, but it is only through talking to native speak-ers and using the language in this country that their skills can really develop.
'They also get to learn a lot more about the history, customs, traditions of the country, as well as visiting many places they might never get the chance to see again. They have all been very happy here and don't want to go home!'
One of the children, Dima, said: 'I enjoyed riding on the motorbike, and sitting in the car at the police station. England is a very beautiful country with very friendly people. I also enjoyed going to Sun Centre (Rhyl), Camelot and Blackpool.'
Officers and police staff have given small donations to the children as spending money to help them buy some souvenirs of their visit to the UK.