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A Day Out At Doune For Chernobyl Children: Belarus Youngsters On A Break In Ayrshire

21 August 2009

Stunning Stirlingshire stronghold Doune Castle welcomed a special party of young visitors last week – a group of children from Belarus.  

The 20 boys and girls, aged between 8 and 14, are currently enjoying a four-week visit to Scotland, staying with host families in Ayrshire.  Their trip has been organised by the Ayrshire branch or ‘link’ of the charity Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline.  It raises funds to support children from Belarus and Ukraine whose lives will be forever affected by the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, and provides recuperative holidays and medical treatment for the innocent victims whose environment has been polluted permanently.

During their visit to the imposing 14th century courtyard castle, the children enjoyed a guided tour, learned about the property’s history, and dressed up in period costumes.  They also had fun trying their hand at some traditional crafts including wood turning and weaving rush hats in interactive sessions organised by Historic Scotland’s Education Unit and led by craft demonstrators The Crafty Beggars.

Kirsten Wood, Historic Scotland Education Officer, said: “We were delighted to be able to arrange this event as part of our Education Unit’s ongoing work to support children from disadvantaged areas and provide them with enjoyable and enriching learning experiences.  Our ‘hands on’ craft demonstrations are always very popular and as well as being fun, they really bring history to life and help the children find out about how people lived in the past.  We hope the Belarus group enjoyed their day with us –everyone at Doune Castle certainly did.”

Itinerary Coordinator of the Ayrshire link of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, Lisa Lafferty said: “The children were very excited about their trip to Doune Castle and they certainly weren’t disappointed. They all had a wonderful day out and had a great time taking part in all the activities which were arranged for them.  Everyone really appreciated their visit and it’s definitely something they’ll remember for a long time.”


  • Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline was established in 1992.  Since then, over 150 Links have been established throughout the United Kingdom, raising money to support the children of Belarus and Ukraine affected by the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  These innocent victims have to deal with the harshest of living conditions and the continuous effects of the disaster.

    The charity’s work is focused on four core activities: 1) raising funds to bring over 4,000 children to the UK each year for four weeks of fresh air, uncontaminated food, dental and eye check-ups, and a fun holiday 2) providing a basic income, when there is no state support, so that over 1,000 needy families can buy clean food 3) building a laundry, and focal point for the community, with a regular supply of hot water for showers 4) funding respite camps in Belarus for the children, and their families, who are too ill to travel; these facilities also have specialist medical resources and nursing.  For further information on the charity, visit: or contact Micael Lafferty on 07813 650411.

  • Built for the Regent Albany, Doune Castle is a magnificent late 14th-century courtyard castle.  Its most striking feature is the keepgatehouse which included the splendid restored Duke’s Hall with its musicians’ gallery, double fireplace and carved oak screen.  Doune Castle is in Doune, 10 miles north-west of Stirling off the A84; postcode FK16 6EA.

  • Doune Castle is one of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country.  Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys. Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment. For further details of all Historic Scotland’s sites visit:

  • Historic Scotland is committed to maximising the unique learning opportunities presented for all ages by the properties in its care.  Its Education Unit provides a comprehensive programme of initiatives, activities and resource materials aimed at encouraging children and adults to learn about Scotland’s history and culture.  It also offers a diverse range of imaginative learning opportunities to realise the educational potential of Historic Scotland sites.  These include a varied and colourful range of activities designed specifically for school groups, such as themed tours, costumed role-play, drama, storytelling, re-enactments, art and design, traditional crafts, medieval music and dancing.  The emphasis is on raising awareness of Scotland’s built heritage and encouraging children to appreciate its importance, both locally and nationally, in giving us an insight into our past and our cultural identity.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting Homecoming Scotland 2009 with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871