Old Pictures Raise £1,500


Old Rye Pictures helped to Raise £1,500 at the Riverside

British Aid for Deprived Children

By Martin Carter

Three years ago, Stuart Pope and I joined the ‘Convoy Of Hope’ driving trucks full of locally collected aid to Kosovo. This was run by a small privately run charity called British Humanitarian Aid and comprised of vehicles – small vans, trucks, a coach and an articulated lorry driven by volunteers from all over the country.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Rye, Councillor and Mrs. Peter Dyce
The Mayor and Mayoress of Rye, Councillor and Mrs. Peter Dyce

During this convoy Stuart and myself became friendly with a man called George Mills and he started telling us stories of his own charity run under the umbrella of British Humanitarian Aid.

He told of a Dr. P (Pasechnickh) whom he had met in 1995 on an earlier aid convoy to the Ukraine.

Dr. P had been allotted an old derelict kindergarten building, one of a complex of six, to establish a rehabilitation for the child victims of Chernobyl. This building in a town called Chernigov needed gutting and rebuilding to enable treatment to begin. Chernigov is situated 17 miles from the exclusion zone of Chernobyl and only one child in every 100 is free from sickness. There was one little problem though – they had no money!

George and his wife Marion were so moved by Dr. P and the plight of the children he sought to treat that they vowed to help. They promised to return with as many items on his shopping list as possible. Dr. P. had received promises before but nothing had materialised. George kept his word and construction began. One year later the Revival Centre opened its doors to its first little patients.

In the first year approx. 200 children each received 24 days treatment; in 2001, 1200 received medical help.

Revival has now extended to 3 buildings, all rooms are designed for the rehabilitation of children: – Physiotherapy, Dental surgeries, Gymnasium, Aromatherapy, Sewing, Computers, School, Hydro Massage Baths, Music, Canteen, Woodwork etc.

Outside there is now a beautiful Peace Garden with Fountains, an Adventure Park, Running Track and Play Area. Eight Ambulances have been purchased in England and driven out there. The dedicated staff of Doctors, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Teachers, Cleaners and helpers have made what was a derelict building into the best rehabilitation centre in the Ukraine.

The work to maintain and extend the facilities is ongoing and continuous. The next ambitious project is to construct a swimming pool to give specialised treatment to paralysed children. This will cost tens of thousands of pounds.

George and Marion (who are far from young!) drive their van to Cherigov six times a year taking all kinds of sanitary, hygiene, medical supplies as well as food. He has a band of helpers so there is usually at least one other vehicle to accompany him. The round trip is 3500 miles, they drive for up to 17 hours a day, the temperature can be as low as 30 below and getting through the German / Polish and Polish / Ukraine borders is a nightmare.

After every trip George sends out a news sheet with a diary of the trip to his helpers, donors and supporters and every time we got one Stuart and I used to say “We must do something to raise funds for George”. But what? George lives in Essex so he’s not locally known and his work is low profile and not on the television or in the papers.

Two and a half years after we first tried to think of what to do, Stuart was talking to Noel Varley about our dilemma. He immediately offered to give a slide show and talk on old Rye with his enormous collection of pictures.

The aim was to hold a cheese and wine evening with a slide show on Wednesday 6 February.

Noel, a long standing Rotarian presented the idea to the International Committee of the Rotary Club of Rye and Winchelsea who willingly took on the event. The club mostly assists local beneficiaries but also gives to National and International charitable causes including a New York club to help bereaved families after September 11 and a large tent and sleeping bags of Afghanistan.

George supplied some photos of the Revival Centre which were copied to slides for free by a contact in London. Items for the raffle and auction were donated from town shops and anybody else we could think of to solicit! Items varied from packs of coffee to the use of a rubbish skip, an old skip, an old ships porthole and some ornaments made of hand turned wood. The cheese and wine were donated and we were given the use of The Riverside Restaurant for the whole evening.

Well over 100 people came to the event and when the slides of the work at the Revival Centre were shown there were gasps from the audience at a picture of George. He was sitting in front of a window with the infamous Chernobyl Power Station in the near background. This put the whole thing into perspective.

All of us locals enjoyed the pictures of old Rye and Jim Hollands auction entertained everybody as well as extracting £450 from the bidders.

Even the wine didn’t run out – nobody left thirsty!

All in all a thoroughly enlightening and entertaining evening – £1500 was raised and not one penny was spent thanks to everyone’s generosity.

Its an understatement to say that George was overwhelmed. Our grateful thanks to everyone who helped and donated.

From “Rye’s Own” March 2002 issue.