Peterborough couple continue to transform lives after more than 20 years

A couple who have spent more than two decades raising money to help transform youngsters’ lives following a huge nuclear disaster have pledged to continue to help families who are still suffering.

Saturday, 19th January 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:57 pm
Rosie with Anya

John and Rosie Sandall, from Apsley Way, Longthorpe, have been making the cross continent journey to Ukraine for the last 22 years to help families still suffering from the devastating impact of the Chernobyl disaster.

Their latest trip - timed to coincide with the Russian Orthodox Christmas - was their 46th, and they delivered gifts to the many severely disabled people they support there.

Rosie said: “We had a very successful trip although it was very snowy and minus 15 but as always we received a very warm welcome from all the people we support.”

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Chernobyl pictures from Jon and Rosie Sandall EMN-140226-151818001

Much of the money raised has been through fundraising sales - and John thanked Peterborough Telegraph readers who have helped their campaign.

In December the couple received the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Peterborough Telegraph’s Pride in Peterborough awards for their years of work helping families in Ukraine.

Rosie said while the country had changed a great deal since the late 90s, there was still more to be done.

She said: “Ukraine has changed a lot since we first went there. It’s much more Westernised now.

Chernobyl pictures from Jon and Rosie Sandall EMN-140226-152010001

“Unfortunately, the people we help are still in a similar situation. There is very little help for disabled people in Ukraine.

“Most of our disabled friends haven’t been to school and so have no friends.

“Disabled people are still outcast in Ukraine and most disabled people stay indoors, something we would love to change.

“We are now supporting a centre for disabled young people which provides a lifeline for them, and a break for their mums who are their carers.”

Peterborough Telegraph Pride in Peterborough Awards 2018. Solstice sponsor Mary Boyle with Lifetime Achievement winners John and Rosie Sandall. EMN-181112-003651009

When the pair first went to visit, they said they did not expect to return - but after realising the problems many faced, they continued to go back.

Rosie said: “We regularly visit several families whom we met on our first trip. People like Anya who was seven when we first visited and who will be 30 in July.

“We never expected to keep on visiting, but we have so many people to support there now that we can’t imagine retiring yet. We will definitely be back in Chernigov in August, and we hope people still continue to support us.”

The couple are now collecting donations of household items for their next sale which will be held from 10am to noon on Saturday, March 30 at All Saints’ Church Hall, Park Road, Peterborough (opposite Central Park).

Donations for the sale can be delivered to 51 Apsley Way, Longthorpe, Peterborough, PE3 9NZ.