Mags and Ken Whiting, seen here with CCP Director Linda Walker, played a key role in Chernobyl Children’s Project for over 25 years.
Ken passed away peacefully this week, aged 96. Mags had died six months earlier and Ken promised her then that it would not be long before he came to join her.
In April 1995 Mags and Ken drove an ambulance out to Belarus, the country most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and they fell in love with the country and its people.
They had just retired when they joined the newly launched Chernobyl Children’s Project, but they soon became busier than ever, driving five more ambulances across Europe and organising and leading aid convoys to Belarus. The ambulances were given to hospitals in some of the most contaminated areas and lorry loads of aid provided support for orphanages, schools and family associations.
Mags and Ken took on the running of the local group of the charity, finding host families, organising activities and welcoming children into their own home too for a recuperative holiday. In the early years the charity invited children from some of the most contaminated villages in Belarus, but later focused on children in remission from cancer. Most of those who stayed in Glossop were young children who travelled with their mums.
Mags and Ken have been at the centre of the development of the charity since the beginning, inspiring people to start groups in other towns and supporting all our work in Belarus. No-one could have been more dedicated to supporting the children whose lives had been affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
When Mags and Ken retired from running the group in Glossop there was a huge party with many host families from the past coming to thank them for their 20 years of hard work, brightening the lives of Belarusian children. And when they stepped down from the Management Team the charity made them ‘Honorary Trustees.’
They will both live on in the hearts of many people whose lives they touched over the years and they will continue to inspire our ongoing work to support children and young people in Belarus.