A LITTLE girl suffering beneath the long shadow of Chernobyl needs Swindon’s help.

Eight-year-old cancer patient Darina Krokhotkina lives in Bordynka, Ukraine, where the radioactive legacy of the massive nuclear disaster in 1986 continues to blight lives.

Her schoolteacher mum, Tanya, is a volunteer interpreter for the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity, which brings children to Britain for respite trips. Doctors say the trips can add years to life expectancy.

Last year Tanya brought a party of children to Swindon for a trip organised by the Old Town branch, but this year her own daughter was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma over her spine.

Now the charity is organising a fundraising dinner to pay Darina’s medical bills and bring mother and daughter over for a respite trip of their own.

“Tanya is beside herself,“ said Lynette Corengia, who chairs the Old Town branch. “She has done so much by coming over here with other children to give them a chance, but now her daughter needs to come over and she hasn’t got the money.

“Darina has had two operations so far. The last I heard was that she has to have full body scans to check whether the cancer has spread. We’re waiting for the results and praying that it hasn’t spread – that they got it in time.”

Tanya was 10 when the nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing deadly material into the atmosphere.

Bordynka, a town about the same size as Royal Wootton Bassett, was on the main route along which truckloads of radioactive rubble were driven in the days and weeks after the disaster.

The radioactivity affected not just those alive at the time but also the generations that followed, with surges in birth defects, unusual childhood cancers and general sickliness.

Tanya was so kind to the children in her care during last year’s visit that Lynette made certain to get in touch during a recent fact-finding trip to the region.

“She was in a terrible state,” Lynette said. “The doctor told her Darina needed to come to England for the fresh air. She needs our help.”

Because the charity caters for parties of children, that help is being organised as a separate project. On Saturday, November 17 at the Alexandra House hotel and conference centre in Wroughton, there will be a fundraising dinner dance with a three course meal, live music and a disco.

Tickets cost £30, and anybody wanting one, or who wishes to help Darina, should call Lynette on 01793 531597 or visit the charity’s shop in Victoria Road.