Chernobyl child hosted in Tow Law, County Durham given refuge in same house 20 years later

A Chernobyl child who came to County Durham to escape radiation has been given refuge by the same family, in the same house, two decades later.

Oksana Glazkova was first taken in by Deborah Suddes in 2001 as part of a scheme to give Ukrainian children a break from the nuclear fallout.

She has now returned with her children to escape a different threat - the war in Ukraine.

"Yesterday, when I came to this house, I remembered everything," she said. "It’s incredible."

Deborah and Oksana 21 years ago. Credit: Family photo

Accepted under the Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme after staying in touch with Deborah, Oksana had to leave her husband behind after escaping the occupied city of Melitopol.

The charity Love Bristol helped Oksana while she was in Poland and supported the process of her getting to County Durham.

Deborah is deeply moved to be reunited with her old friend, but wishes they were doing so under different circumstances.

"I can remember at Newcastle Airport this little girl with hair right down to her bum, with one little bag," she told ITV Tyne Tees.

Long-haired Oksana on her first visit. Credit: Family photo.

"It’s wonderful to see that she’s grown into a lovely young lady with two beautiful boys and it’s just a shame that these unfortunate events have brought her back, instead of a happier trip with her husband."

"I’m so glad you are in my life, in my life, in my parents' life and my kids’ life," replied Oksana.

"You opened your heart. You opened your house for me. It’s a big big treasure for me."