Simon Bailes Peugeot organised a day to remember for 16 budding sailors from an area still affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.

The day was part of the company’s ongoing support for the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Northallerton Group.

During their stay the excited youngsters – nine girls and seven boys – were taken to the Royal Quays Marina in North Shields to spend the day with Ocean Youth Trust North.

The crew of the charity’s 70ft steel hulled yacht James Cook welcomed them aboard for their adventure on the River Tyne. Due to the size of the group, four of the children joined a powerboat instructor in a rigid hulled inflatable boat – taking it in turns to steer!

The flotilla tied up next to the Milennium Bridge for lunch before embarking on the return trip – with the children especially keen to teach the crew Russian.

The charity offers a unique experience to youngsters across the North, using the medium of sailing to broaden their personal and social development.

Caroline Saunders, of Ocean Youth Trust North, said: “They were the youngest crew we’ve had aboard the James Cook, the smallest being just seven-years-old.

“They were so excited, and everyone had a wonderful time. After we tied up at our home berth, the staff were completely mobbed by the children, all giving big bear hugs to express their gratitude.”

Simon Bailes, CEO of Simon Bailes Peugeot, said: “The sail day was just one of many fun-filled activities organised for the children and by the size of their smiles, they had a truly fantastic day out on the Tyne.

“I’m pleased to have been able to provide them with some very happy memories to return home with.”

The Friends of Chernobyl charity group was founded 25 years ago to relieve the suffering caused by the ongoing after-effects of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

It funds annual four-week visits to the UK for children still living in the contaminated area of Belarus. Each visiting child stays with a caring host family and enjoys visits to a local doctor, dentist and optician for health and wellbeing checks as well as a variety of fun days out.