To Chernobyl – with love

A CUMBERNAULD man has written a book about the tireless aid work he has undertaken to help the victims of the catastrophic nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

Next Tuesday (April 26) week marks the 25th anniversary of the nuclear accident which sent poisonous clouds of fallout across Europe and Abronhill man Jim Gillies has had his own particular way of marking the date.

For Jim (70) from Birch Road has now published ‘To Chernobyl With Love’ via a specially set-up website. All proceeds will be donated to the victims of Chernobyl.

The retired engineer who lives in Abronhill needs no introduction to News readers for his missions which see him bring medical supplies to a hospital in the Ukrainian town of Malin.

He also stages an annual vigil in George Square on April 26 and of course this year will be no exception as he reflects on the quarter of a century that’s passed since Reactor Number 4 went into meltdown.

His quest began two decades ago after he received a mysterious anonymous letter to his home, pleading with him to help the young patients in the ramshackle medical facilities. Many had thyroid cancer and leukaemia after being exposed to radiation.

Although Jim provided the text for the book via interviews, it was journalist friend Murray Scougall who put the book together.

Murray had covered Jim’s vigils for a national newspaper and and the two men stayed in touch.

A friend of Murray’s suggested that he should write a book about Jim and Jim liked the sound of that too

The finished product catalogues mild-mannered Jim’s solo journey into the ghostly exclusion zone, his shock at seeing the state of the rat-infested hospital, his brushes with police and criminals and even his experience of seeing the so-called Orange Revolution unfolding in Ukraine.

“At first I wasn’t sure how to go about it but because of Murray’s help, we put the book together in a few months. There’s been a few hold-ups with the publication but we managed to get it done in time for the anniversary which is obviously what we wanted,” said Jim.

“I’m pleased with the way it has come out - obviously I have never done anything like this before - but it goes into a bit more detail about what I’ve been doing while helping to raise money too,” said Jim.

Jim has plans for Easter as he has been invited to dine with members of the Ukrainian community in Edinburgh, as they celebrate this special feast day – and has the perfect gift for them.

“I am going to bring along a couple of copies of the book for them so hopefully they’ll enjoy reading it!’’ said Jim.

The book priced £7.99 is available from [email protected] It is also available at Cumbernauld Library.

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