Rotarians from all the Wolverhampton clubs set to with a will to plant crocus bulbs in aid of polio eradication . they were joined by the Friends of Bantock Park and children from Penn Fields Special and Merridale Primary Schools.
Leading the planting teams were The Mayor and Mayoress Councillor Elias and Mrs. Asha Mattu.
All the local Rotary clubs mounted this joint effort to raise public awareness and gather donations in support of Rotary International’s 30 year campaign, which is nearing a successful conclusion, to rid the world of the scourge of polio.In 1985, the campaign was launched. At that time, there were over 1000 new cases somewhere in the world every day, leaving children paralysed and having to spend their lives in iron lungs, because one of the many tragic effects of contracting the disease was to leave them unable to breathe unaided. Since then, Rotary has contributed more than £1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunise more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries to fight the disease. In 2017, as of December 2017 there has only been a total of 15 new cases, these occurring in Pakistan and Afghanistan and one in Nigeria, which was was quickly prevented from spreading by an extensive immunisation effort.
Rotary’s efforts are supplemented by generous financial support at a rate of 2:1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and by working in partnership with the World Health Organisation..
With the aid of local schools, voluntary support groups and the City of Wolverhampton Parks Service, 50,000 purple crocus were planted in 5 public spaces around the city. These were:
Tettenhall Upper Green, West Park, Bantock Park, Wednesfield Community Centre and the Bert Williams Leisure Centre, Bilston.
The purple crocus is the worldwide symbol of the mass immunisation programme whereby children have a purple dye painted onto their small finger nail to show they have received the vaccine. The dye enables the Rotarians and the World Health Organisation nurses to ensure that no child has been missed in the ensuing days before the dye fades.
When the crocus emerge in spring, they will be a lasting reminder of the part Wolverhampton has played in this vital effort.
In a separate initiative, the clubs were kindly given permission by Kelly Jeffs, the Manager of Lighthouse Cinema to collect donations from filmgoers attending each showing of the film ‘Breathe,’ a highly acclaimed film telling the true story of Robin Cavendish. He was unable to move from the neck down after contracting polio at the age of 28, and became a worldwide leading advocate for the disabled.
When the last incidence of polio has occurred, there will need to be 3 years of funded surveillance to ensure that no new cases have arisen, and then the day will have come when this dreadful disease will be banished forever.
The Rotary Clubs involved were Wolverhampton, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton St. Georges, Wednesfield, Willenhall and Bilston and Wolverhampton West.
Rotary is the worlds largest voluntary service organisation, open to men and women of all ages. For further details visit www,rotary gbi.org, where enquirers can be directed to any local club..