Purple for Polio Campaign – Crocus planting on The Green, Devizes
The following news item appeared in the Gazette and Herald on Sat 8th Nov:
School pupils to plant bulbs to help beat polio
By Joanne Moore
PUPILS from Devizes School will help plant thousands of purple bulbs to highlight the plight of Polio victims in poor countries. They will be joining members of Devizes Rotary Club and Devizes Mayor Jane Burton at 10am on October 15 on The Green in Devizes as part of a national Rotary initiative.
Around 30 children from Year 7 will take part in the End Polio Now campaign.
Alan Martin from Devizes Rotary said: “The children who are to helping will probably have no real understanding of why they are planting purple crocus corms and no real knowledge of the plight of polio victims, especially in the Third World. They will also not realise that less than 50 years ago, many children in this country had to wear calipers while many others, men, women and children spent their time on their backs in iron lungs to aid their breathing.”
He said that since 1985 Rotarian have contributed more than $1.6 billion and countless volunteer hours to fight polio. “The fight continues and every dollar raised and committed to polio eradication will now be matched, two to one, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, up to $35 million a year.”
Mr Martin attended a conference in New Orleans where Mr Gates spoke about the fundraising. Mr Martin said: “I heard Bill Gates speak, offering his support and saying ‘We are almost there.’ He is of course right, but we are not there yet.” He said that just recently three cases of polio were reported in Nigeria which had previously been free of the disease since 2014. He said: “Rapid response plans are now in action to stop the outbreak quickly and prevent its spread. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are now acting to immunise children in Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad Basin – Chad, Cameroon Niger and the Central African Republic. Polio has no respect for National boundaries.”