Purple crocuses raise awareness

Knaresborough Rotarians joined residents and a red dinosaur on the Appleby estate to plant purple crocuses as part of their work in publicising World Polio Day.

The crocuses are a reminder of the purple dye used to mark the left little finger, the ‘purple pinkie’, of children given the Polio vaccine by immunisation teams in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan where Polio is still endemic.

Crocuses have also been planted on the green outside the church in Farnham and on Knaresborough Railway Station. To mark World Polio day on October 24, Knaresborough Castle was also floodlit in purple.

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Spokesman for Knaresborough Rotary, Brian Souter, said: “Everyone’s focus is on COVID19 at present and the search for a vaccine.

“Only one disease, Smallpox, has been eradicated before; Polio will be the second.

“Since 1985 Rotary has been working to eradicate this awful disease. The infrastructure set up to deliver Polio vaccine can also be used to deliver other vaccines, including Covid19 when one is developed.”

Knaresborough Rotary has raised over £21,000 for the End Polio campaign in the last 11 years and was awarded a certificate of commendation for its work in 2019-20 by the President of Rotary International.

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Polio was eradicated from the UK in 1982 but children in this country still receive the Polio vaccine.

Among the survivors of childhood Polio is TV celebrity Mary Berry, of ‘Bake-off’ fame, who describes the experience in her autobiography.

Other well-known survivors include Mia Farrow, golfer Gary Player, actor Don Sutherland, historian David Starkey, Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu and the late John Thaw.

It is possible to donate to Knaresborough Rotary Club’s End Polio at ‘My Donate Knaresborough Rotary Club’. Visit endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.

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Since Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, in 1985, the incidence of polio worldwide has plummeted by more than 99.9 per cent, from about 350,000 cases a year to just 102 so far this year as of October 7.

Only Afghanistan and Pakistan still have endemic Polio. Africa was recently declared Polio free.