The President of Cirencester Rotary Club Mark Wilton issued a statement of thanks to the people of Cirencester on Saturday 24th October, World Polio Day, for their support of the Rotary International campaign to End Polio Now. This has resulted in the recent declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the African Region has not had a case of polio for more than 2 years and so has been certified as being Polio Free!
Rotary began a global campaign in 1988 to rid the world of the devastating effects of polio. It initially linked up with the WHO and UNICEF to get the project launched, becoming the WHO’s ninth biggest donor in 2018-19, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who have multiple matched every pound (or dollar) Rotary have raised each year. The Rotary Club of Cirencester have consistently supported the campaign and thanks to local fundraising have donated more than £10,000 to the project.
President Mark Wilton said: “Every year we have a day of packing customers’ shopping at Waitrose or Tesco, which helps the stores on peak Christmas and Easter days to keep the traffic flowing through the checkouts. We are very thankful to the stores for allowing us to help out and to collect donations, half of which go to our own Local projects and half go to the End Polio Now project.”
Cirencester Rotary club also buy a batch of purple crocus every year from the Rotary Purple for Polio team and plant them in parks and schools around the Town and in surrounding villages. There are two big plantings in St Michael’s park and the Abbey Grounds which are a lovely spring-time reminder of the support the town’s people have made to the Rotary End Polio Now project. The purple is significant as it’s the colour of dye children’s figures are dipped into, to signify they have received their inoculation.
Mark added: “We are very appreciative of the support the people of Cirencester and our members have given to this project. One of our members, Alan Rice-Smith, went a step further a couple of years ago and gave up some of his annual leave to go to India to help as a volunteer in the inoculation programme and which has resulted in the country now being free of Polio. It’s gratifying to know that Africa is now also Polo free and that there are only 2 countries left in the world with an ongoing polio problem, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
The End Polio Now project continues to help the development of local infra-structure for on-going inoculation in developing countries to maintain the level of success achieved so far and work continues to eradicate it in the last 2 countries. To this end, Cirencester Rotary club have bought more bulbs this autumn. The main planting will be in the Kemble Community Garden, which will result in a lovely purple display in 2021.
Mark concluded: “A big ‘Thank You’ to the people of Cirencester for supporting Rotary to help the world be a better place because of the End Polio Now campaign.”