A Vision of Purple as Stone Rotary’s Crocuses to raise awareness of their Polio Campaign are in full bloom

St Michael & St Wulfad’s Churchyard is a vision of purple as crocuses start to bloom this Spring. In the last few years, local Rotary members have planted hundreds of crocus corms in support of End Polio Now, Rotary’s polio eradication programme.

This is just one group of the thousands of corms which have been planted across the Stone and Barlaston area as part of Rotary’s Purple4Polio campaign.

The warmer weather has woken the crocuses from their winter snooze, encouraging them to transform the Churchyardinto a sea of vibrant purple.

John Sayer, who leads Rotary in Stone,said: “We are very grateful to everyone who braved the very chilly weather last year to plant the crocuses. I would also like to thank the Churchfor letting us plant in this area.

“The purpose was two-fold: to share the story of Rotary’s promise to eradicate polio and to transform a small patch of the churchyard for all to enjoy. It is worth visiting, just to see the difference it has made”

Purple is a symbolic colour as it is the dye used to mark a child’s little finger when they have received the immunisation.

Rotary has helped immunise billions of children overseas against polio since 1985 and now there are just three endemic countries instead of 125 countries. As well as raising funds for the project, local Rotary members have travelled to help with National Immunisation Days in the affected countries.

Thanks to Rotary, and the support of our partners WHO, CDC, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, those children are creating lives full of possibilities instead of living lives filled with pain caused by deformed limbs and other polio symptoms.

Since Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) over 30 years ago, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.99%, from about 350,000 cases a year in 125 countries to just 29 cases in 2018 and with just three remaining polio-endemic countries: Afghanistan; Pakistan; and Nigeria.

Whilst tremendous progress has been made, the final steps on any journey are often some of the hardest, with the last year providing many obstacles which we have to overcome to make eradication happen.

However, extensive global environmental sampling around the world has made highlighting and mobilising against threats to eradication easier, more targeted and often more effective.

This reemphasises the challenges facing the world in ensuring that polio becomes just the second human disease ever to be eradicated.

The end is very much in sight and Rotary has committed to raising US$150 million between 2017-20 in support of global eradication efforts.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment 2:1 so every £1 becomes raised £3. Without full funding and political commitment, this paralysing disease could return to previously polio-free countries, putting children everywhere at risk, including the UK.

Rotary has contributed more than US$1.8 billion to ending polio since 1985.

Contact Stone Rotary by e-mailing secretary@stonerotary.org  to find out more about the polio campaign and other activities you can get involved in.