Despite the past year being a challenging one for us all thanks to a global pandemic, it has highlighted how quickly a virus can travel across the globe, the importance of vaccinations and the importance of the polio eradication programme.
In 2020, after decades of work across 47 countries on the continent, the World Health Organization certified the Africa region wild polio free. This was a huge milestone in the eradication of polio, leaving just two countries left reporting cases of wild-polio virus.
We can all play our part and the following individuals have been recognised for their commitment to a polio free world through their campaigning and fundraising, and are winners of, the People of Action Polio Award’ awarded by Rotary Great Britain and Ireland.
Barbara Middleton has been passionate about the End Polio Now campaign for many years. In 2013, she saw first-hand the National Immunisations Days taking place, across India joining with a group of Rotary members in Delhi to help inoculate local children against polio.
In 2013, she saw first-hand the National Immunisations Days taking place.”
The experience inspired Barbara, and since then she has taken part in in National Immunisation Days 3 more times in Amritsar, Kolkata and Bhiwadi.
This experience was the driving force which helped Barbara to campaign and raise more awareness of End Polio Now. She regularly is invited to speak at various Rotary club meetings sharing her experiences with other members to help others understand the importance of National Immunisation Days.
The experience inspired Barbara, and since then she has taken part in in National Immunisation Days 3 more times in Amritsar, Kolkata and Bhiwadi.”
Barbara continues to fundraise and raise awareness for End Polio Now. In 2019 she helped to organize an End Polio Now Chinese Dinner and Karaoke where she reluctantly sang a fine rendition of ‘It’s raining men’ all in the name of a good cause. Her efforts helped to raise over £700 for End Polio Now as she continues to champion the cause.
For many years, Bernice Yates has been involved in the fight to eliminate polio from the country that was seen as the biggest hurdle to overcome, India. Bernice has been organising trips to India with groups of Rotary members since 2006 to help with National Immunisation Days.
As you can imagine, organising a coach full of Rotary members was never going to be an easy task, however this didn’t stop Bernice working hard to ensure that the volunteers had a good experience, but more importantly they vaccinated as many children as possible. Her extrovert manner along with her knowledge of Indian culture, showed many Rotary members how to throw themselves into the experience to make a difference to as many children’s lives as possible.
Her extrovert manner along with her knowledge of Indian culture, showed many Rotary members how to throw themselves into the experience.”
When India was declared polio free, Bernice said the celebration of such a massive achievement against all the odds was one of the best moments of her life. Bernice realised all the hard work she put in, along with many other Rotary members around the world paid off, and also how important it is to continue working to wipe polio off the face of the earth.
Since 2010 Ian McMeekan has taken it upon himself to organise ‘Purple Pinkie Days’ at local primary schools, in aid of raising money and awareness of the End Polio Now campaign.
Each year, the children come to school dressed in purple to symbolise the purple mark children receive on their fingers once they have been vaccinated. Ian speaks at the assemblies to teach the children about End Polio Now to help raise awareness.
Every year, ‘Purple Pinkie Days’ at the primary schools are a huge success and the children always have great fun whilst showing curiosity and engagement when learning about polio, and the campaign to eradicate it. Some children even ask Ian regularly how the End Polio Now campaign is going after learning about the importance of it, and how close we are to eradicating polio for good.
Ian speaks at the assemblies to teach the children about End Polio Now to help raise awareness.”
The children make a small donation to the cause as they learn about the End Polio Now campaign. In 2020 the schools who took part raised over £1,500 thanks to the generosity of everyone involved and Ian for raising awareness of the cause.
John Box knows first-hand the effects polio can have on a person’s life. After living with polio for over seventy years, the End Polio Now campaign isn’t simply a good cause for John, its personal.
In 2014 John began to give talks to Rotary clubs about his experience living with polio, and since then he has been invited to talk at numerous club meetings and events in the UK and beyond.
The story not only seeks to tell his personal story of seventy years plus living with polio, but to give the listener an insight into what Rotary International has done, and continues to do in the ongoing campaign to achieve the eradication of polio.
The End Polio Now campaign brought back many memories of what John endured in his life, making him look back at those times and consider how his talks could tell his story, but also have a purposeful goal.
The End Polio Now campaign brought back many memories of what John endured in his life.”
John says his talks focus on two things: Firstly, an opportunity to promote the Rotary End Polio Now campaign. And secondly to tell his story which he admits gives him the chance to vent his inner feelings, and frustrations at times, as a Polio sufferer. He reminds people that there is absolutely no cure for polio but a simple and effective vaccine can prevent it.
Despite his disability, John never let this stop him, and by sharing his story with others, he is able to raise more awareness so less people have to suffer the life time effects from the disease, and hopefully soon, eradicate it for good everywhere.