Ambassadors

Ade Adepitan

Paralympian and broadcaster Ade, has pledged to support Rotary “all the way” as we continue our efforts to rid the world of this life threatening and crippling disease.Ade has been on our screens throughout 2016 after presenting Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympic Games in Rio and joining Pudsey Bear on by hosting BBC Children in Need.

Ade contracted polio in his birth country of Nigeria, a country which has had a recent setback and is on the polio endemic country list again alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Speaking recently to Rotary magazine Ade commented: “Rotary always does a lot of good work on polio you are one of the leading charities on polio if not the leading charity.” Referring to the recent cases in Nigeria, Ade added “All the agencies must have a blueprint on how to tackle the Nigeria issue. The last mile is always the toughest.”
Paralympian, broadcaster and polio survivor Ade Adepitan is helping Rotary's polio eradication by becoming a Purple4Polio Ambassador.

Donovan

Donovan was born Donovan Philips Leitch in Scotland as part of the post-war baby-boom in 1946.In 2012, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He is a legendary folk-rock-pop troubadour that remains an important part of popular culture since his career began in 1965. He truly is one of the preeminent members of British Rock Royalty.

Donovan contracted polio as a child growing up in Glasgow and said it played a huge part in his successful musical career: “I spent a lot of time in bed as a child after having polio while my dad read poetry to me. It made me interested in words, writing and being creative. If I hadn’t had that experience maybe I wouldn’t have gone on to write and sing my own songs for the past half a century.”
Purple4Polio Ambassdor Donovan
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Donovan also is inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame. Donovan helped transform the 1960s musical landscape from folk to psychedelic to pop and back again with a repertoire of remarkable and extraordinary masterpieces that remain as vibrant a collection of material today that continues to serve as a soundtrack to our lives.Through his knowledge of the divine art of meditation, he has been able to take his music to a level that easily unites the inner world and the outer world leaving a musical imprint on our DNA.

Early songs like Catch The Wind, Colours and his version of Buffy Sainte Marie’s protest anthem Universal Soldier, helped launch his career. But, from 1966 through 1969, Donovan scored a string of eleven Top 40 hits in a row, including Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman, Epistle To Dippy, There Is A Mountain, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Jennifer Juniper, Lalena, Atlantis, and Riki Tiki Tavi.He was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with the Beatles, contributing lyrics to the song Yellow Submarine.Donovan was also invited by The Beatles to join them at Abbey Road Studios for the final orchestral overdub session for the Lennon-McCartney collaboration A Day in the Life, the grand finale of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In 1968, Donovan in body, mind and spirit joined alongside The Beatles on their famous trip to India. At that time, Donovan not only influenced the guitar styles of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but also studied Transcendental Meditation alongside the band. Because of this, Donovan, along with the Beatles, is known for being chiefly responsible in bringing Transcendental Meditation and Eastern Mysticism into Western Culture.

To this day, Donovan and his wife Linda work closely with American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, David Lynch, heading up the musical wing of his organization, the David Lynch Foundation, to bring meditation to millions of students worldwide.

Throughout his brilliant career, Donovan has shared the stage with many musical legends, including folk greats Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, John Sebastian and Bob Dylan, as well as rock guitarists Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. In 2003, Donovan was awarded a doctorate of letters by St. Albans University in recognition of his contribution to poetry and songwriting. Recently, Donovan’s success has continued with his album Beat Café and a new CD box set “Try for the Sun: The Journey of Donovan” (Sony). His autobiography The Hurdy Gurdy Man (Arrow Books) was published in 2005 by St. Martins Press New York and Century UK.

 Konnie Huq

In 2009 Konnie, a keen supporter of Rotary went to India, along some of our own Rotarians, to make a public awareness and schools’ educational film about the Rotary End Polio Now campaign. 67 million children under the age of five were vaccinated against polio in just two days.

Konnie Huq is best known for presenting Blue Peter for ten years until 2007.Since then she has interviewed leading stars of music and film as well as former prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Music is her passion and she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to present Top of the Pops for BBC1 and The Tube for Channel 4 Radio.

Her versatile presenting style enables her to lend her experience to a wide range of topics, from covering New York and London fashion weeks for ITV to presenting major sporting and fashion programmes.
Konnie Huq joins Rotary to mark World Polio Day
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Other experience includes presenting Zoo Days for Channel 5, the Red Bull Air Race for Channel 4, Guinness World Record’s Smashed on Sky One and Adrenalin Junkie with Jack Osborne for ITV2.

In 2010 Konnie demonstrated her active side in ITV’s 71 Degrees North, which saw her and nine others attempt to make it to North Pole.Konnie also got the job of the roving behind the scenes reporter on ITV’s seventh Xtra Factor series and delivered the highest ratings to date.

Konnie then jumped on the mic again for ITV2′s series of Under Pressure, which enabled her to achieve her secret desire of becoming a rapper.

Beyond the UK, Konnie has illustrated her global qualities in Discovery Asia’s Lonely Planet Six Degrees: China in which she delivered a scoop on some of China’s most intriguing facts, traditions and customs.


Julia Roberts

Author, television presenter and polio survivor Julia contracted polio as a toddler and spent five months quarantined in hospital before she was discharged on Christmas Eve 1957. Despite having her left leg in a calliper, Julia’s parents were keen to ensure she would be able to walk unaided so took her to weekly physiotherapy and swimming sessions and, at the age of three, she began ballet classes.

At school her creative flair came to the fore and although she had severely weakened muscles from the waist down on her left side, caused by contracting the virus, she did not let this prevent her from taking part in a number of drama and dance festivals, before travelling the country and the world as a professional dancer.

Julia has gone on to be a successful author, publishing her memoirs One Hundred Lengths of the Pool in 2011 as well as the Liberty Sands trilogy of novels.Julia has also been a regular on Britain’s television screens and was part of the launch of QVC in 1993 where she still works today.
Julia Roberts - Purple4Polio Ambassador
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Julia is heavily involved with polio-related charity work and joined fellow Ambassador Konnie Huq and member of the Rotary International Polio Plus Committee Judith Diment at the prestigious Science Museum Lates ‘Contagion’ event at the British Science Museum in October.

She discussed her personal experiences of living with polio as well as the wider challenges facing the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in the fight to eradicate the disease.On her Ambassadorial role Julia commented: “Whilst the world is very close to the eradication of polio, we are not yet there and we have to work together to raise awareness and funds to finish the job. We can’t allow any complacency regarding vaccinating against polio both in developing countries and right here in the UK. Polio is not yet consigned to history and it would be a tragedy if all the fantastic progress made over the past few years was allowed to slip away from us.”

“There is no cure for polio but it is preventable. This is why the vaccination programme is so important. I don’t want another person to have to have to live with the devastating consequences of contracting this virus”Julia is also a proud ambassador of The British Polio Fellowship and in addition to championing the necessity for extensive vaccination programmes, Julia is passionate about raising awareness of  Post Polio Syndrome, a condition which will  in later life affect  up to eighty-five per cent of polio survivors with a variety of debilitating symptoms.

 Anne Wafula Strike

Born in Kenya, Anne contracted polio when she was just two and a half years old, but like so many inspiring survivors of the virus, she did not let it hold her back.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Education degree in her native Kenya she moved to Britain in 2000 before taking up wheelchair racing in 2002.

A testament to her talent and determination, just two years later Anne became the first wheelchair racer from Sub-Sahara Africa to compete at the Paralympics when she represented Kenya in the T53 400m, 800m and 1500m races at the Athens Games.
Anne Wafula Strike - Purple4Polio Ambassador
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In 2006 Anne became a British citizen and went on to represent Team GB with whom she was a bronze medallist in the famous Paralympic World Cup, represented GB in 5 Paralympic World Cups and competed in the World Championships.

She is currently a Board Member of UK Athletics. In addition to inspiring others with her achievements on the track, Anne has worked extensively with disability advocacy and awareness, and founded the Olympia-Wafula Foundation.

The Foundation works with disadvantaged people in the UK and internationally to enrich their lives through social inclusion by developing their skills, increasing their employability and providing recreational activities to improve their social welfare.The Olympia-Wafula Foundation also provides mobility aid and grants education scholarships to students with disability from underprivileged background.

Anne is extremely passionate about polio eradication and commented, “I am keen that recent outbreaks of cases in Nigeria spur on the global community to make even more effort to rid the world of the disease once and for all. We need to eradicate polio sooner rather than later and it is not a done deal.”

In 2007 Anne was awarded an MBE for her charity work and in 2016 was the winner of the Play for Change award at the TV Sports Awards.


 Alan Titchmarsh

We were delighted to announce Alan Titchmarsh as an ambassador as part of our World Polio Day celebrations.

As one of the nation’s best loved gardeners, after starring on programmes such as Gardener’s World and Ground Force, Alan was particularly interested in one element of the campaign: “I am delighted to be able to support the Purple4Polio campaign developed by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.”

“The campaign, which members of Rotary clubs across the UK will plant in excess of seven million crocus corms during October and November that will bloom in late February and early March, is very innovative and clearly shows that members of the Rotary organisation bring colour into people’s lives through all its activities.”
Rotary welcomes latest Purple4Polio ambassadors

Chris Tarrant

Tarrant, best known as the host of game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was also excited to get on board with Rotary’s latest initiative: “I am delighted to support Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland in their 100th year of fundraising through the Rotary Foundation.”

“This campaign, which begins in October with a vast colour expanse in late February/early March, I am hopeful will focus people’s attention on polio, which is a debilitating disease and which Rotary across the world has been fighting to eradicate for the past 30 years. With so few new cases, it clearly is very important that the fight goes on.”

“I wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing the ‘blooming crocuses’ in both my local area and across the country.”
Chris Tarrant - Purple4Polio Ambassador
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