Since 1985 Rotary International has been working alongside other international organisations such as ‘The World Health Organisation’ and UNICEF among others to try to eliminate polio across the world.

In 1985 there were 125 countries in the world where polio was endemic. In 1988 it was reported that there were 350,000 cases of polio worldwide. We are now down to less than 100 cases worldwide and the continent of Africa has just been declared polio free!

To date over 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated against the polio virus to try to build up immunity to make this dreadful disease a thing of the past.

In the UK we are fortunate that there have been no cases of polio diagnosed for several decades but the older generations can perhaps remember friends and relatives who had polio and remember children who needed the support of metal callipers to help them walk.

In Oswestry the three Rotary Clubs have collectively raised thousands of pounds to help fund the international vaccination programme.  An individual dose of vaccine costs just 50p to give to a child. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have for the last few years match funded Rotary’s donations at a rate of £2 for every £1 we raise.

As a thank you to the people of Oswestry for their support with this campaign, the three Rotary Clubs have together planted over 25,000 Purple crocus in various sites around our town with the support of both Oswestry Town Council and Shropshire County Council.

They have planted Purple crocus as when a child is vaccinated, one of their little fingers in dipped into Purple dye to note who has been treated.

Representatives from the three Oswestry Rotary Groups have also asked The Orthopaedic Hospital and Whittington Castle to light up their buildings with Purple lights to mark World Polio Day.

Look out for the  crocus in the following sites next Spring!

  • Cae Glas Park
  • The ‘Welcome to Oswestry’ signs on Morda Road, Whittington Road and Salop Road
  • The entrance to the Central car park
  • Wilfred Owen Green by the Coney Green footpath
  • The roundabout outside ‘The Meadows School in Eastern Oswestry
  • The front of The Marches School

The group picture above was taken before the pandemic.