Cumbrians who have taken part in the global effort to end polio will be marking World Polio Day on Sunday October 24.

The international day will reflect on the progress being made to eradicate the disease and the enormous effort it has taken to get this far – largely thanks to fundraising and awareness raising by Rotary International.

Local clubs in Cumbria have supported the huge polio vaccination effort around the world and have been supporting the covid vaccination roll-out in the county too.

Kevin Walsh a member of the Rotary Club of Brampton & Longtown, said: “Rotary has supported this huge global effort over the years and the hard work of our members here in Cumbria has helped to improve the life chances of people around the world.

“Africa was declared free of polio in August 2020, that was a huge achievement and due to the provision and delivery of vaccines right across the continent.

“It is often diffcult to see the impact you as an individual can have on the lives of people in another part of the world. But there is no doubt that was a significant milestone.

“More recently we were pleased to hear that the Taliban leadership have agreed to support the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination across Aghanistan.”

Kevin and his Rotary colleagues have raised funds to support this ambition for many years and even supported the projects on the ground visiting Bengaluru (Bangalore) in India in 2010 to support the rollout there.

“The work by the teams delivering this in India is remarkable and people were so keen for their children to get the vaccine to protect them against this terrible disease,” he added.

Rotary clubs also helped the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out by supporting marshaling at vaccine hubs and helping the process work effectively.

Kevin said: “I never expect to be supporting a national vaccine effort in our own country but Rotary was delighted to support the clinical teams delivering the vaccine by keeping people safe when they arrived and left from the centres, and we’re continuing to help with the booster programme and the annual flu programme too.”

You can read more about the global effort to end polio here: https://www.endpolio.org/

You can see up to date information about the covid vaccine programme in north Cumbria here:https://northcumbriaccg.nhs.uk/covidvaccine

Ed Tallis, director of primary care for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We can’t thank Rotary enough – and everyone who has volunteered to support our covid vaccine rollout – for the massive part they are playing in protecting our community.

“We are lucky that the polio vaccine has been a familiar part of our childhood in the UK for many, many years and it is a real reminder that vaccines have a huge role to play in eradicating disease across the globe. We are making steady progress and this important work by Rotary is making a real difference to children in other countries whose future will be better without the risk of polio. Vaccines not only save lives, they also make them better.”

Members of Rotary will be planting crocus bulbs to celebrate their work to end polio across Cumbria this weekend and have made three short films about this work. 

Photo: Kevin Walsh in India in 2010

Photo: Kevin supporting the Covid vaccination rollout in Carlisle.