In spring 2014 and 2015 we hosted collaborative “Crocus Concerts” involving all local secondary schools. In each of these years our Rotary Club worked together with the schools to plant some 6,000 crocus bulbs and to send £5,000 to Rotary Foundation, where our donation was tripled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In each of the first two years of the project we raised sufficient funds to immunise 45,000 children.
Last autumn we initiated work on the third year of our five-year local contribution to this worldwide effort. Under the guidance of John Bennett & Ron Barnett and with the support of Cherwell District Council, Banbury Town Council and Sanctuary Housing, secondary students, local primary school pupils and Rotarians planted an incredible 19,000/20,000 crocus bulbs! Although circumstances prevented a third series of collaborative crocus concerts, individual secondary and primary school fundraising efforts together with Rotary Club commitments have so far raised almost £2,500. A concert at Broughton Church by the Oxford Male Voice Choir on Saturday 2nd July gave the Purple4Polio Campaign and this fourth year’s crocus projects a brilliant start – raising over £1,600. Many thanks to Alan, Ron and the Foundation Committee.
This coming year Rotary International in Britain and Ireland (RIBI) has decided to celebrate the centenary of Rotary Foundation by planting five million crocus corms throughout the United Kingdom to raise awareness of the fact that we are on the verge of a tremendous achievement. RIBI has established a partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society on this national project – PURPLE4POLIO. Each pack of 5,000 crocus corms purchased by local Clubs through the scheme costs £85. In June we ordered one pack so that each secondary school will again receive 500 corms to plant on your grounds – adding to the 1,000 they each received during the first two years of our local project. In July – after consultation with Cherwell District and Banbury Town Councils about further planting in public spaces this autumn and Whitley Stimpson’s generous sponsorship of a further pack, we ordered a further seven packs. In partnership with secondary schools, community groups and the councils involved John Bennett will be leading as many volunteer Rotarians as possible in the planting of 40,000 bulbs this autumn.
Also, Ron is repeating last year’s Primary Schools Project. Club has requested a District Grant of £300, enabling us to match-fund and order ten packs for Primary Schools. In addition to planting 500 corms each, secondary schools will again be participating in collaborative Crocus concerts in early spring 2017. Our PURPLE4POLIO Working Group will oversee our Club response to the RIBI/District Projects which coincide with the fourth year of our own local Crocus Projects.
Current state of Polio: Just two countries remain where polio is endemic. Internet links for further details: www.polioeradication.org and www.endpolio.org. Here are a couple of headline facts:
- In 2015, a total of 74 cases of polio were reported in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the only two remaining polio endemic countries, down from 334 cases worldwide in 2014.
- “We’ve come a long way since the establishment of the GPEI in 1988, from 125 polio-endemic countries to just two,” said Chris Maher, manager of WHO’s regional polio eradication unit in Amman, Jordan. “We are at the final frontier of eradication. A lot of work is still needed, but if we can stop polio transmission in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the close of 2016, the whole world will finally be free of wild poliovirus.”
- Latest statistics on Wild Polio Virus: This year to date Afghanistan 5, Pakistan 11 (compared with totals in 2015 of 20 & 54 respectively).