Crocuses planted to raise awareness of polio were celebrated at Felpham Community College yesterday.
An afternoon tea was held to celebrate the flowers and the campaign, run in conjunction with Bognor Regis Rotary Club.
Sadly, the early spring weather meant the flowers themselves had come and gone before the event but their significance was none the worse for it.
Guests including Rotarians, students from The Regis and Downview Primary schools and parents heard of the importance of the Purple4Polio campaign to eradicate polio, a crippling and potentially fatal disease, by making sure the vaccination can be made available to people all over the world.
More than 2.5 billion children have received vaccinations thanks to the help of Rotary and there are currently only three polio-endemic countries in the world.
Year-ten students Izzy Saunders and Charlie Cogger gave a presentation explaining the involvement of the school, an official Rights Respecting School.
Charlie said: “Failing to eradicate polio from these remaining countries could result in as many as 200,000 new cases a year, according to the World Health Organisation.
“At the end of the day as long as there is one country in the world where polio is endemic, the whole world is at risk. There is no cure for polio, which is why it is so important for every child to be vaccinated.”
Izzy added: “As a school, we hope to continue campaigning alongside Rotary. We hope that during our lifetime, the world will be free of this dreadful disease.”
With the help of Bognor Rotarians Mary and Bog Pavard, 1,400 purple crocus bulbs, one for each student, were planted at the school in November. The campaign was as part of a Rotary link-up with the Royal Horticultural Society to raise awareness across the United Kingdom.
Michelle Kelly, assistant head teacher, said: “Felpham students feel strongly about campaigning for change and this was an ideal opportunity to get involved and to raise awareness of an awful disease that needlessly still affects so many people.”
Paul Hickson from Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club gave a talk about his visit to India as part of the immunisation scheme.
He said the last case of polio in India was in 2011 and the country was declared polio free in 2014.
The Rotarians work with health teams in India to ensure every child receives the two drops required to vaccinate them.
“They are so tenacious and persistent,” he said. “They are all on foot. It is that persistency that has enabled India to eradicate polio.”
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