Rotary Club Of Warwick

Nov11 - Rotary Treats Polio Survivors to Afternoon Tea Party

Following such a good response from an article published in the press asking local people if they remembered polio and iron lungs, Warwick Rotary Club decided to commemorate World Polio Day on the 24th October by inviting Polio survivors to afternoon tea at the Hilton Hotel. A spokesman from the Club said, “We just wanted to acknowledge these people who had suffered the effects of polio which could lead to paralysis and in some cases even death.”

Along with partners, Rotarians and friends, nine survivors came along and told their polio story.  Most had contracted polio in the epidemics of the 50’s. Some locally in Coventry others further afield.  All told of the weeks in isolation hospitals with no visitors. Many did not even know their parents on discharge.  Toys being taken away or boiled, rendering then unusable.  Calipers often had to worn along with shoulder pads known as “aeroplanes” which can be seen in the Spa Museum. Some remembered having hydrotherapy treatment at the Baths in Leamington.  All remembered the Iron Lungs, only one of the survivors had been placed in one. All those attending were totally moved by what they heard and it was very noticeable that all those who had suffered had not let polio beat them.  They had all had gone on to lead successful and happy lives.

One did say, “Thank goodness our children in this country are immunised so protected from polio. She urged parents to ensure they had their children vaccinated. I would like no child to go through what I did” She congratulated Rotary on its efforts to eradicate polio worldwide.

What also became clear was that some of the survivors were suffering from what is called Post-Polio Syndrome, which means the symptoms are coming back. A branch of the British Polio Fellowship has been set up in Northampton to provide treatments for Post-Polio Syndrome. Their President Mike Jackson attended the party and said, “We are so grateful to Rotary for the support they give us. Over 120,000 people that we know of suffer from Post-Polio Syndrome, but there could be more Events like this to give survivors the opportunity to meet, talk, share experiences and become aware of the Fellowship. You may even like to consider a Warwickshire branch.”

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