Anne Wafula-Strike MBE
Struck down with Polio at the age of two and a half and paralysed below the waist as a consequence, Anne overcame prejudice in her Kenyan village so horrible, it is difficult to imagine. A world where neighbours believed she was cursed and called Anne a snake because of Polio, leaves you wondering how she ever survived – let alone grow up to be a celebrated author and Paralympian athlete.
Despite these setbacks and contending with prejudice, her disability, a military coup and the loss of her mother, Anne achieved fantastic academic results. She went to university, qualified as a teacher and moved to make a new life in Britain. On becoming a British citizen she joined Team GB and became a torch bearer for the Paralympic team, an author, role model and inspiration for a new generation of women and for her many admirers in The British Polio Fellowship, which led to Anne accepting the role of an ambassador with the charity – a role she has excelled at.
Anne has played a key role for The British Polio Fellowship in performing interviews, being guest of honour at the National Indoor Games and received her well-deserved MBE for services to disability, sport and charity work.
In recent years, Anne has been the face of several of the charity’s high profile fashion campaigns, aimed to raise the issue of accessibility and disability rights.
Professor Gareth Williams
The Professor of Medicine at the University of Bristol, Gareth produced the first comprehensive history of Polio for over 40 years, while also kindly agreeing to put his knowledge and skills at the disposal of The British Polio Fellowship.
The publication of Paralysed with Fear, The Story of Polio, co-incided with the official announcement that author Gareth Williams had agreed to become an Ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship. Paralysed with Fear is not just the history of Polio, but the story of the vaccine and a moving account of the stories of those who suffered the disease, masterly re-told and brought to life by Gareth, with significant help from the charity’s archivist, the late Barry North, who enabled Gareth to utilise the charity’s resources to research the history of Polio in detail.
Williams uses the Polio story to address broader themes. One of these is the lure of alternative medicine when faced with a disease with no apparent cause or cure and also the legacy of Polio and how it has contributed towards disability rights and support.
“I am honoured, humbled and delighted to accept the invitation from The British Polio Fellowship to become an ambassador for the charity. It’s a very flattering appointment and I am delighted the book has met with such a favourable response. The British Polio Fellowship’s archivist Barry North was a great help in my research for the book, and I have been working closely with the charity ever since.”
Colin Powell – Rotary Liaison Ambasador
A long-standing member of the British Polio Fellowship, Colin Powell JP, FCCA was appointed to the newly created post of Rotary Liaison Ambassador in November 2015, with a brief to spread understanding of Polio survivors throughout the Rotary community and develop the existing global links between the two organisations. Colin has been tasked with facilitating cooperation between Rotary and The British Polio Fellowship with a particular emphasis on Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). A man like Colin, with knowledge of both organisations was considered best placed to act as a bridge between the two organisations in areas of mutual interest.
A resident of Bushey in Watford, Colin has been a member for over 60 years and despite living with PPS since 2010 is one of the charity’s most active members. A Rotary member since 2009, Colin served as the President of the Rotary Club of Radlett from 2011-12 and has worked as a motivational speaker at numerous Rotary District Conferences, Assemblies and Clubs. Due to PPS, Colin is no longer able to speak to individual clubs, but is still addresses large external groups and also within Rotary itself – at district Conferences and District Club Assemblies.
“I have been working in this role for a while and I am aiming to develop projects by building upon the relationship between the existing Rotary Polio Survivors and Associates. A Rotarian Action Group. This is currently little known about in the UK and I am hoping to shine some light on it.”