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.”