The British Polio Fellowship has welcomed the recent BBC Two documentary The Battle to Beat Polio as a timely reminder that this killer that left the world paralysed with fear is not defeated yet, and many in the UK still living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) must not be forgotten.
The documentary aired on Monday 19th May was presented by Stephanie Flanders, whose father was a key member of The British Polio Fellowship, while the consultant to the programme was none other than Professor Gareth Williams, an Ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship who continues to work to support the charity and its members today.
“The programme did what it needed to in reminding people of just what a terrible disease Polio is, and they picked the right man to help them in Professor Williams,” said Ted Hill, MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “It was nice to see they included the action line with our details at the end as we know there are many people out there with the late effects of Polio and PPS who remain in need of our support.”
With an estimated 120,000 people living with PPS in the UK, around the same number of people suffering from Parkinson’s, there are clearly many people out there who may be unaware the charity is still around to support them.
“This year is our 75th anniversary, but many people are under the impression that Polio is beaten, that those with the late effects of Polio and PPS are forgotten or that perhaps our charity disappeared with the introduction of the Polio vaccines. They would be wrong on all counts,” added Ted. “Sadly despite the vaccines, Polio is far from defeated. We continue to lend out support to the End Polio Now campaign worldwide, but closer to home we are still here for those with the late effects of Polio and PPS and in many ways, our work is more relevant than ever.”
Back in the days when Polio left the world paralysed with fear, The British Polio Fellowship had huge numbers of members and attracted a great deal of support. Yet while Polio has been eradicated in the west, a dangerous complacency has set in with respect to a disease still very much with us.
The Battle to Beat Polio was a fascinating insight into the impact of Polio and those determined to fight it. The documentary showed emotive films from the US playing on the fear of the disease and noted the impact of Birmingham City and England footballer Jeff Hall’s death from Polio on the vaccination programme in the UK – all factors heavily involving The British Polio Fellowship.
Last month the charity was invited by Birmingham City to mark Jeff’s death and in addition to presenting a TV appeal on the big screen, the charity has produced its own documentary, entitled The Journey, set for launch later in the summer.
“Having written Paralysed with Fear, The Story of Polio, it was good to be able to use this knowledge to help with this BBC documentary and it was a pleasure to play an active part,” said Professor Gareth Williams. “In my role as an Ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship, I am backing the charity’s awareness campaign during their 75th anniversary year,” he added.
“It’s not a well-known fact that Jeff’s widow Dawn made films, media appearances, even records that played a major part in the uptake of the vaccine here in the UK and indeed went worldwide,” said Ted. “Our own documentary is designed to show the impact Polio had in the UK and while the last case of Polio in the UK was in 1982, we must help people struggling with the onset of PPS.”
The British Polio Fellowship is a charity dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering those in the UK living with the late effects of Polio and PPS. For more details or information on The British Polio Fellowship, call on 0800 043 1935, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.britishpolio.org.uk