On Saturday 17th May the only way was Essex for Colin Powell of The British Polio Fellowship, as Rotarian Colin, a Past President of the Rotary Club of Radlett addressed the Rotary District Assembly on Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) at Writtle College in Chelmsford. Following his presentation, Colin was ‘sowing the seeds of hope’ by distributing wildflower seeds to delegates, marking the charity’s 75th anniversary campaign in 2014.
Colin was invited by Rotary District 1240, which covers Essex and parts of Hertfordshire. The British Polio Fellowship and Rotary have a history of supporting each other, having the same goal in common of seeing an end to Polio and supporting those living with the late effects of Polio and PPS, which is why Colin has been invited to give members his own first-hand account of PPS.
“It was a pleasure to deliver my presentation to Rotary members and give them my own reflections on living with Polio and PPS,” said Colin Powell. “With Polio eradicated in the UK, it is easy for PPS to become Polio’s forgotten footnote. Yet while over 120,000 people in the UK remain affected, it is an ongoing issue in need of serious attention, both here and throughout the world.”
Colin has lived with Polio all his life since contracting the disease aged just six months, but it his recent struggles with PPS that are making his life more difficult and this is the message he delivered to the Rotarians “I can do anything if I want to do it badly enough and while I hope my presentation made that clear, I hope that by speaking about PPS the audience will take my story back to their individual Rotary Clubs – that the fight against Polio is far from over and a new one against PPS has only just begun.”
Polio left Colin with paralysis in his legs, feet and spine and with respiratory problems, meaning he could only start school aged 11 once discharged from hospital. Being a wheelchair user, has not stopped Colin has travelling the globe, despite this being like ‘planning a military operation’. Colin has lived with PPS since 2010, and now uses a ventilator at night and requires in-flight oxygen.
“I am delighted Colin accepted our invitation to speak to our Rotary district,” said Rotary District Governor Elect Stanley Keller. “I have known Colin personally for over 20 years and having heard him speak back in 2009 I knew he would deliver a powerful, moving, unforgettable presentation that will inspire members to continue to back the End Polio Now campaign and help those with PPS.”
The British Polio Fellowship is marking its 75th Anniversary by encouraging its members, schools and other organisations to join them ‘sowing the seeds of hope’ in memory of those living with Polio and PPS. Packets of specially selected wild flowers have been donated to the charity by Syngenta and Westland Horticulture for this purpose.
“As a specialist centre for horticulture, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to hand out our wildflower seeds at an apt location like Writtle College, “explained Colin. “The seeds of hope serve as a reminder not to let Polio return and since they can blossom even in the most difficult circumstances they are a fitting symbol of the thousands of people who have survived and thrived, despite Polio and PPS. Events like these help The British Polio Fellowship raise awareness of our ongoing role and I’m sure our friends in the Rotary movement will be keen to help us as always.”
The seeds of hope have been sown at several schools throughout the country and this event with the Essex Rotary is just the latest in a series of events where Rotary and The British Polio Fellowship have joined forces. Last year, Winchester Rotary invited The British Polio Fellowship to launch the first ever PPS day with them; while in March this year, the charity joined the Rotary Club of Derwentside in the North East for the ceremonial planting of a sapling to mark the two working in partnership. More of these joint events will be taking place throughout this year.
The British Polio Fellowship is a charity dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering those in the UK living with the effects of Polio and PPS. For more details or information on The British Polio Fellowship, call 0800 043 1935, email at email@example.com or visit the website at www.britishpolio.org.uk