The AGM of The British Polio Fellowship took place in Glasgow recently, with a memorable presentation by Professor Gareth Williams still ringing in delegates’ ears. The respected author of Paralysed with Fear – The Story of Polio, has joined forces with QVC Star Julia Roberts to support the charity’s Winter Warmth Appeal 2014, ensuring those with Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) in Scotland and England stay warm this winter.
The British Polio Fellowship AGM ran alongside an event to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Scottish Region including the holding of an Information Day to promote the work of the British Polio Fellowship Scottish Region.
Gareth, a Professor of medicine at the University of Bristol, held the AGM spellbound with a story of Polio from Pharaonic times through to present day, which made clear to delegates why those living with the aftermath of Polio should be strongly supported.
Gareth delivered his lecture (without notes) and regaled delegates with fascinating Polio facts, such as the ways in which people attempted to treat Polio. Leeches, red hot pokers, electric shocks and (even as late as 1967) cobra venom were tried; through to the more intelligent work of doctors striving to deliver a workable vaccine. At its height, fear of Polio in America was second only to people’s fear of the atom bomb. Now, as the world teeters on the brink of the eradication of Polio, that fear has vanished into history. However, until the infection is wiped out for all time, the threat of a Polio pandemic will remain with us – and even with billions of dollars and the support of the Gates Foundation and Rotary International, it is depressing that we still can’t quite get there.
“Having spent years researching and writing a history of Polio, it was a pleasure to meet and address so many members in person at the AGM in Glasgow,” said Professor Williams. “The tales of people living with Polio and PPS, and of the many obstacles that they still face, have really moved me. It was a great honour to be asked to be an Ambassador and I am especially proud to be supporting this year’s Winter Warmth campaign.”
Gareth was invited to be an Ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship following his work with the charity when writing his book. He supported the charity’s Team Splash event this year for British Polio Month with Julia Roberts and is working with Julia once again to support the Winter Warmth campaign.
As a side effect of Polio and PPS, many members of The British Polio Fellowship feel the cold more than most and need the heating on longer and turned up higher than the average household. This, coupled with the rising cost of heating bills causes many members a great deal of worry and distress and the Winter Warmth Appeal aims to raise £20,000 yet is about more than just money. In addition to financial support, with heating grants for qualifying members, practical advice is offered to members on how to keep utility bills down, cold intolerance factsheets and much more.
“At the moment, I am planning a musical event in support of the charity,” added Gareth. “This will probably be held in November or December but I will be making a lot of noise about it as soon as we have a venue finalised!”
“We are extremely grateful to Gareth for providing delegates at our Scottish AGM with a masterclass on the history of Polio,” said The British Polio Fellowship CEO, Ted Hill MBE. “While our history is important to us, Gareth’s support for the Winter Warmth Appeal shows we all have an eye very firmly fixed on the future too.”
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. It provides information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable its members to live full independent and integrated lives and works to develop worldwide alliances with other Polio and Post Polio groups for the mutual benefit of its members.
For more details on Fellowship, please contact The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the new website at www.britishpolio.org.uk