The Warwick Rotary Club recently held an afternoon tea party for those affected by Polio.
Around a month ago The Courier published an article about the Warwick Rotary Club asking people in the area if they remembered polio and iron lungs. The Warwick Rotary Club decided to commemorate World Polio Day on October 24 by inviting Polio survivors to afternoon tea at the Hilton Hotel.
A spokesman from the Club said: “We just wanted to acknowledge these people who had suffered the effects of polio which could lead to paralysis and in some cases even death we could only do this with the support of the local paper.”
Along with partners, Rotarians and friends, nine survivors came along and told their polio story. Most had contracted polio in the epidemics of the 50’s. Some were local from the Coventry areas and others were from further afield.
All of the survivors told of the weeks in isolation hospitals with no visitors. Many did not even know their parents on discharge. They also told of toys being taken away or boiled, rendering then unusable.
Calipers often had to worn along with shoulder pads known as “aeroplanes” these can be seen in the Spa Museum.
Some also remembered having hydrotherapy treatment at the Baths in Leamington.
All remembered the Iron Lungs, only one of the survivors had been placed in one. All those attending were totally moved by what they heard and it was very noticeable all those who had suffered had not let polio beat them.
At the event, one of the survivors said: “Thank goodness our children in this country are immunised so protected from polio". They also urged parents to ensure they had their children vaccinated and added: "I would like no child to go through what I did.”
They also congratulated Rotary on its efforts to eradicate polio worldwide.
What also became clear was that some of the survivors were suffering from what is called Post-Polio Syndrome, which means the symptoms are coming back.
A branch of the British Polio Fellowship has been set up in Northampton to provide treatments for Post-Polio Syndrome.
Their President Mike Jackson attended the party and said: “We are so grateful to Rotary for the support they give us. More than 120,000 people that we know off suffer from Post-Polio Syndrome but there could be more events like this have given survivors the opportunity to meet, talk, share experiences and become aware of the Fellowship. You may even like to consider a Warwickshire branch.”
A spokesperson from the Warwick Rotary Club said: "Warwick Rotary would like to issue a special thank you to The Courier for their support in helping to make this event possible."