Purple 4 Polio: selling crocus bulbs for a great cause

31 October 2016

Members of our Interact Club, a youth division of Penryn Rotary Club, are doing their bit to help eradicate a once widespread and potentially deadly disease from the face of the planet.  They have been selling and planting purple crocus bulbs to raise funds and awareness as part of Rotary’s Purple4Polio campaign. Penryn Rotarian, and Youth  chair Jim Henderson, who works very closely with Penryn College, said: “Every time doctors vaccinate a child against polio, they dye their finger purple, to show that they have been vaccinated, and that’s why it’s Purple4Polio.”

Our campaign has started


The Interact Club campaign was officially launched on October 24, World Polio Day, but they have already started selling crocus bulbs to parents, raising around £100 in the process. Pots for planting the bulbs have been donated by Penryn B & Q after a visit by the Interact Club explaining the campaign. For every ten bulbs the group sells, another ten will be planted, either in the college garden or in the Penryn Memorial Gardens. For every pound raised by the campaign, another two will be donated to the cause by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, trebling the amount of money that goes to eradicating polio. This has now been dubbed by the Interact members as ‘Bill’s Bonus’.

Penryn College student Daisy, who is the President of the Interact Club organising the campaign, said: “So far over the last two weeks we have raised just over £100, and we are going on until next February. “That money will be trebled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so we have actually made £300 so far.”

Another member of the club added: “They are trying to completely eradicate polio across the world.”

While there have been only 30 new cases of polio this year, down from 72 last year, but, Daisy added, “with the refugee crisis moving across borders it could actually go back up again.”

As well as selling crocus bulbs, the pupils have a purple polio bear they are using to raise funds, such as by asking for a small donation in return for a photo with the bear, and they will also be holding a day of wearing purple for polio at the school plus they plan to hold a cake sale where all the cakes will have a purple theme.


The world-wide campaign against polio

Polio is an infectious virus which can cause paralysis, and even death, and killed thousands of people a year in the early 20th century.

Since the 1950s a process of global immunisation has seen it eradicated in Europe and the Americas, and in 2015 only two countries were still reporting wild cases of polio.

Rotary International has been a key organisation in the fight against polio, and the World Health Organisation has stated its aim to have the disease eradicated by 2018, making it the second human disease to have been eradicated after smallpox.