Reminding Marlborough that some of the world’s children still get polio - with lots of purple crocuses
There's going to be a purple look to Marlborough next spring - the purple of crocuses. Members of the Marlborough and District Rotary Club are planting 5,000 corms of purple crocuses in places around the town - a colourful reminder that polio still affects many children.
Throughout Britain Rotary branches are planting six million purple crocus corms - that will make quite a splash of colour.
It is part of Rotary's End Polio Now campaign. There are only two countries left in the world where polio is still endemic - Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On Wednesday (December 7) Marlborough Rotarians and Marlborough in Bloom were planting crocuses on the Tesco roundabout on the Salisbury Road - one thousand corms meant a lot of holes being dug and the turves put back on top of them. They will be a fine sight as you drive down the hill towards the roundabout.
Why the purple crocuses? At hospitals and outreach clinics in Pakistan and Afghanistan young children have a little finger dipped in purple dye to show they have received their two drops of oral polio vaccine. So the purple crocuses are very apt.
So far the Rotary campaign has raised over a million pounds to fund further vaccination programmes. The purple crocuses raise awareness of the campaign and of Rotary's part in this worldwide campaign - and when Spring comes and the crocuses are in flower, you can buy a crocus lapel pin - which raises the money.
Apart from the Tesco roundabout Marlborough's crocuses will be planted in Priory Gardens, Waterfront Garden and Manton Hollow.
Marlborough Rotary's Gerry Hooper, who is organising the town's contribution to this worldwide campaign, says it is a great way to raise awareness of a terrible disease that Britain left behind several decades ago. He remembers the days when some polio sufferers were treated in iron lungs and many had to wear callipers for life.
Rotary has been working to help eradicate polio since 1985 - this could be the final push. And a spread of purple crocuses will remind us all that it is a cause worth supporting with our donations when we buy a purple crocus pin - donations large and small.
Standing on the Tesco roundabout as the traffic hurtles past, one can get away with saying that when it comes to ending the scourge of polio every little really does help.