Rotary, polio and crocus corms – what’s the connection?

Wantage Rotary plant crocus

Spring each year sees a beautiful purple carpet of crocus blooming in many communities across Great Britain and Ireland, thanks to the Purple Crocus Corm planting to raise awareness of the Rotary fight for a polio free world. For over 35 years, Rotary and its members have been committed to fighting to eradicate polio across the world.

Earlier this year eight Wantage Rotarians planted 4,000 crocus corms at the entrance to the Health Centre on Mably Way and in the grass bank outside the Lord Nelson pub.

President Paul Penfold (above) admired the glorious display of flowers that resulted outside Mably Way Health Centre.


The Purple4Polio activities suggested by Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland are to raise funds and awareness for End Polio Now, Rotary’s global campaign to eradicate polio across the world.

When a child receives their life-saving polio drops on mass polio immunisation days, their little finger is painted with a purple dye, so it is clear they have received their polio vaccine- hence the crocus connection.

Rotary’s pledge for a polio free world was made in 1985, when there were 125 polio endemic countries, and hundreds of new cases every single day. In the past few years, only two countries have reported cases of polio caused by the wild poliovirus, but no child anywhere is safe until every child has been fully vaccinated.

Thanks to Rotary, and the support of our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, there are now just two countries still classed as endemic: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

To finish the job, over 2 billion doses of oral polio vaccine still have to be administered, to more than 400 million children in over 50 countries, each and every year. We have to have zero cases of polio and zero positive environmental samples before the world can finally be certified polio free.

Wantage Rotary Club has always played its part in the End Polio Now campaign, annually donating to the cause from our Good Works account.


All that we do requires some energy, a willingness to help others in need, and a desire to do all that in the best of company. Helping others brings its own rewards, but it is a huge bonus to find that you can make great friendships in the process.

If you think that you might be interested in joining us, please email Paul on

There is no age limit, and there is no discrimination.


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