Posted by Mr Harvey Wood

Rotarians Remember Polio

After 21 years, the Polio Plus program is still going strong, committed to the complete eradication of the disease. In New Zealand poliomyelitis is rapidly becoming a memory. The last epidemic here was in 1958, and many Kiwis alive today may not even be aware of the disease. At our club meeting on Thursday, Chairman Ian Moore invited members to recall their own memories of polio.

Here is Pauline Dore's story.

Pauline said "As a 16 year old I was admitted to the Heart and Lung ward of the old Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch. Due to poliomyelitis two people were in iron lungs and it certainly was very unnerving for some one like myself to see this and more distressing as one of the ladies died while I was in hospital. I will never forget it and here I am some 50 years later helping to push for the eradication of Polio."

John Coles had this memory from the 1950s.

"The tragedies of life one never forgets and my story is about a death of a young pre-schooler when I was a child, when the effects of Polio was touching so many families in our communities.

When I was travelling to the St Andrews School, there was a young four year old boy who was always swinging on the front gate of his St Andrews home. As we passed in the school bus he would wave to us most mornings. Then all of a sudden this young boy was no longer swinging on the gate waving to us as we passed in the school bus

News soon travelled to the school that the little boy Gray had died after contracting polio. As a ten year old I was terrified with the greatest fear that I to could get this terrible disease and die. The death of this little boy left a lasting memory of polio in my mind. What a relief it was when the whole school en masse was immunised by injection too protect us against getting polio, even if the needle hurt a little.

As life went on some years later I got to know the family who were a lovely, caring family who were very community spirited. It seemed so unjust that this family had to endure such a loss of a son and brother. There are many others I know of who survived this terrible disease. Thanks to those Rotary members who started a world eradication programme which has and still is being supported by Waimate Rotary."