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Paint the islands purple

Paint the islands purple

Friday 20 September 2019

Paint the islands purple

Guernsey is once again going 'Purple4Polio', with 84,000 crocus corms being planted around the Bailiwick this autumn.

Rotary Guernsey members were joined yesterday by Sir Ian and lady Corder and volunteers from Floral Guernsey, Appleby (Guernsey) LLP and Bernie’s Gardening Services to plant 28,000 at the top of Le Val des Terres.

In the last five years,  514,000 corms have been planted across the Bailiwick in support of Rotary global awareness-raising initiative, which seeks to put a stop to the spread of polio once and for all. 

However, it has been a difficult year, with geopolitical conflicts shutting down access to some areas of the world, which has seen the incidence rate of polio increase because of a lack of immunisation against the disease. 

"There has been a little bit of a spike in the incidence rate, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Sir Ian, the island's Lt-Governor. 

"There is a broader Rotary initiative about reducing the causes of conflict around the world because it enables us to get the kind of access that is needed for polio immunisation - so there is a confluence of ideas."

Lady Corder added: "Polio is a disease that many people have forgotten about but unless we all step up and help Rotary and their partners finish the job then it could come back very rapidly everywhere."


Pictured: Across the UK 2.5 million crocus corms will be planted this autumn and Guernsey will be contributing around 3% of that total. 

Alison MacKrill, a Partner at Appleby, is committed to helping ensure no child ever again has to live with polio, after witnessing its effects first-hand.

“My brother-in-law David contracted polio when he was just 18 months old. It left him disabled and whilst he has not let it stop him from leading a very active life, it has limited what he can do," she said. "He uses his disability to help other people and knowing him has made me play my own small part in helping Rotary to stop this entirely preventable disease that has absolutely no cure."

Rotary Guernsey's Jannine Birtwistle said the difference between near eradication and total eradication is significant, as the disease could come back on a wider scale.

"Unless we finish the job within 10 years there will be at least 200,000 cases worldwide," she said. "Although we think it is done and dusted in Guernsey, polio has not completely gone away and it can come back.

"We are lucky in Guernsey that for 60 years we have been polio free."

Over the years, Rotary has worked to find a way around conflict worldwide, negototiating peace days in war-torn areas so that polio immunisation can take place. 

Closer to home, the onus is on sending out a bright people message that Guernsey is allied against the life-changing disease. 

Also helping with that is Floral Guernsey, whose support with the planting of crocus corms across the islands  mirrors the nationwide partnership between Rotary and the Royal Horticultural Society. 

This year holds special significance as Guernsey is celebrating 60 years of being polio free. Rotary Guernsey is holding a Reception at the Princess Royal Performing Arts Centre on 1 October to celebrate that, with Ms MacKrill's brother-in-law one of the speakers at that event.

Anyone is welcome to attend the free event, but are asked to register first for the event - from 18:00 to 20:00 - by emailing


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