MORE than 5,000 bulbs will be planted in Oxford to help the fight to eradicate polio around the world.

The Rotary Club of Oxford Spires planted the first batch of ruby giant crocuses at Helen and Douglas House hospice in East Oxford on Saturday.

And the purple flower they produce will symbolise the dye used to mark a child’s little finger once they have been immunised against polio.

Members then visited Cholsey Primary School on Sunday and will complete their planting at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre on October 23. It is part of the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Thanks for Life campaign, which will see thousands of people helping out across the country.

Jim Moulson, RIBI President, urged people to donate money to the campaign.

He said: “We are so close to stamping out polio and we hope this fun event will encourage more people to get involved with the initiative and with Rotary.

“It is vital that we eradicate polio from the four remaining endemic countries or there is always the likelihood that the disease will return to countries that have been cleared. We need help to destroy polio forever.”

Polio is a crippling, and sometimes fatal, disease mainly affecting children in parts of Africa and Asia.

However, it is highly virulent and doctors fear it could be reintroduced to the UK unless action is taken across the globe.

Mr Moulson added: “Rotary has been fighting to end polio for more than 25 years, and the world is now tantalisingly close to achieving that goal thanks to the joint hard work of organisations and governments.

“Anyone who has contributed funds will be able to say: ‘I helped to eradicate a disease completely for only the second time in history, after smallpox. Not only did I prevent children from dying or being maimed, I helped change the world’.”

Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins and Gardener’s World presenter Tony Buckland are among those who have pledged their support.

Every £1 raised will pay for five doses of the anti-polio vaccine.

  • Anyone who wants to help should call Rotary Club of Oxford Spires on 07910 318878 or visit