FIVE THOUSAND crocuses will brighten Saddleworth next Spring as a mark of the Rotary Club’s dedication to eradicate polio across the world.
Saddleworth Rotary Club teamed up with Greenfield and Diggle Primary Schools to plant 2,500 flowers by the two villages’ Christmas trees last month, ready to bloom next year.
Oldham Council assisted with the digging while volunteers from Rotary, Street Scene Greenfield and Diggle Community Association were also on hand to help.
The planting was part of Rotary’s international ‘Crocus Campaign’, working with business magnate Bill Gates to wipe out polio worldwide.
The crippling virus, which is incurable, causes temporary or permanent paralysis and can be life-threatening in the worst cases.
Jon Stocker, the Rotary’s Community Lead and organiser of the planting sessions, explained: “The campaign aims to raise awareness and also help with fundraising.
“We picked Greenfield and Diggle for the planting as they are either side of Saddleworth so people will see the crosuses when they blossom as a reminder of what we’re doing.
“We are very close to wiping out polio but recently we’ve seen quite a few new cases in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
“We will keep immunising even when the disease has gone and must make sure we are not complacent so the disease doesn’t come back.”
Seven million crocuses are being planted this year by Rotary Clubs, with the help of schools and community groups, as part of the initiative.
Stan Bowes, former Saddleworth Rotary Club President and now District Governor of Region, added: “In 1988 there were 300,000 cases of polio a year but this year there were only 20.
“It will be only the second disease ever to be eradicated after small pox. Then we’ll move onto the next one!”
Find out more about Rotary’s Crocus Campaign online: www.rotarycrocus.com