Sunderland landmarks to be lit up purple for World Polio Day

Sunderland landmarks including Penshaw Monument, Northern Spire Bridge, Hylton Castle and Beacon of Light look set to be lit up purple this month in recognition of World Polio Day.

Sunday, 17th October 2021, 4:55 am

The initiative, which will take place on October 24, is part of a joint venture between Sunderland City Council and Rotary clubs across the North East.

The Rotary Club has helped lead the fight to eradicate polio since 1984, with Pakistan and Afghanistan now the only two countries where the disease is believed to still be present.

One Rotarian who knows more than most about the impacts of the disease is the President of Houghton Rotary Club, Geoff Pratt, who contracted polio as a baby.

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Penshaw Monument is one of a number of iconic Wearside landmarks which will be lit up purple for World Polio Day on October 24th.

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Geoff, 68, who’s also a member of the Sunderland branch of the British Polio Fellowship, said: “I had polio when I was less than one year old. It has left me with a withered leg and I walk with a limp. However it has had quite a subtle impact on my life compared to some people.

"Polio is not one of those things which goes away and everyone who has had it will have some sort of impact on their body. We approached the Council and they thought it was a great idea.

"The main aim is to raise the profile of the battle to eradicate polio although there may also be some fundraising events to go with it.”

Houghton Rotary Club president, Geoff Pratt, 68, (second from left) suffered from polio as a baby.

The significance of purple is linked to the vaccination process.

Geoff, a retired archaeologist, added: “Every time a child in the developing world has a vaccine their little finger is dyed purple to show they’ve been vaccinated.”

Fellow Rotarian Susan Mellor, 77, added: “Hopefully this will help raise the profile of our campaign. It’s the final push and hopefully we can eradicate polio in the next 10 years but we can’t stop now as it’s vital to continue to vaccinate children as they come into the world.”

Rotarian Susan Mellor, 77, hopes lighting up Wearside landmarks in purple will help to raise the profile of World Polio Day.

Other Wearside landmarks to be lit up purple include Fulwell Mill, Keel Square and the lighthouse at Cliffe Park in Seaburn.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland landmarks are regularly lit for good works and causes.

“These lightings help raise awareness for World Polio Day and we are showing our city’s support for this important campaign to eradicate polio.”

A message from the editor:

Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Claire Rowntree, said the Council was keen to show its support to eradicate polio.

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