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Help more survivors like Moya

PUBLISHED: 15:07 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 06 July 2010

THIS week JOHN HUNT, president of the Rotary Club of Lowestoft, continues the story of local polio survivors to highlight what a scourge the disease is and the need to eradicate it from the world.

THIS week JOHN HUNT, president of the Rotary Club of Lowestoft, continues the story of local polio survivors to highlight what a scourge the disease is and the need to eradicate it from the world. Local rotary clubs are raising funds for this with a street collection on Saturday, February 27.

MOYA Armes is an active member of Lowestoft Shopmobility but was only three years old when polio struck.

It was the hot summer of 1947 that followed the exceptionally cold winter. Moya had been playing on the beach at Children's Corner, and she remembers a plague of flies that year.

The following week she felt unwell; the doctor suspected sunstroke but as she had problems moving her leg a second opinion was sought and polio was diagnosed.

She was put in isolation at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital; at that time there was uncertainty about what to do and many sufferers were put in splints. Later, patients were treated with movement and physiotherapy.

Moya was moved to White Lodge at the Newmarket Hospital, the regional polio centre, for more than a year. This, at the age of three, separated from her loved ones, was really traumatic.

Few people owned cars to enable visits. There were other Lowestoft patients at Newmarket, and Moya's grandfather organised a group of family members to go every Sunday by a coach put on by Shreeve's.

They even went on Christmas Day, and Shreeve's stood all the passengers a drink at a public house.

With physiotherapy, Moya began to recover and came home, but had to wear callipers for a year.

She began school but this was disrupted by the need for treatment. At the age of nine she underwent surgery three times to improve her mobility, with a tendon transplant and straightening of her foot using pins.

Her good leg was stapled to slow the growth to make development more equal. Her legs were in plaster for nine months, then a further six months. Removing the plaster was agonising because the pins became stuck in it.With physiotherapy Moya was able to take up a more normal life. After school she became a copy typist and took a job with R J Pryce doing invoice typing and secretarial work.

She married and had a lovely daughter (she now also has two beautiful grandchildren). All was going well until 1990, when she was on holiday in Paris.

She found suddenly that she could not walk from the tour bus. She had suffered what is now called “Post Polio Syndrome” (PPS), which affects many polio sufferers but in different ways, years after the original attack.

Back home Moya had more physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, but had to give up her job. She needed more operations, also treating osteoarthritis and with a knee replacement as her originally good knee had worn out. Slowly, again, she recovered.

Now Moya is active for Lowestoft Shopmobility. She became involved after helping to raise funds with a slide show, and she was asked to go on the committee, and she has served now for seven years. Like Jill Brough of DIAL, who was featured last week, Moya has been determined to succeed despite everything.

Now Polio is no longer endemic in Britain as a result of the vaccination programme.

Help rotary spread this to the remaining parts of the world where it is still rife, by filling the buckets on February 27.

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