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Help us to end scourge of polio

PUBLISHED: 12:02 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:18 06 July 2010

ON Saturday, February 27, all three Rotary clubs in Lowestoft are taking to the streets to collect for Polio Plus.

This is a worldwide Rotary programme aiming to eradicate the dreadful disease poliomyelitis from remaining countries of the world where it is still endemic.

ON Saturday, February 27, all three Rotary clubs in Lowestoft are taking to the streets to collect for Polio Plus.

This is a worldwide Rotary programme aiming to eradicate the dreadful disease poliomyelitis from remaining countries of the world where it is still endemic.

Polio used to be a real scourge in Britain. People aged 60 and over can remember the stories of those paralysed and placed in “iron lungs” as a result of polio.

In Lowestoft, one of those who have a polio survival story to tell is Jill Brough, well known for her work for the Disablement Information and Advice Line (DIAL).

Jill contracted polio in 1947, just before her 14th birthday. She came home from school telling her mother she felt weak, as if she had flu. She went to bed and the following morning could not move. She was taken unconscious to hospital where she was in a coma for three weeks.

There was an iron lung by her bed in case her breathing rate fell below five per minute. On occasions she regained consciousness but the pain, was unbearable. She could only move her left hand.

Gradually, some movement returned. She learnt to write left-handed, and slowly, with much physiotherapy, learned to walk again with sticks. She was off school for 18 months, but had a supportive headmistress who made classroom changes and let her combine school with continuing treatment.

Jill completed her school certificate, and moved to the local college of further education for a senior secretarial course. She began work experience part-time at her local hospital, later becoming a medical secretary. Eventually, she became secretary to the superintendent of a psychiatric hospital, organising conferences and at the same time studying at evening classes for teaching certificates.

The teaching side attracted her and she moved to Lowestoft, taking a lectureship at Lowestoft College in 1959, where she taught secretarial subjects for 25 years.

After her retirement, she took up cudgels for DIAL in 1986 which was already operating in Great Yarmouth, and she was instrumental in starting up the Lowestoft branch. Since then she has been at various times chairman, secretary, committee member and volunteer for DIAL.

Will you help Rotary by filling their collection buckets on February 27?

If you have a story of experience with polio to tell write to: The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or e-mail richard.wood@archant.co.uk

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