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Tragic and inspiring polio tales

PUBLISHED: 14:06 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:31 06 July 2010

THREE clubs join together for one very good cause tomorrow, as collectors hit the streets of Lowestoft as part of a worldwide programme aimed at eradicating poliomyelitis.

THREE clubs join together for one very good cause tomorrow, as collectors hit the streets of Lowestoft as part of a worldwide programme aimed at eradicating poliomyelitis.

The town's three Rotary clubs will be shaking their buckets and rattling their tins for the Polio Plus programme, as they encourage local people to give generously to battle a disease that is still endemic in other parts of the world.

We asked for your stories and experiences of polio to help raise more awareness ahead of the collection, and here we detail two of the responses we received.

The first is a tragic tale from Inner Wheel Lowestoft member Yvonne Eaton, who lost her father Joseph Laurie Whyte suddenly to polio on October 6, 1950.

“My father was a railway car attendant for GWR at the time. He was working in the restaurant car, carrying soup when his legs collapsed under him,” said Mrs Eaton.

“I rushed to the hospital, my father was lying in the bed with a frame over his legs. He asked me to straighten his legs, I looked under the covers and his legs were already straight, I of course made out to straighten them out.

“I stayed awhile and on leaving the ward, my father had made a tremendous effort to pull himself up and waved to me. He was 50 and died that night.”

Mrs Rosa Cleveland, of Oulton Broad, also contacted us to tell the inspiring story of her mother Rosa, who managed to thrive against the odds.

“When she was nearly four years old she became very ill after having an infection for small pox - it was a compulsory injection in those days. It was polio then called infantile paralysis. She spent weeks in Lowestoft Hospital unable to move. Eventually she slowly recovered after treatment and out patients for several years,” said Mrs Cleveland.

The doctors said Rosa might live to the age of 14 and would always have to wear surgical boots fitted with callipers, but she was keen to prove them wrong and didn't let this hold her back.

After marrying George Tegerdine she was told she would never be able to have children, but two years later she gave birth to her daughter Rosa.

“In her 50s she had a big operation on her ankle and foot in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital - at last she could wear shoes and discard the irons,” said Mrs Cleveland. “She passed away 12 years ago, three weeks before her 95th birthday. She had out lived all her sisters and brother.”

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