Telford choir's polio concert results in memorial cup reward

A choir which has raised more than £13,000 with the help of American philanthropist Bill Gates to help prevent polio has been presented with a trophy named in memory of a prominent campaigner.

Trevor Davies of Wrekin Rotary Club with Ken Wagstaff and Chris Mansell, of Hadley Orpheus Male Voice Choir
Trevor Davies of Wrekin Rotary Club with Ken Wagstaff and Chris Mansell, of Hadley Orpheus Male Voice Choir

Hadley Orpheus Male Voice Choir based in Telford generated more than £4,400 in aid of Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign from a concert two years ago.

Its grand effort has now been rewarded with the Dr Fraser Dukes Trophy, in memory of the late Wolverhampton GP, who was among the first to get involved in the Rotarian campaign to eliminate polio when it started in 1986. Dr Dukes died, aged 93, last May.

The sums were then match funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been donating around £2 for every £1 raised by groups taking part in activities to eradicate the condition, resulting in a total £13,456.

The choir, a corporate member of Wrekin Rotary Club, held a sponsored sing for seven hours at Hadley Community Centre for The Big Purple Sing in March 2019 and was nominated for the trophy.

Choir chairman Chris Mansell said: "We were announced as the trophy winners at the start of the November lockdown, but due to the pandemic the presentation is only now being held.

"The lockdowns have been frustrating for us. Last year we performed at just one event which was to entertain 70 residents and staff at Rose Manor sheltered housing complex, in Ketley Park Road, Ketley, at a carol sing-a-long in December.

Cheering up

"We were invited by the staff and 18 of us all wearing masks and standing apart sang to cheer them up a bit.

"We did have some of our members pass away in the last year, but not from Covid-19.

"Our management committee has been holding Zoom meetings to keep things ticking over during the pandemic, but obviously there's been no rehearsals."

Poliomyelitis or poliovirus mainly affects children under five and is spread person-to-erson through contaminated water. It can attack the nervous system and lead to paralysis. The vaccine helps to prevent this.

Rotary International has helped to immunise more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122, countries reducing cases by 99.9 per cent. Just Afghanistan and Pakistan still have cases of wild polio.

Purple is the colour used to stain the little finger of the child when they have been vaccinated so that they do not get a double dose. Purple is the colour of the crocus flowers planted to raise the profile and money for the project so the Telford choir's event was titled The Big Purple Sing.

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