Tag Archives: EndPolioNow

Rotary in London Plants Marker

Many Rotarians came to Canon’s Park, Stanmore in North West London to support District Governor Helen and Foundation Chairman Tom (see photo) at the Allium Planting Event aimed at claiming a Guinness World Record for Rotary for simultaneous planting.

The main purposes of the event were to celebrate the Centenary of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, and to celebrate the excellent achievement of Rotary International in working towards the eradication of Polio in the world – just 5 cases so far this year.

Behind the scenes, District Public Image Chairman Danielle was working hard, bringing in Civic Leaders and Members of Parliament (at least Members before the snap general election).  The media were there in force too.

We will have to wait and see if the Guinness World Records organisation ratifies our attempt. but it was a very well supported event by the public that brought out a large crowd for the actual planting, and to talk about the work of Rotary International.


Polio Planting Programme

Many Rotarians from our District and further afield, described by the London Live Freeview TV Channel as an “army of volunteers”, assembled at the Benugo Cafe in Regents Park, Central London, before planting our ‘thousands’ of crocus corms on Friday 9 December 2016.

As well as members of our District, we had Ade Adepitan, Konnie Huq, Julia Roberts and Anne Wafula-Strike who are all Rotary International Polio Eradication Ambassadors. Stefan Levy of London Live was also on the scene interviewing the celebrities for the live broadcast.

With Judith Diment, the Rotary International Polio Task Force Advocacy leader lending important support to the event, as well as RIBI President Eve Conway – complete with her teddy bear – this was significant exposure of our work in the media.

And there was even more good news when we learned that there had been no new cases of polio recorded in the world that week, meaning that the total stayed at 34 for the year to date.

Rotarians Shown Appreciation




A large number of Rotarians gathered on Tuesday 15 November 2016 at the Imperial Hotel in Central London for a dinner to receive Appreciation Awards and Certificates from The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Our principle guests were our District Governor, Helen Antoniou, and our Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator and Director of Rotary Foundation UK, John Dunkley from the Rotary Club of South Foreland, near Dover.  The event ran like clockwork under the masterly control of our District Rotary Foundation Chairman Tom Hunt and his team of helpers.

There were certificates for many Clubs, Banners for the Per Capita Awards, and cerificates for the Clubs with the most donors to the Foundation.  The Surya Varsani Award was presented to Stella Russell of the Rotary Club of London Centenary in recognition of her work for over 5 years coordinating the 30+ post graduate Rotary Scholars who come to study at the many schools of London University.

John Dunkley then gave a short address describing the history of the Rotary Foundation, and outlining the difference that it is still making in the world today.

All those who attended had a superb dinner, and a most enjoyable time socialising with their friends, both old and new!

Polio Event in Central London


Members of the District Team and representatives of the media met at the Corinthia Hotel in Central London on World Polio Day, 24 October 2016, to talk about the final stages of Rotary International’s signature project – Polio Eradication.

With input from Rotary’s leaders in Great Britain and Ireland, and Rotary’s worldwide Polio Eradication Advocate Judith Diment, supported by London’s Rotary Foundation Chairman Tom Hunt, the evening was full of useful information and comment.


In particular, Gautum Lewis (above on the left), a child polio sufferer in Calcutta/Kolkota, moved the audience with the story of his early life and with his insight into the future for those who suffered polio in their youth.

Polio Conference Gets 5-Stars

The Rotary Club of The City and Shoreditch hosted a most successful conference on 02 February 2016 at 6 York Gate, Rotary in London’s HQ with the title, “Eradicating Polio – The Next Steps”. Four Distinguished Speakers, and our own District Governor (the 5th Star!) were introduced by Club President Vincenzo Maini – pictured above – and they illuminated the understanding of the present difficulties eradicating polio, and the many problems that will come once the disease has been eradicated.

Professor John Edmunds, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine linked the sessions, Professor Paul Fine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, spoke about the History of the Programme, Professor Nicholas Grassly, Imperial College, dealt with the problems with vaccines over the decades, and what that meant for the Programme, and Professor David Salisbury, Associate Fellow from Chatham House, spoke about the problems yet to come.


The event was most successful, with many people staying on for informal discussion long after the Question and Answer session had finished. There is still much to do, although there was celebration that so far, there have been no recorded cases of wild polio virus anywhere in the world since 01 January 2016. Well done, the Rotary Club of The City and Shoreditch.

Rotary Gets Proper Polio Credit


A distinguished group of people, many with a personal interest in polio, gathered at the House of Commons on Tuedsay 6 May 2014 to hear about the progress that Rotary has been making on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

sharmaThe meeting started with The Hon Virendra Sharma MP announcing the principle achievement being celebrated was the brilliant news that India is now officially certificated as being Polio-Free. The last recorded case in India occured in February 2011, so the country has been free of polio for more than 3 years. Granting the certificate to India meant that the whole of South East Asia is now clear, and Rotary International was given full recognition for its role in this achievement.

scottRotarian Bob Scott, Chairman of Rotary International’s Polio Plus Committee gave an update on the worldwide position, and the steps that had been taken around the world from the original pilot programme in the 1970s in the Philippines, through the worldwide launch in 1985 and ended with a restatement of the certificate for South East Asia. In the audience were representatives from India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Indonesia, along with major donors and campaigners.

greeningNext to the microphone was Secretary of State for International Development The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP (and a member of the Rotary Club of Putney), who described how a world without polio was now tantalisingly close. Just five years ago, India accounted for more than half the world’s children contracting polio. The commitment of the UK Government to provide up to £300m over the next 5 years to the project was also confirmed. Between now and the target 2018 End Date, it is estimated that the project will prevent 8 million potential cases of polio that would have occured without Rotary International’s initiative. Not having those cases would provide economic benefits in the order of over £31bn.

aylwardDr Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation, provided up to date information on Pakistan where 12 immunisation initiatives have taken place so far this year without a single fatality. He had provided this story to the media but it had not been published. He described how the project would never have started if it had not been for Rotary International, and although big supporters had joined when we were winning, they would never have come along without the long term dedication and determination of Rotary International. The estimates of what the project will cost in total is now $10-$15bn, but the payback in the polio countries will be in the order of $50bn, and for the world as a whole in the order of $100bn. We have to continue because it just makes sense to get there.

kennyJohn Kenny, Chair or the Trustees of the Rotary Foundation reminded those present that although this was a celebration to be remembered, the war was still not yet won. We must copy the determination of the Rotarians in India who did not lose heart but remained united and unflagging in their support.

We then heard from two polio survivors who brought a serious note to the proceedings. Bina Patel had contracted polio in Kenya at the age of two. Also we heard from Arun Patel, a polio victim from the age of one, and today a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Dagenham. Many survivors are alive today thanks to the care that they received whilst suffering from polio, and they also need the concern and attention of Rotarians. We need to follow Arun’s personal example – he has already raised almost $2m for the charity he started – Polio Children.

group2In the previous week, a group of 5 Rotary Scholars at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine had provided a seminar on Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Project, and they were all present at the House of Commons with some of the other Rotary Scholars in London.

The BBC had featured the project that morning on the Today programme with John Humphrys interviewing Dr Bruce Aylward. Dr Aylward was able to explain that although Afghanistan and Pakistan were listed as polio endemic, the disease is now isolated to one mountainous border region between the two countries. The cure to the problem was travel control – not travel prevention. Allowing travellers to get free immunisations well before they travel between and around the two countries would greatly assist in clearing the disease from both countries.


Polio Eradication in the Media?

District Governor Dick writes:
Many Rotarians have asked me about the publicity that Rotary International has received for its work on the eradication of polio. The General Secretary of Rotary International has responded. Please READ THIS and TELL ROTARIANS in your Club.

Rukhsar Khatoon the last child with polio in India
Rukhsar Khatoon, the last child with polio in India

“Rotary is receiving significant international media coverage this week for its role in the historic polio-free certification of the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia region.
Highlights include:
CNN International: India beats the odds, beats polio
BBC.com : World now 80% polio free, World Health Organization says
The Guardian: India may be free of polio – but the disease hasn’t been eradicated yet(op-ed by Archie Panjabi)
Reuters: Q+A: India at risk until polio is eradicated globally-Rotary
The Wall Street Journal Online: Q&A: India Eliminates Polio
The Huffington Post: Violinist & Conductor Itzhak Perlman LIVE
Forbes.com: John Hewko explains polio’s legacy

A complete report will follow. Please share the good news with others. I am also pleased to report that Rotary received extensive media coverage throughout 2013, with more than

  • 626 news organizations in
  • 35 countries featuring our humanitarian efforts. Of those,
  • 58 stories appeared in top tier international news organizations, including

Nine out of the 10 most influential ranked by Forbes, including the

  • Associated Press,
  • The New York Times,
  • The BBC,
  • Agence France Presse,
  • The Washington Post and
  • The Wall Street Journal.

Rotary’s role in the fight to end polio was highlighted in top-level, global media at unprecedented levels last year. And Rotary’s partnership with its celebrity ambassadors for polio eradication helped raise our digital visibility to new audiences via posts on endpolio.org and celebrity social media channels.

Yours in Rotary Service
John Hewko
General Secretary
Rotary International

Enclosed are a
Word Document with highlights and links to the coverage (41 page document).
Summary Report of Rotary in the Media 2013.

Rotarians – what is on your mind?

DSC04162Here are some of the questions that I have been asked whilst making presentations to Clubs in the London District during July 2013.

Polio Eradication

  •             Why is there a problem in Banadir Province, Somalia?
  •             Why is Polio Eradication scheduled to take another 5 years?
  •             What will Rotary tackle after Polio Eradication?

Marketing and Information Technology

  •             What is the importance of Twitter and Social Media?
  •             Is there a marketing plan for Rotary in London – can I see it?
  •             Is Rotary doing enough Rotary Service in London to promote itself?

Membership Questions

  •             What is your elevator pitch?
  •             How are you going to use the CSR Video and where?
  •             Can we promote Corporate Membership in all our Clubs?
  •             Can we have a new pin for Corporate Members?
  •             How do we determine if a potential member should join?
  •             What substitutes for Personal Sponsorship today?
  •             How can we address London’s special membership problems?
  •             Why did the new Clubs close so quickly after they were chartered?
  •             When will Rotary make a stand against single gender Rotary clubs?

More questions will be posted as my visits progress. All these questions need to be addressed over the coming months.

Rotary Polio Eradication featured in the Independent newspaper

The links to the electronic version of The Independent article see:

DG Eve