HUNDREDS of pupils from schools across York have joined the Rotary Club in their fight to eradicate polio from the world’s children.

Working alongside Rotary Club Ainsty, city school children have been busy planting thousands of purple crocus bulbs, which will brighten the city next spring.

Purple represents the colour used to mark children’s little fingers to identify them after inoculation, thus leading to the project’s motto – Purple4Polio.

Polio is a serious viral infection that used to be common in the UK and worldwide. It's rare nowadays because it can be prevented with vaccination.

Most people with polio don't have any symptoms and won't know they're infected. But for up to one in 100 people, the polio virus causes temporary or permanent paralysis, which can be life-threatening.

The sale of the crocus bulbs – paid for by Rotary clubs - raises much-needed funds for this campaign.

York schools involved in the initiative are:

• Yearsley Grove Primary

• St Lawrence’s CE School

• Lakeside Primary

• St George's RC School

• Fishergate

To add support to the pupils’ endeavours, York’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Barbara Boyce with the civic party will be planting crocus corms at 10am on Saturday, November 4 in York Cemetery, assisting the ‘Friends of the Cemetery’.

Following the bulb planting, York Royal British Legion is holding a service at the Cross of Sacrifice to those buried in York Cemetery who lost their lives in conflict at 10.30 on Saturday.

Nigel Walter and Debbie Cousins, heads of the York primary schools - Yearsley Grove and Lakeside - enthusiastically took up Rotary York Ainsty’s offer of 500 crocus corms each to plant in aid of Polio Day.

As well as planting the special bulbs, some of the schoolchildren have been raising money for the Purple4Polio project.

At Lakeside Primary in Clifton Moor, Rotary York Ainsty president, Colin Perrott, spoke to the pupils at a school assembly regarding the campaign.

This is especially apposite as Colin’s sister is a polio sufferer. Supervised by teacher Clare Murphy, who runs the school’s gardening club, the corms were planted close to the school entrance as part of ‘Grandparent’s Gardening Day’.

Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease that still threatens children in parts of the world.

Three countries are still endemic: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Rotary took up the challenge to eradicate polio from the world’s children in 1985, when new cases numbered more than 1,000 a day. This has reduced to under 40 in the past 12 months. World-wide, Rotary clubs have contributed more than £1.3 billion to end polio since the project started.