SCHOOLCHILDREN have planted thousands of purple crocus bulbs as part of a campaign to eradicate polio.

Pupils at Polam Hall School have played a leading role in this year’s ‘Purple4Polio’ initiative, led locally by Darlington Rotary.

The youngsters have planted 4,000 bulbs at Abbeyfield retirement home – as well as in their own school grounds – as part of a colourful campaign.

Darlington Rotary has this year planted 12,000 purple crocus bulbs across the borough to mark World Polio Day, bringing the total planted by the club over the past 10 years to 38,000.

Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio for more than 35 years as a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Today, the disease remains endemic in only two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan – but the fight goes on.

The purple crocus is a symbol of the campaign because purple dye is traditionally used to mark the fingers of children who have been immunised.

Polam Hall pupil Freya Wilkinson said: “It’s been nice to plant so many bulbs because we want to play our part in stopping this disease, and growing all these flowers will help build awareness of the campaign.”

As they planted the bulbs at Abbeyfield, the children waved at residents who were overjoyed to see them.

Kate Reid, Polam Hall principal, said: “We are thrilled to be part of such an important campaign, and to learn about the impact polio still has in other parts of the world.

“It will not only raise awareness of the ongoing need to eradicate this disease but brighten up our local community. The children have loved being involved and are really excited about seeing the flowers bloom in Spring.”

Socially-distanced Rotarians also planted 4,000 purple crocus bulbs at the entrance to Rockliffe Court, in Hurworth.

Another 2,000 were planted on Rotary Way, in Darlington, and the remaining 2,000 were delivered to houses across Darlington with an explanatory note about the campaign.

Darlington Rotary vice president, Peter Phillips, whose daughters were taught at Polam Hall, said: “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the pupils and, when they see the bulbs coming up, it will be a colourful reminder of the importance of the campaign to eradicate polio.”