Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 11:59

Hundreds of children are set to plant 10,000 purple crocus bulbs at the Eden Project to highlight a campaign to eradicate polio.

Up to 250 young people from local schools, youth groups and clubs are expected to take part in the Big Bulb Plant at Eden on Saturday, October 2, as part of a nationwide campaign organised by Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland (RIBI).

Rotary clubs are encouraging societies and schools across the nation to plant five million bulbs - the most planted under a single project.

The purple flowers represent the colour applied to children’s fingers when they are immunised against polio.

At Eden, the bulbs will be planted in pots and tended to in the nursery over winter before being brought to the Visitor Centre when the plants flower, coinciding with RIBI’s Thanks for Life – Rotary Day next February.

Rotary has campaigned for global immunisation against polio for 25 years. With the support of the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the movement has reduced the number of countries where polio is endemic from 125 to just four – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

John Pearce, Rotary District Governor of Plymouth, West Devon, Cornwall and the Isles Scilly, said: “Polio is a disease that kills and paralyses. It devastates families and communities. It is essential that this scourge is removed from the world. This has been a long campaign and we are tantalizingly close to seeing it completed successfully.

“The planting of the purple crocus at Eden and all around Great Britain and Ireland is intended to reinforce this message and to encourage people to donate to the campaign when they all the crocus flower in February.”

Justine Quinn, Interpretation Manager at Eden, said: “'We're delighted to be able to extend our long standing relationship with Rotary to include their Thanks for Life polio eradication campaign.

“Although there's a serious message behind the day, it will be lots of fun and those involved will also get to peek behind the scenes of our Mediterranean Biome while they plant the bulbs.”

Planting takes place between 10am to 3pm in the Mediterranean Biome and there is free entry to Eden for all participating bulb planters.

Extra volunteers are welcome and people interested in taking part in the event should phone David Jones on 01736 741348 for further details.