On 2 February 2023 at the Captains Club Hotel, Christchurch Rotary Club held its 12th annual wine-tasting to raise funds for the Rotary EndPolioNow programme. Over £1,500 was raised, which – when augmented to £4,500 by the generous two-for-one additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – is sufficient to immunise over 11,000 children.

The EndPolioNow programme started in the 1980s, when Rotarians embarked on the breathtakingly ambitious idea of wiping out polio from the world. They inspired other international agencies to join in, including the World Health Organisation, and, more recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Now, some 40 years later, we are close to the finishing line. New so-called Wild Polio cases have reduced from 350,000 a year in 125 polio endemic countries in 1985 to some 60 new cases in 2022 in isolated areas in 3 countries, Pakistan, Mozambique and Afghanistan. That is a reduction from an average of 1000 new cases a day to an average of 1 new case every 6 days. But that’s still 60 cases a year too many, and so, with traces of the polio virus being detected during routine environmental samplings in a north London sewerage works in June 2022, Christchurch Rotary continues to run activities such as the annual wine-tasting, which attracts some 60 guests for an evening combining education with fun, to support this vital cause.

Organiser Peter Boardman said, “Our huge thanks to Tim and Robert at The Captains Club for very generously donating the use of their splendid Function Room for the evening, and for hosting and providing the delicious supper. Thank you also to all the staff involved, and to Chris of Ellis Wines for supplying the wines, guiding us through the wine tasting and quiz, and for very generously donating the huge bottle of red wine for the auction – very much appreciated indeed”.

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