Polio survivor and former Diss Express journalist welcomes £100m cash boost to eradicate disease for good

Polio survivor and former Diss Express journalist, Giles Large.
Polio survivor and former Diss Express journalist, Giles Large.

An Earl Soham resident and former Diss Express journalist who survived polio has welcomed the government’s latest push to eradicate the disease for good.

Giles Large was eight-weeks-old when he caught polio. He was in North Borneo where his father was the chief of police and was treated in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, before moving to Suffolk.

I have struggled my whole adult life with the after-effects of childhood polio; it’s painful, debilitating and frustrating

Giles Large, polio survivor

The disease was wiped out in the UK during the 1980s and there are more than 100,000 British survivors today – but globally, it still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Priti Patel, MP for Witham and Secretary of State for International Development, announced on Friday a further £100m of support which will immunise up to 45 million children against polio each year until 2020.

The last case of polio could be this year – and it takes three years without a single case to prove eradication.

“I have struggled my whole adult life with the after-effects of childhood polio; it’s painful, debilitating and frustrating,” said Mr Large, who belongs to the Suffolk Driving for the Disabled group.

“I am very pleased that the UK Government is doing this, it’s not before time. Polio is a horrific disease and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

“After you’ve had Polio you recover – not to the extent that I could open the batting for Lords or run 100 metres in 10 seconds – but then it tends to come back. In layman’s terms it comes back to get the bits of you it didn’t get the first time. It weakens all the muscles you have left.

“Ten years ago I was able to walk 10-15 miles; now I struggle to walk 10 metres.

“Getting up, washed and dressed can take up to two hours.

“The sooner we can eradicate polio the better.”