A Hauntingly Beautiful Sight in York Cemetery

If ever a picture painted a thousand words then it must be one of the following, taken in York Cemetery this week.


What the photos reflect is the sheer beauty of a carpet of purple which has been created by the planting of 18,000 crocus corms at the cemetery.  The corms were planted as part of the “Purple4Polio” initiative created by Rotary International.  

In October 2018/2019 pupils from 3 local schools: St. Georges Primary, St. Lawrence’s Primary and Fishergate Primary commenced the planting and on November task days planting was open to everyone and they were joined by 50 people of all ages, including the then Lord Mayor of York, Cllr. Barbara Boyce and the Civic Party.

As a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication programme, Rotary International has helped to reduce polio cases by 99.9% since their first vaccination initiative was launched in the Phillippines in 1979.  Rotary International has helped to vaccinate over 2.5 billion children in 122 countries, having contributed more than $1.8 billion towards eradicating the disease worldwide.

Today, polio remains endemic in only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria although just 22 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2017 – which is a phenomenal reduction from the 1980s when the world witnessed around 1,000 cases per day.  

The significance of the colour purple and the strapline “Purple4Polio” is that when a child receives their life-saving polio drops on mass polio immunisation days in many countries their little finger is painted with a purple dye so it is clear they have received their life-saving vaccine.

The poignancy of the thousands of purple crocus in York Cemetery is that they have been planted in an area of small tombstones of babies and young children, which makes the beautiful sight all the more thought-provoking and such a hauntingly beautiful sight.  

Thank you to York Cemetery office for providing more information about the Purple4Polio initiative.  Further information and how you can make a donation can be found on the Rotary International website: https://www.rotary.org/en/our-causes/ending-polio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *