From Mrs Allen, Newport:

Reading Brian Greening’s article about the outbreak of Polio on the IW in the 1950s (CP, Weekender 25-01-19) has brought back memories of my own childhood during this time, remembering the half-day school attendance and the importance of cleanliness.

In October 1949, the year prior to the outbreak, I was nine with a younger brother and sister and my late father was taken seriously ill. After many tests and home visits by our doctor he was diagnosed with infantile paralysis. He was just 38. His work on building sites brought him into contact with dirty drains and this was blamed for his condition.

He was transferred to the isolation hospital at Fairlee (as mentioned by Mr Greening) where he remained for six to eight weeks because he had lost the use of both legs. There was only one other lady patient on the ward who had succumbed to the virus, sadly she was encased in an iron lung.

Thankfully, dad escaped this ghastly contraption, much to my mother’s relief. When he eventually returned home he was determined to walk again and with the help of a wonderful masseur (Arthur Mee) and many months of treatment, he regained partial use in his legs and slowly began to walk again, albeit with a very noticeable limp.

We were all so thankful to have dad back with us again. He went on to become a very keen bowler and lived until he was 85.

Having lived with someone close who had suffered the effects of this dreadful illness it is comforting to know that polio has almost been eradicated.