England

Tributes paid to Birmingham 1950s polio campaigner

The British Polio Fellowship picture of Head of Commercial at Birmingham City Football Club, Ian Dutton, Dawn Clements and Pam Jones of The British Polio Fellowship Image copyright PA
Image caption Dawn Clements (centre) had been awarded for her work fighting polio

Tributes have been paid to a woman credited with raising awareness about the dangers of polio following the death of her footballer husband.

Dawn Clements urged people to get vaccinated after the death of England and Birmingham City footballer Jeff Hall from the disease in 1959.

Mrs Clements, of Kidderminster, died at the end of last month, aged 79.

The British Polio Fellowship said there are many people alive and well "who owe her a huge debt of gratitude."

'Still matters'

Ted Hill, the charity's chief executive also commended Mrs Clements for helping shine a light on post-polio syndrome (PPS), which is a neurological condition that can occur in people who have had polio.

Image caption Jeff Hall died from polio at the peak of career, aged 29

"It can be difficult to imagine now a time in the UK when polio was killing and paralysing thousands like Jeff," he said.

"Dawn worked to see that no one else had to go through what she did and latterly helped us with our PPS work."

Mr Hall's unexpected death at the peak of his career aged 29 shocked the nation. Take-up of the polio vaccine had been slow in the 1950s but Mrs Clements' campaign is credited with inspiring people to get vaccinated.

The charity head described Mrs Clements, who was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, as "an example to us all" He also passed on his condolences to her surviving husband Alan Clements.

Mr Clements thanked charities as well as the people of Birmingham for "assisting Dawn in all of her remarkable work".

"What she did 50 years ago during the worst time of her life still matters to people. Dawn would want me to thank the fans of Birmingham City and all those for all of their help and support," he said.

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