The Rotary Grand Tour takes place from 21st–24th May, with entrants from all over the UK travelling to various checkpoints promoting Rotary’s efforts to eradicate Polio and raise sponsorship along the way. We’re taking club mascot Ash around the country on 21st and 22nd May, and we’re hoping he’ll have plenty of furry company too.

We’re starting early on Monday 21 May, and we’ll be taking a roughly anti-clockwise route around Great Britain, hoping to visit England, Scotland and Wales before returning on the evening of 22 May.

At each of the Rotary checkpoints we will be taking a photo of Ash and some his friends alongside our specially emblazoned transport. We’re hoping to get some famous places in along the way too. Because there’s plenty of space in our vehicle, Ash suggested that we could invite everyone to send along their favourite teddy bear (or soft toy) to travel with us and enjoy the ride. All we’d ask in return is that you consider sponsoring us. The aim of the Grand Tour event is to promote Rotary’s ongoing efforts to eradicate Polio from the world, and to raise much needed funds to pay for the continuing vaccination programmes which are taking place in the endemic countries.

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When the Polio vaccine was first widely available, and Rotary took on the challenge to eradicate the disease in 1985 there were around 1,000 new cases each day and the disease was still common in many countries of the world. Since then cases are down to just a handful a year. There have been just 8 cases so far in 2018, and these are in just two countries. You may not know this, but whilst most people think the teddy bear was invented in the USA as a result of Theodore Roosevelt not wanting to shoot a real one on a hunting trip in 1902, a parallel invention took place in Germany by the now famous Steiff company, who exhibited their first bear at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March 1903. There’s a link here to Polio – the founder of the Steiff company, Margarete Steiff, contracted Polio as a baby and was affected by the illness throughout her life.

So it seems only fitting that Teddy Bears should join our campaign and help us raise funds for the campaign. If you’d like to send a bear along, contact us, and please sponsor us. Of course if you don’t want to send a toy with us, you’re still welcome to sponsor us! The toys that travel with us will feature as much as possible in our photos and posts from the two day trip, and we’ll be taking to social media when it’s safe to do so. We promise to return every one of our passengers safely and with lots of stories of their adventures along the way. 

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to donate to Rotary Foundation online and link it to sponsoring us; we can share payment details to our charity account if you wish to pay electronically, or you can pay us in ‘real’ money – ideally, if you’re a UK taxpayer we’d like to be able to claim back tax relief on your donation, which we can do if you complete the sponsor form details (see below). We’re really keen to get a lot of people involved, so even small donations are gratefully received, especially from children who’d like to see their favourite bear join in Ash’s Adventures.