Childhood antics lead to polio campaign

LITTLE did 12-year-old Brian Condon know that the boy he was carrying on the handlebars of his bicycle would change his life forever.

It was about 1938 and Brian was giving a dinky ride to Georgie Shearer, 10, who would be dead two days later from polio.

Today, Brian has built a legacy based on his own experiences with the death of both Georgie and a woman relative from the disease.

He has been recognised for his strong record of donations to Rotary Foundation, which helps fight polio around the world, and has just been named as a Level Two Donor.

“In those days, it was infantile paralysis and there was an epidemic of the disease just before World War II,” said Brian, a past-president of the Rotary Club of Port Pirie and former world president of Flying Rotarians.

“The schools were closed for three months because of the epidemic and we did our lessons out of The Advertiser.

“When polio eradication became a project for Rotary I was very interested to support the campaign because of my own personal involvement.”

Fellow Rotarian Ron Johns recalls during the epidemic that his mother, upon receiving a letter in the mail, would heat the envelope in the oven for fear of polio contamination.

Ron, a farmer, and Brian, a retired soft-drink manufacturer, were in the same class at Port Pirie High School and recalled that one of the more famous graduates of that group was internationally-acclaimed actor Keith Michell, who lived at Warnertown near Port Pirie.

But Ron has his own claim to fame, having just notched up 100-percent attendance at the Port Pirie club for the past 35 years.

“Attendance is a ‘basic’ of Rotary. You don’t know what is happening, what the projects are, if you don’t attend,” said the past-president.

“The thing I have enjoyed most is the fellowship.”

Ron and Brian are both 88 and are an inspiration to younger members of the club for their amazing deeds.

Brian Condon, right, and Ron Johns have been major figures in Rotary.

Brian Condon, right, and Ron Johns have been major figures in Rotary.