Take a wander down the High Street in Linlithgow this week and you might notice something a little bit different.
Shoppers in particular will find something peculiar in window displays of a number of shops in the town.
That is because 26 businesses are participating in the Rotary Club of Linlithgow Grange’s “odd item out” competition during the organisation’s Rotary Week which is being held to raise awareness of their fight to end polio.
For seven days each shop involved has agreed to join by putting something in their window that they wouldn’t normally sell.
The Rotary’s global polio eradication programme has reduced cases by 99.9 per cent since it started in 1985.
The campaign has drawn the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Unicef, the World Health Organisation and others. In 2011 the Rotary’s funding to end Polio had exceeded over $1 billion dollars (£806 million).
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease with no cure. It can cause paralysis and is an enterovirus which enters the mouth and multiplies in the intestine, invading the central nervous system.
However, Rotarians have helped immunise more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries, leaving just 37 cases known worldwide in 2016. There are still known cases in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is now required eliminate the scourge completely.
Competitions such as the one being held in the town next week for children serve to help raise awareness of the cause. A similar event ran last year and the response was positive from local businesses so they wanted to take part again.
Some products were more easier to find than others for instance a pair of pliers in a card shop but some were more difficult like a can of tomato soup amongst cans of dog food in Linlithgow Pet Shop.
It led to a healthy competition between youngsters – who had enlisted the help of parents and grandparents in their quest to find the “odd item out” – and kept shop owners amused as they watched clusters of kids gaze into their windows.
Entry to the competition is free and forms can be picked up at any of the participating shops, which can be easily identified by a poster bearing the Rotary logo displayed in the window.
Once completed forms can be handed into the Line Gallery by March 4. Two prizes of book tokens are to be won – one for children ten years or under and one for 11 years or older.
Chris Long, of Linlithgow Grange Rotary Club said, “We’re delighted at the uptake by the local shopkeepers for this event.
“It is a win-win situation for everyone encouraging, as it does, the townspeople to visit their local shopping area, provide footfall into local stores to collect a free entry form, and promote Rotary and the good works we do in our community and internationally.”