One of North East’s last polio victims who survived iron lung as a child has died aged 71

Anne Elizabeth (Liz) Jenkins with her daughter Alysia and grandson Jason. Credit: Family photo.

One of North East’s last polio victims who survived iron lung as a child has died.

Anne Elizabeth Jenkins - known as Liz - died on 19 December 2022 aged 71. She was one of the last cases of polio in the North East.

Ms Jenkins - who was born in 1952 - contracted polio when she was 15 months old, after paddling in the sea, and spent the following 18 months in hospital.

She was placed in an iron lung for six weeks as a child and had a spinal infusion.

Liz the day after she came out of the iron lung in October/November 1952. Credit: Alysia Jenkins Hyde
Liz learning to walk again in the summer of 1954. Credit: Alysia Jenkins Hyde
Liz on holiday in Sherburn in August 1964. Credit: Alysia Jenkins Hyde
Liz wearing a Milwaukee brace, which is used to correct spine deformities. Credit: Alysia Jenkins Hyde

Ms Jenkins went on to become a teacher at Elmfield Primary School in Newton Aycliffe for 20 years, until her early retirement in 1992 due to ill health.

Liz as a teacher at Elmfield Primary School at Newton Aycliffe (bottom row, second from the left). Credit: Alysia Jenkins Hyde

Her daughter, Alysia Jenkins Hyde, from Darlington, has started a fundraising campaign in her memory, raising £1893 for End Polio Now, ran by the Rotary Club of Leicester.

Liz Jenkins with her daughter Alysia Jenkins Hyde. Credit: Family photo

Ms Jenkins Hyde paid tribute to her mother, who had shared her story on social media ahead of her passing.

She told ITV News Tyne Tees: "Because of her polio, and the difference Salk's vaccination would have made to her life, my mam was always a fierce advocate of vaccinations.

"She wasn't a fan of her little bent and scarred legs, but she thought it was really important people should see them.

"My mam was my hero, and this was important to her so it is very important to me -especially now."

Ms Jenkins Hyde spoke fondly of her family's travel abroad to the US, but said that her mum's favourite place to visit was Scarborough, where she went on honeymoon with her husband Ray.

She said that her mum wrote letters every Christmas to send to her friends and family and she sent this letter while in hospital in December last year.

A Christmas newsletter written by Liz Jenkins in December 2022. Credit: Alysia Hyde Jenkins
Liz Jenkins with her husband, Ray, daughter, Alysia and grandson, Jason. Credit: Family photo.

Ms Jenkins Hyde added: "Other than when she was teaching, when she used crutches, my mam needed a wheelchair to get around and had to rely on others her whole life.

"Despite this, her childhood filled with lots of pain and separation from her family, all the times people underestimated and looked down at her because of her disabilities she was the most smiling happy positive person you could ever hope to meet.

"My husband said she opened her mouth and sunshine and rainbows flew everywhere. It is true. She really was that person."

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