A POLIO survivor from Dudley who battled the debilitating illness as a youngster has been thanked for his work in helping to eradicate the disease.

Paul Robinson contracted polio as a baby in 1961 aged only ten months old, after medics initially diagnosed him with a stomach bug.

Paul was rushed to an isolation unit when doctors realised he had the illness, which can leave children unable to walk for the rest of their lives.

The youngster then spent a year in hospital, where he was put on a 'danger list' and he was paralysed up to the neck for two years.

Paul, now 57, said: "During this time, I was on the danger list for 14 weeks. When you were on the danger list, you were not expected to live."

Throughout his childhood Paul had to wear calipers and endured countless operations.

He said: "Having polio pushed me to do more because people said I couldn’t."

This tenacity saw Paul enter mainstream education after he was told he had to attend a special school.

Paul said: "I crawled on the desk and said to him [the headteacher], ‘You’re not leaving until you sign the papers to let me come to this school’."

Paul was one of a group of survivors, campaigners and fundraisers who met with International Development Secretary Alok Sharma in London this week to mark World Polio Day on October 23.

The group were thanked for their work in fundraising for polio treatment, which has seen the UK help vaccinate 45 million children around the world each year.

The number of people contracting the disease around the world has been reduced by over 99.9% since 1988, but experts warn that new polio cases could increase to 200,000 a year over the next ten years if efforts to fight the disease stall.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: "The UK is the second largest government donor in the fight against polio globally, and this is something I am incredibly proud of.

"We need to continue this vital work to immunise children, both around the world and in the UK, to keep polio at bay.

“If we were to pull back on immunisations, in a decade we could see 200,000 new cases each year, which would be a tragedy for the children and the families affected, but also the world.”

Paul, who works for the AA, is still living with the ramifications of the disease as he suffers from post-polio syndrome and uses a mobility scooter.

Commenting on what it would mean to him for the disease to be fully eradicated around the world, he said: "It would be the absolute dream. I have tried not to let it stop me doing anything, but I would not wish it upon any child, anywhere. It would be a dream come true."