IT was time to get the kettle on and set out the cake for a spread to send out a very serious message.

The Rotary Club of Colchester hosted a quintessentially English tea party at the Batte-Lay Tearoom at the Minories as part of a special appeal to try to rid the world of polio.

The £3million appeal is being supported by the Gazette and jam maker, Wilkin and Sons.

Wednesday's event riased more than £200 and was one of numerous Purple4Polio tea parties simultaneously hosted by rotary clubs across the country.

Ian McMeekan, of the Rotary Club of Colchester, said: "It went extremely well. It was a very enjoyable tea party and there were over 50 people there."

As part of the campaign Wilkin and Sons has created 52,000 specially branded jars of plum and greengage Purple4Polio jam.

Mr McMeekan said a number of these were sold at the event.

These will be distributed to Rotarians across Britain and Ireland.

Rotarians will be asked to give a donation of £2 for the jam and once the jars have been emptied, they will be asked to fill them with coins.

It is hoped this will raise in the region of £1 million which will be double match funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to total £3 million.

If enough money can be raised, it will be used to immunise all children in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria and in so doing polio will have been wiped off the face of the earth.

Mr McMeekan added: "Wilkin and Sons have been very supportive of the whole venture.

"We were very fortunate to have the chairman of Wilkin and Sons, Peter Wilkin, who spoke of their support for this venture and our district governor spoke about the work against polio."

A talk was also given by past president Robert MacCauley, who has visited India where there are still immunisation campaigns giving polio drops to every single child under five.

Mr McMeekan added: "There were also a number of non Rotarians there so we spread the message a bit wider."

The Rotary polio campaign dates back to 1985 and the ambitious promise Rotarians made to the mothers of the world that polio would be eradicated and their children would no longer suffer from the life threatening disease.

There needs to be three years with not a single new case anywhere for the whole world to be declared polio free.