CHILDREN with severe and profound learning difficulties rose to a daunting culinary challenge in a bid to support polio vaccination in the handful of countries still rife with the virus.

Around 30 students at Uplands School spent nearly three weeks chopping kilos of vegetables and slaving over the stove to prepare scrumptious pots of soup before selling them along with rolls and cakes at lunchtime yesterday as part of the Rotary Club’s World’s Greatest Meal.

Teachers and visitors lined up to get a taste of the unctuous soup, which was sold for £3, £1 of which went to the Rotary’s End Polio campaign and will allow the organisation to pay for three vaccines.

Jenny Wilson, higher level teaching assistant at Uplands, said the task had allowed pupils to gain new important life skills.

“We worked on the students’ cutting skills, helped them to work towards their independence and use their hands to develop their fine motor skills. “We chose vegetables with different textures, like swede, carrots, leeks and potatoes, to add to the sensory experience “We were aiming to make 60 to 100 covers and so far we have had 43 orders from staff and we have had a lot visitors.”

Teachers made sure the pupils had as clear an understanding as possible of the polio virus before they tackled the preparation of the charity lunch.

“It was quite hard for them to comprehend what polio was but we showed them a short film about it to help them understand why they were doing it,” added Jenny.

The children were invited to raise funds to boost vaccination by Mary Loran, a member of online rotary club District 1100 eClub which runs the Interact Club at Uplands.

Although great strides have been made to eradicate polio and save thousands of children’s lives, it still remains endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Fiona Clark, lead for community inclusion and work-related learning at the school, added: “It has been lovely to see everybody working together for other people. It can be difficult for our young people with autism because they find working as a team quite challenging. “We are all about empowering our young people to support others and this lunch linked brilliantly with our curriculum.

“It has helped them think beyond their own community and their own experience.”

Mary Loran said she was impressed with the pupils’ efforts.

“It has been amazing. It is really lovely to see how enthusiastic they were. I’m really impressed that they did it. It’s really important; just £1 will save the lives of three children.”