Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Search is on for the lollipop patrollers

Wanted: lollipop patrollers!

School crossing patrol 'sheriff' Mark Shaw has been eyeing the danger spots on roads heading into town. And he needs nine lollipop ladies or men to give Buckinghamshire's children a safe crossing.

Once he finds them, he's sure they'll stick around - for a long time!

Nearly a third of Buckinghamshire's school crossing patrollers, who ensure a safe journey daily for thousands of children and parents going to and from school, have served for more than 10 years.

Seven have been patrolling for more than 20 years and one, Christine Walker, who sees children across the road at West Wycombe, will have clocked up 37 years in February.

Long-serving patroller great-grandmother Irene Warne, who has notched up more than 25 years, has seen four generations of her family across the road, and now crosses her great-grandson Caleb.

Irene, guarding the Elmhurst, Aylesbury, crossing says she can't think of a job she'd rather be doing.

‘I know I’m out in all weathers, but I still love the job and I love seeing the children every day,' said Irene. 'To me it’s important that they see a smiley face on their way to school.’

And at Beaconsfield, one crossing patrol is so popular it has three lollipop ladies. Jenny Flynn, Debbie Marsden and Belinda Avery take shifts looking after the High March School crossing.

Debbie said the trio love the daily smiles, 'thank-yous' and waves from the children and local people. 'This is more than enough reward for the job,' she said. 'But hopefully we are making a difference as well - helping to make them safer and also happier to walk to school.'

Mark, Buckinghamshire County Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport, is in awe of patrollers' devotion to duty. 'They all play a fantastic part in our children's safety. But for everyone, much as they love the job, there comes a time when they want to stand down,' he said.

'And I'm looking to round up nine new patrollers to keep our children safe crossing our busy roads. They're wanted . . . but for no longer than an hour or so a day.'

'Sheriff' Mark will be visiting school crossing patrols in Buckingham, Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Beaconsfield to support a recruitment campaign that launches on Monday (December 1).

And Mark's 'sheriff' image will be appearing on posters and leaflets in schools, libraries, surgeries, and community notice boards.