SHORTAGE OF SCHOOL PATROLLERS
People are being called on to take up their lollipop sticks and ensure children safely cross the road by becoming a school patroller. JO-ANNE ROWNEY and CAMILLA GOODMAN report
THEY brave the howling wind, the driving rain, sometimes rude and aggressive motorists and take responsibility for the lives of hundreds of young children every morning.
The devoted army of lollipop patrollers are the unsung heroes of Buckinghamshire. Three years ago their future was in doubt after cashstrapped Bucks County Council considered axing funding for the service.
The move prompted a fierce backlash from the public and forced the council into a U-turn.
School crossing patrollers are still a common sight outside our schools and the devoted men and women tend to stay in the role for years.
But now there are a series of vacancies and this newspaper is happy to support this vital service, showcase some of these heroes of the highways and urge readers to fill some of the vacancies to keep our children safe on the school run.
The role is paid, and requires the patroller to be free early for the walk to school and later as the children leave for the day. LONG SERVICE Nearly a third of Buckinghamshire’s school crossing patrollers have served for more than 10 years.
Seven have done the job for more than 20 years and one, Christine
I know I’m out in all weathers, but I still love the job and I love seeing the children every day”
Walker, who sees children across the road at West Wycombe, will have clocked up 37 years in February.
Long-serving greatgrandmother Irene Warne has seen four generations of her family across the road during more than 25 years of service, and now helps her great-grandson, Caleb, to cross.
Irene, who works at the Elmhurst, Aylesbury, crossing, says she cannot think of a job she would rather do.
“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.” BEACONSFIELD – HIGH MARCH SCHOOL In Beaconsfield, one crossing patrol is so popular it has not one, but three lollipop ladies.
Jenny Flynn, Debbie Marsden and Belinda Avery take turns looking after the High March School crossing.
Debbie said they love the daily smiles, thankyous 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.”
She added: “Originally we walked a crocodile a few hundred metres between St Michael’s Church and the school, helping about eight children.
“Now the crossing patrollers must cross over 50 children a day. You never get cold wearing the fetching insulated warm outfit and constantly moving. The time flies.”
Debbie, whose daughters attended the school, said she also feels like she is making a difference.
She added: “I would like to believe that the help and encouragement we provided has helped to make them safer and also happier to walk, reducing the ever-increasing use of cars and development of obesity.
“If that were true this hour twice a week could be making a vast difference to many peoples lives now and in the future.”
Belinda, who has been a patroller for about four years, said: “I love to start my Wednesday catching up with so many pupils, parents and staff coming into school with a smile, wave or thank you.”
She added: “In my capacity as school travel governor, I am pleased to have a hands-on element to my role, so that rather than just writing letters of apology from an ivory tower when another parent drives or parks inconsiderately, I can contribute in a hands-on way.”
Jenny, who started in January, commented: “I cannot think of a single downside to being a patroller.
“Passers-by often express sympathy if it’s raining, foggy or particularly cold, but there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
She added: “It is a privilege to do something to support the local community, to make it easier for children to walk to school and to help them cross the road safely.
“I doubt there are many people who receive over 300 thank-yous and good mornings before 9am on a working day. I’d encourage anyone who has the time to become a patroller.” POLITICIAN Buckinghamshire County Council deputy cabinet member for transport Mark Shaw said he is in awe of patrollers’ devotion to duty.
“They all play a fantastic part in our children’s safety,” he added.
“But for everyone, much as they love the job, there comes a time when they want to stand down.
“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.”
Mr Shaw will visit school crossing patrols in Buckingham, Aylesbury,
High Wycombe and Beaconsfield to support the recruitment campaign launched on Monday.
An image of him as a sheriff image will appear on posters and leaflets in schools, libraries, surgeries and community notice boards. HEADTEACHER THE headteacher of a school campaigning to get its own patroller has spoken about how important the role is.
More than 100 parents at Elmtree School in Elm Tree Hill, Chesham, have signed a petition to get a crossing patrol in the ‘extremely busy’ Bellingdon Road, near Deansway.
The petition, which attracted 124 signatures, was handed to Chesham and Chiltern Villages Local Area Forum in October and is being considered by Bucks County Council.
Earlier this year, the school asked parents to look at improving safety for pupils crossing Bellingdon Road following complaints about how busy it is.
A lollipop patroller was the favoured solution.
Parents must prove the need for the patroller, so they monitored the traffic. In a 30-minute period, the parents recorded about 600 cars and 50 lorries passing, with 50 children waiting to cross.
Headteacher Daphne Dru said: “A lollipop patroller is absolutely essential for Bellingdon Road, it’s an absolute race track. A lot of people live the other side of Bellingdon Road and the zebra crossing is a long way away.
“It will also encourage more parents to walk rather than get in the car. We do have problems with parking around the school so this facility would be great.
“A lollipop person also becomes part of the school. They’re an important part of the school community and often they’re meeting and greeting children first thing in the morning, which can make all the difference to their day if they’re nice and smiley.”
Mrs Dru is urging people who have the time to become a patroller.
She added: “It is tricky as it’s at two odd times of the day and it’s quite a commitment, but if people have the capacity in the day to do it then it’ll be very rewarding, just like being a teacher or member of staff in a school, it’s amazingly rewarding.
“I’d encourage anyone who has the time to do it.”
I doubt there are many people who receive over 300 thank-yous and good mornings before 9am on a working day. I’d encourage anyone who
has the time to become a patroller”
pa THREE’S ALLOWED: Lollipop Avery
GENERATION GAME: Irene Warne with granddaughter Stacey and great-grandson Caleb
REWARDING: (Above) Elmtree School headteacher Daphne Dru with pupils (from left) Josef Baker, Laiqa Kiana, Skye Lampett, Daphne, Harrison Whitwood, Flyn Landberg and Mariam Akhtar, all five; (left) Sheriff Mark Shaw, deputy cabinet member for transport posts a wanted notice for school crossing patrollers