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

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

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”

Con­tribu

pa THREE’S AL­LOWED: Lol­lipop Avery

Con­trib­uted

GEN­ER­A­TION GAME: Irene Warne with grand­daugh­ter Stacey and great-grand­son Caleb

Photo by Toby Van de Velde www.buyapho­totms.co.uk/ Con­trib­uted NL20136795

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

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