Monday, 15 August 2022

Crossing patrol man hangs up his ‘lollipop’

A “LOLLIPOP” man for Trinity Primary School in Henley has stepped down after seven years.

A “LOLLIPOP” man for Trinity Primary School in Henley has stepped down after seven years.

John West, 80, who was employed by Oxfordshire County Council, completed his last patrol on Friday.

He said: “I wish I wasn’t giving it up in a way but come the winter, in January and February, it will be quite cold and I think I’m getting a bit too old for it. It’s enjoyable in good weather but not when it’s pouring down your neck!

“I’ll miss the kids and mums but it had to end some time. I will lie in bed having my cup of tea, missing it very badly.

“I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and it has been well worth it. It’s something to do for the local community and I enjoy talking to the kids.

“If nothing else, it’s important to have a lollipop man teaching kids not to walk across the road without looking. Okay, they will get told by their mothers but I suppose you emphasise it because you’re in the road stopping the traffic.

“It saves parents time doing it themselves as well.”

Mr West, a retired aircraft engineer and personnel manager, who lives in Singers Close with his wife Alex, a psychology lecturer, was persuaded to take on the role by his granddaughters Emily and Olivia when they were pupils at the school.

“I think they said ‘it’s about time you did something and got off your backside’ or something similar!”

He joked that he agreed because the job would provide his “beer money”.

Mr West, who has lived in Henley for more than 30 years, became a familiar face at the junction of St Mark’s and Vicarage Road where he helped schoolchildren across the road twice a day in all weathers.

He said the majority of motorists were well behaved and that he’d only had “trouble” with two drivers, including a woman who clipped his arm coming down St Mark’s Road.

Mr West said: “I asked her ‘why did you run into my arm?’ and she said ‘I didn’t see you’!”

Headteacher Helen Jones said: “He is a symbol of this community. He has done the job superbly well and I don’t know what we’re going to do without him.

“Safety is such a big thing in schools and it’s people like John who actually volunteer themselves, put themselves forward, and our school and our community is a safer place as a result.”

“I know that he’s adored by the children and the parents have found him to be such a generous and kind man.” Sawinee Edwards, whose son Brandon attends Trinity primary, said: “It’s going to more dangerous without John here now. He has helped a lot of children and parents across the road. We’re going to miss him.”

Mr West was presented with a bunch of flowers, chocolates, £250 in John Lewis vouchers and a card signed by Trinity pupils at a service in Holy Trinity Church on Friday.

The collection was organised by Kate Holden, whose daughters Izzie, 10, and Amelie, seven, attend the school. Amelie did the drawing on the front of Mr West’s card.

Mrs Holden said: “He’s there every morning, every afternoon, come rain or shine. This is someone who has given up all this time and we’re very grateful.”

Mr West plans to spend more time with his seven grandchildren, three of whom live in Australia.

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