A school crossing patroller is celebrating 40 years of service in West Wycombe.
Christine Walker has been making sure children can cross the road safely in West Wycombe for 40 years. According to Buckinghamshire County Council the length of service is a record.
On Monday 19th February 2018 the children of West Wycombe Combined School celebrated Christine’s service to the community with a special assembly at the village school.
Helping her to celebrate were around 50 former pupils, spanning Christine’s 40 years as school crossing patroller, who turned up as she came on shift at 8.15am to ask her to see them across the busy road one more time.
They had all responded to a social media post by West Wycombe mother Susie Chester, a pupil form 1989 to 1996, who used to cross the road with Christine’s help.
‘Forty years keeping children safe is an anniversary we just couldn’t miss!‘ said Susie.
Among the grown-ups was grandmother Phyl Stallwood whose three grandchildren Christine is now seeing across the road.
At a special assembly attended by former Head Mick Cusden, current Head Abi Preston presented Christine with gifts from parents and while two Year 6 pupils presented her with flowers. There were also flowers from Sir Edward Dashwood Bt, of West Wycombe Estate.
Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member, thanked Christine for her long service to three generations of children, and presented her with a bouquet.
‘Christine’s service is a remarkable achievement,‘ said Mark. ‘I’m deeply indebted to her for caring so much about the safety of West Wycombe’s children for so many years, and I’m sure the village joins me in thanking her.‘
Christine’s 40 years will be celebrated again later in the Spring of 2018 when she attends a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.
When Christine turned up for duty for the first time on 18th February 1978 there was no formal training apart from the guiding hand of a duty policeman and the watchful eye of the headmaster.
Her first week was almost her last due to a dramatic brush with a motorbike. ‘I was stopping the traffic when one of the mums shouted at me to ‘jump!’,‘ said Christine. ‘I just missed being run over by a motorbike!‘
Christine’s abiding memories are of warm, friendly villagers who wave to her from their cars, children who bring her Easter eggs and gifts at Christmas. ‘These are the little things that make you feel so appreciated,‘ she said.
In the weeks before Christmas, Christine writes cards for all the children she sees across the road and brings a basket of sweets to distribute.
But some memories she’d like to forget. ‘Sometimes I get missiles thrown at me – coins, biscuits, and other things, but you just have to take these things in your stride,‘ she said.
‘I do the job because it’s about keeping children safe on our busy roads,‘ said Christine. ‘I love meeting interesting people, and over the years I’ve developed friendships in the village. I still keep in touch by letter with some of those who’ve moved away.‘
Retirement couldn’t be further from Christine’s mind. Having taken over four decades ago from her mother-in-law, Olive Walker, who was the village patroller for more than 10 years, she’s determined to continue serving West Wycombe for many years to come.