Over the years, thousands of children across Buckinghamshire have enjoyed a safer journey walking to school, thanks predominantly, to the efforts of the county’s much loved school crossing patrollers who recently celebrated their 70th anniversary.
Buckinghamshire currently has around 50 school crossing patrollers, commonly known as lollipop men and women due to the iconic circular signs on poles they carry when on duty, working across all parts of the county. Every morning and evening during term time, come rain or shine, they are out, guiding children, parents and carers safely across the road to and from school.
Many of the current school crossing patrollers have been doing the job for years, enjoying the special role they play in their local communities. Between them they have totted up more than 500 years of service, helping multiple generations of families. Several now help the children of the children they first helped cross the road on their way to school and some of the longest servicing school crossing patrollers are guiding the grandchildren of the children they first helped.
To celebrate the 70 year milestone and to say thank you to all school crossing patrollers, past and present, Buckinghamshire Council hosted a special event in High Wycombe on Thursday 29th June 2023.
The national school crossing patrol service was officially created by the School Crossing Patrol Act in 1953. The first SCPs wore white coats and peaked hats. Over the years the clothing has changed to more weather-proof, hi-vis jackets and hats, but the popular lollipop signs have remained, relatively unchanged and become synonymous with the popular and much-loved image of school crossing patrollers countrywide.
Buckinghamshire’s school crossing patrollers collectively have many interesting and amusing tales to tell of their time in the job. One patroller in Buckingham recalls once guiding a horse and rider safely across the road amidst the schoolchildren. Another proudly relays how they lost three stone in weight when first starting in post, simply by all the walking he does on his patrol site.
Christine Walker is the county’s longest service patroller, clocking up 45 years. She received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2021 for her long service to road safety and has attended two Royal Garden Parties.
All the patrollers build up a unique relationship with local families. One school crossing patroller called Mario is affectionally known as Super Mario by the children who greet him fondly every day. One thing all the patrollers clearly have in common is their love of the job with all of them saying how rewarding they find the role.
Steven Broadbent, Cabinet Member for Transport at Buckinghamshire Council, said: ‘School crossing patrollers carry out such an important role, not simply in helping to guide children to and from school safely but also providing a friendly and welcoming face in their local community, year after year and promoting the benefits of active travel and road safety.
I believe their personalities and characters leave a lasting impression on every schoolchild that goes way beyond helping them to cross the road safely twice a day. I still have very fond memories of Mrs Robinson, my school crossing patroller when I was young.
Their work is invaluable, and they are all much loved by all the children and families they support. We are grateful to all our school crossing patrollers, past and present and thank them for the fantastic job they do in helping to keep children safe on their walk to school.‘
There are currently some vacancies for school crossing patrollers in the county. If you are interested in finding out more contact:
- South Bucks : Georgina Longley – 01494 586639
- North Bucks : Corrine Randall – 01296 383432
*Source of information : Press release from Buckinghamshire Council.