Two long serving school crossing patrol people from Westlea Primary School were amongst a group invited to take tea with the Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin at the end of July to mark the national sixtieth anniversary of the service.
Whilst some local authorities have disbanded their crossing patrol service Swindon Council has retained it as an important way of reducing road casualties.
Although the uniform and sign have changed to meet modern standards – and patrols can now stop traffic to cross any pedestrian, adult or child – the role is essentially the same today as it was 60 years ago.
At that time around 90 per cent of children walked to school unaccompanied. Now many parents bring children to school in cars, but the aim is to persuade them to walk for health reasons and to reduce traffic danger outside schools.
John Hodges was the crossing patrol man on Westlea Drive from 1993 to 2008. When he had to give up on health grounds, his partner Sylvie Dundas took over the yellow jacket and lollipop stick. “I knew the job and nobody else would take it on,” she said. “Langstone Way outside the school is a 20mph zone; I’d like to see it extended to Westlea Drive. It’s still too fast even with humps and me stopping traffic to let people cross.
“It’s a very friendly job, everybody says good-morning. Most of the drivers are OK but sometimes I have to make my presence felt.”
The Mayor of Swindon Cllr Nick Martin with John and Sylvie. Below, the Mayor with more of Swindon’s lollipop people.