Provided by Road Safety GB, the badges and certificates have been distributed to School Crossing Patrols (SCPs) by the county council as part of nationwide celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the service.
SCPs have been helping children cross the road safely since the service was officially created by the School Crossing Patrol Act in 1953. The first official patrol started work in 1954.
There are patrols at 28 schools across East Sussex including in Battle, Eastbourne, Hastings, Robertsbridge, Rye, Uckfield and Wadhurst.
Ann Martin and Pat Brabon have 90 years of patrol experience between them.
Ann has been the lollipop lady outside Mayfield Primary School for 46 years. She said: “The best thing about the job is keeping the children safe. I’m a chatty, friendly person and enjoy speaking to the parents and children every day.”
Ann attended Mayfield school herself, as did her late husband, her children and her granddaughter. She has lived locally all her life and says things have changed since she first started the job.
“There’s much more traffic now and people drive much faster. Sometimes they don’t want to stop until I show them my sign and remind them they are supposed to stop.”
With their distinctive round ‘lollipop’ sign, School Crossing Patrols have the authority to stop traffic and although their role was originally to help children across the road, patrols can stop traffic to cross any pedestrian, adult or child, safely.
Pat started as Northiam’s lollipop lady in 1979 and has been helping children safely cross the road outside the village primary school for 44 years.
Pat said: “I enjoy being part of the school community and I love seeing the children every day. It is a big commitment, being outside the school gates twice a day in all weathers, but the children and parents rely on me and over the years I’ve got used to the weather!”
She is known around the village as ‘Lolly’ after a little boy announced one morning 42 years ago that he didn’t want to go to school but wanted to ‘watch Lolly crossing the children over the road’. Pat remembered: “He said he’d rather watch me than go to school!”
Every September Pat visits the new Reception class to introduce herself to the children and remind them about road safety, and often sees the children and grandchildren of pupils she helped across the road when they attended the school.
Ann feels it is quite an achievement that the service is celebrating 70 years of helping children to school safely, saying it’s marvellous that the service is still going.
Cllr Claire Dowling, lead member for transport and environment at East Sussex County Council, said: “It’s wonderful that we have been able to acknowledge 70 years of the School Crossing Patrol service.
“Our patrol officers do a fantastic job helping local school children cross the road safely. They are out in all weathers and are always smiling and cheerful.
“I would like to thank them for their dedication to our school communities, and we look forward to many more years of the service.”
The idea for SCPs came in the late 1940s when two of the newly created road safety officers in the London Boroughs of Dagenham and Barking, Jock Brining and Dorothy Pummell, recognised a growing problem with the safety of child pedestrians given the increasing volume of traffic on roads.
At that time most children walked to school unaccompanied and Jock had the idea of ‘official’ adults to help children on their way to school at points where traffic was at its worst.
Jock and Dorothy persuaded their councils to agree to the idea and went on to employ ‘active retired gentlemen’ as ‘traffic wardens’.
The idea proved very popular and soon spread to other London boroughs, and as more wardens were appointed the Met Police took over responsibility for the new service.
The nationwide SCP service was born when the Government recognised the value of having a service that crossed children at busy and difficult locations and passed the School Crossing Patrol Act in the early 1950s.
For more information on joining the School Crossing Patrol service in East Sussex visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/roads-transport/roads/road-safety/school-crossing-patrols