SLIDESHOW - Retro: Salute to lollipop heroes

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They’re out in all weathers making sure youngsters get to school safely and lollipop ladies and men should be regarded as local heroes.

The pay’s pretty low, which is probably why the job of school crossing warden often attracts pensioners, yet most who don the safety gear and carry the big lollipop stick do their job with a smile and a cheery word.

Jen Brogan, Rotherham School Crossing Warden - 1991''Road Safety'Lollipop lady

Jen Brogan, Rotherham School Crossing Warden - 1991''Road Safety'Lollipop lady

Parents value their work highly, fighting campaigns when they have been threatened by cutbacks. In Sheffield there are 67 wardens and the longest-serving has done the job for 39 years.

This look at their work was prompted by a fight by parents at Anns Grove School in Heeley to get a replacement for warden Janice Clark. She has been moved to Bankwood Primary.

Of course, idiotic motorists do their best to make the job hazardous, which is why we needed school crossing patrols in the first place. Many, like Val Nethergate, who has patrolled Psalter Lane, have been hit by cars.

Back in 1974, Insp Brian Morton of Sheffield road safety department reported: “Wardens come in for a lot of abuse – peeping horns, gestures, revving engines and even motorists who drive through while stop signs are being displayed.”

That year Pat Mellor in Chesterfield complained that she was getting abuse from pupils of a secondary school on her patch who kicked, swore and spat at her.

In Handsworth, mum Brenda Taylor won her fight to get a warden at the junction of the Parkway and Handsworth Road after setting up an unofficial patrol, with a hand-painted sign.

In 1998 The Star ran a successful campaign to ensure that crossing wardens could work on past 65.

In recent months the paper joined with schools and police to emphasise zero tolerance of parents parking on zigzag lines to drop off kids.

When it comes to getting the road safety message across to children, a variety of cute characters have been used.

Everyone in their 50s remembers Tufty. Other ideas were even more off the wall than listening to a red squirrel and his friends.

A policeman invented Kerb Drill Kate, a doll that went through the correct way to cross the road.

Sheffield schools in the 1970s were visited by Bertie Beacon, a Belisha beacon dressed up as a toff.

And today many children would be scared out of their wits by Captain Caution, a sinister-looking ventriloquist’s dummy used in 1968.

At least the Green Cross Code Man looked friendlier!