Honours for Sheffield crossing wardens driven to keep children safe

Lollipop man and wife team Pat and Jim Heathcote, aged 69 and 72, of Stocksbridge.
Lollipop man and wife team Pat and Jim Heathcote, aged 69 and 72, of Stocksbridge.
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It’s definitely love, not lolly which keeps school crossing wardens in the job.

Husband and wife duo Pat and James Heathcote are celebrating their second year helping youngsters in Sheffield make their way to school safely.

And as the nation celebrates this week’s diamond jubilee of the lollipop man and woman, the pair say they are in no hurry to hang up their sticks and hats.

Retired steelworker James, aged 72, has spent 15 years guiding pupils of Stocksbridge Junior School across the road every morning and afternoon.

And Pat, 68, a former dinner lady, jumped at the chance to join her other half at work serving Stocksbridge Infants and Nursery nearby.

James said: “I really enjoy it, I’m loath to pack it up. It keeps me going helping the children.

“I can remember that school when it was first being built. You watch all the children grow up.

“When the man who did the infants quit I mentioned it to Pat and she said she fancied it.

“There’s still 400 yards between us - so we’re not right next to one another.”

On a typical day, kind husband James sets off early to put cones out for his wife at her patch before heading up to his own station.

When they’ve finished their morning’s work the grandmother and grandfather meet up and head back to their home in Hole House Lane and tuck into breakfast.

“We both enjoy being around the children and chatting to them, our son and three grandchildren live in Wombwell and they’re growing up now so it’s nice,” added James.

Certificates will be dished out to Pat, James and other school crossing patrol wardens in Sheffield as part of the 60-year anniversary of the first lollipop men and women.

The idea for the role came in the 1940s, when two newly-created road safety officers in London boroughs - Jock Brining and Dorothy Pummell - recognised a growing problem with the safety of children.

Shirley Adams, school crossing supervisor for Sheffield Council, said: “School crossing wardens aren’t paid a huge salary and they do such a fantastic job. We want to honour them.”