By Niamh Shackleton
A devoted lollipop lady has helped over 1 million children cross the road thanks to her impressive 40 year career.
Carole Hays, 76, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, has been helping people cross the road for four decades outside Priory Park Juniors, Priory Park Infants and Longsands Academy.
It’s believed Carole has helped approximately 1.2 million children safely cross over the extremely busy road and is the longest serving School Crossing Patroller (SCP) in the eastern region.
Carole says she’s extremely proud of her career so far and has no intentions of retiring anytime soon.
The grandmother-of-two said: “It feels really good to celebrate 40 years in the role, I never expected to stay this long but times just flew by because I enjoy what I do.
“I help parents across the road with their children that were once children at the schools themselves – I don’t always recognise them, but they often recognise me.
“I usually work five days a week, but on the odd occasion where I’m not here, people always comment on how they missed me when I get back.
“Sometimes I bump into people in town who I used to help cross the road – it’s always nice to see familiar faces.”
Carole’s build quite a rapport with the students she helps and often hands out Christmas cards to all the children, as well as receiving many herself.
She added: “I really enjoy my job – especially when the suns out as all the children are happier.
“The school kindly put on an assembly for me to celebrate my 40 years as a lollipop lady and gave me flowers, and the council gave me a retail voucher too.
“I might be 76, but I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”
Carole’s husband, Albert, 82, was part of the Parent, Teacher’s Association when the original vacancy came up, and he flagged it to his wife who wasn’t working at the time.
The mother of Vanessa, 51, and Amanda, 49, had never been a lollipop lady before, decided to give it a go and has accumulated 40 years worth of memories on the job.
But one memory stands out the most for Carole, she said: “I was working one day when the school asked me to pop over to the office when I finished.
“I did so, then someone asked me if I wanted to go outside for a picture, which I was very confused about.
“When I went outside I saw Jeremy Beadle stood there and I got the shock of my life!
“It turns out one of my daughter, Amanda, had nominated me for a weekly magazine’s ‘Unsung Heros’ competition and I’d come in second place.”
Following the surprising visit from TV’s late Jeremy Beadle, Carole received a £500 cheque for her hard work and dedication to her job.