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Lollipop plea: Leicestershire pupils - tell us why your crossing patrol officer is the best!


They might not be the favourite people of a few ill-mannered motorists, but lollipop men and women are best friends to the thousands of schoolchildren they keep safe every day.

The Mercury is asking pupils, teachers and parents at schools across the city and county to tell us why their crossing patrol officer is the bees' knees.

The call follows an article we ran last week in which 73-year-old great granddad Bob Pole spoke about the abuse he often received from rude and impatient drivers outside St Thomas More School, in Knighton, Leicester.

Bharti Manji has been a huge hit at Taylor Road Primary School, on the city's St Matthew's estate, since her appointment two years ago.

Brother and sister Amani and Zakariya Dagia, and siblings Saamia and Saahil Khalifa, explained why they were so fond of the lollipop lady they respectfully call "Miss".

"I think she's really nice," said Amani, nine. "If you're crossing the road and are only half-way across, she waits for you to get safely to the other side. She's very patient and always gives you a big smile."

Saamia, eight, said: "Miss is very helpful. She tries to remember all our names and it's nice to see her every morning."

Zakariya, seven, said: "When I cross the road I say, 'thank you Miss', and she says, 'you are welcome'.

"She's a kind lady and always makes sure you are safe."

"Miss is very polite, even to drivers in a hurry," said Saahil, nine. "Everybody likes her."

For Mrs Manji, 54, the affection is mutual. "Seeing the children on their way to school every day gives me a lift," she said. "Their safety is my priority and I love coming to work every morning."

Chris Hassall, head teacher at the 625-pupil school, said: "Bharti is a fantastic asset to the school. She is 100 per cent reliable and is there every morning and afternoon looking after the children, come rain or shine. It's a very busy road at times, with large buses and lorries whipping around the corner. Most drivers are thoughtful, but she stands her ground when she has to, and always in a respectful way.

"The children and parents are all very fond of her and she deserves credit for the great job she does."

Youngsters at St John The Baptist C of E, and Holy Cross Catholic primary schools, both in Parsonwood Hill, Whitwick, are equally fond of their lollipop lady, Sandra Flamson.

St John's pupil Hannah Gidman, 10, said: "When I come to school with my mum and other children, she often gives us a challenge or activity to complete that day. She's so nice and friendly and tells funny jokes."

Jo Marlow, whose nine-year-old son Lucas attends St John's, said: "It's a very busy village, with a lot of traffic. Sandra does a wonderful job and is a lovely person."

St John's head Christine Killip said: "Sandra is one of those really fab people. She's friendly, helpful and I can't think of a time she's not been there helping the children cross the road safely."

Leicestershire County Council employs 120 crossing patrol officers, and Leicester City Council 44.

Councillor Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor for schools, said: "Our school crossing patrol people do a fantastic job, turning out in all weathers to keep our children safe and often going way beyond what the job requires. I would encourage all schools to share their stories and get their school crossing patrol officers the recognition they deserve."

To tell us all about your lollipop man or woman, call David Owen on 0116 222 4277 or e-mail:

davidowen@ leicestermercury.co.uk

Lollipop plea: Leicestershire pupils - tell us why your crossing patrol officer is the best!

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