Shock redundancy for Dagenham lollipop lady after 45 years in service
PUBLISHED: 15:01 28 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:01 28 March 2017
A lollipop lady who has helped generations of children make their way safely to school will be laying down her sign after a shock redundancy.
On Friday, Patricia Grassi will spend her last day of work at the traffic lights junction of High Road and Whalebone Lane North in Chadwell Heath where she has helped students from three schools cross for 45 years.
The 77-year-old is one of 21 patrols in the borough to lose their jobs as the £165,000 service finally ends this week.
“All the lollipop patrols are so upset at the fact that they are having to go now,” admitted Patricia, who said she was “gobsmacked” to hear of her redundancy through the Post rather than her employers at Barking and Dagenham Council.
The grandma-of-two started in 1971 and has worked ever since as the crossing patrol for The Warren School, Warren Junior School as well as Furze Children’s Centre.
The Burlington Gardens, Chadwell Heath resident recalls working first as an employee of the Metropolitan Police when police used to deliver pay in an envelope every week, and continued after the council took over the service in 2000.
“There’s non-stop traffic, we need someone out there,” she said.
“I’m very concerned, I’m just hoping that there’s not an accident and that the children are sensible.”
The lollipop stalwart, whose husband Derek died ten years ago, said she could have continued to work for “at least another five years”.
“It’s a lovely job, you get to know everybody, and the children are so friendly,” she said. “I’ve never taken much it’s a job I know I have to be there for the safety of the children, it’s very important.”
Though there are traffic lights at the junction, Patricia often has to guard the road longer than the lights, while a lot of cars drive through the lights when she’s not there.
“They should find the money from somewhere,” she said. “The roads in Barking and Dagenham are so busy. We only work ten hours a week so it’s worth their money.
“It’s so sad, I’ve spent most of my life doing it,” she added. “I don’t know what I’ll do now.”
Despite the council mooting a volunteer-run service, Patricia has not been approached.
“I would definitely continue volunteering,” she said. “The idea of not working will be hard.”
A council spokesman commented: “The service will cease on March 31 and we would still accept expressions of interest from businesses, schools and other individuals who are willing to help.”
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