Two popular school crossing attendants have retired after giving 55 years of service between them to County Durham and its children.
Thora Muir, 74, has decided to hang up her florescent gear after 35 years in the job while Jim Armstrong, 80, is bowing out after 20 years’ service.
Thora spent 31 years shepherding the children of Cotsford Infant School, Horden, across the road before moving to Yohden Primary almost four years ago.
Jim was based at Seaview Primary School in Seaham. He started work there back in 1996 and became County Durham’s oldest serving school crossing patrol.
Special assemblies have been held at both Seaview and Yohden schools to thank the popular pair and wish them a happy retirement.
Pupils and teachers from Cotsford Nursery, Cotsford Infants and Yohden presented Thora with flowers, gifts and cards. She was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for her 35 years of service by Durham County Council’s road safety manager Paul Watson.
Three other crossing patrols were present at the ceremony along with Horden’s county councillor June Clark and a number of parents.
At Seaview, Jim was presented with photographs and messages from the pupils. A poem written by one pupil and dedicated to the lollipop man was read out.
Head teacher Karen Field presented Jim and his wife Kath with gifts including vouchers, flowers, and presents made by the pupils, including a book of memories and a school crossing patrol sign made from nursery children’s handprints.
Jim was also presented with a certificate by Mr Watson before the assembly finished with the children singing the Bruno Mars song Count on Me, which they dedicated to Jim.
Jim said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 20 years as a lollipop man. I’ve got to know so many children, parents and members of staff in this time and loved chatting to them all on a daily basis.”
“It’s a really difficult thing to retire, but I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone I’ve got to know over the years. I’ll really miss them all.”
Thora said, “The weather hasn’t always been great, but the smiles and hellos you get from the children and their mums and dads make it all worthwhile.”
“It was lovely to attend the assembly and very emotional to say goodbye to everyone.”
Alison Smith, head teacher at Yohden, said, “The children, staff and governors of Yohden Primary School wished Thora a very happy retirement after 35 years.”
“She has helped to keep children safe in all weathers and has volunteered at many school events over the years. We will all miss her.”
The retirement of Thora and Jim has led Durham County Council to appeal to people interested in becoming school crossing attendants to come forward.
John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said, “First and foremost, I’d like to thank Thora and Jim for their excellent service.”
“You only had to be at the assemblies to appreciate the affection in which they were held and how much they’ll be missed.”
“I think they’d both agree that being a lollipop man or woman is a highly rewarding job, with the bonds you build with children, teachers and parents long lasting.”
“We are always on the lookout for people who might like to become a school crossing patrol and I’d encourage anyone interested to contact us on 03000 268 175 for an informal chat.”