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Pupils say fond farewell to lollipop lady 12 July 2012

LOLLIPOP lady Sylvia Beynon has been helping children to cross the road outside Andreas Primary School for 32 years.

Boys and girls she first saw across the road are now parents themselves and she’s guiding their children to safety. Sylvia Beynon retires

Staff and pupils at the school said a fond farewell to Mrs Beynon today when they presented her with gifts and flowers to mark her retirement at a sprightly 70.

In a special afternoon, laid on as a surprise, the pupils also sang songs and conducted an interview with her. Mrs Beynon became Andreas’s first and, to date, only lollipop lady in 1980. At that time, school crossing patrol staff were employed by the Police.

So many children went home for lunch in those days that her duties extended to the middle of the day, too. When numbers tailed off around eight years ago, meaning she was only required at the start and end of the school day, she became a dinner lady at lunchtimes instead.

Mrs Beynon said drivers had been courteous to her through her 32 years and, despite an increase in traffic on the roads, there had been no deterioration in driving standards.

Drivers of lorries heading for sites in the north took care to avoid passing the school during peak times.

Special memories include a day which started fair but turned to torrential rain, leaving water a foot deep outside the school. Then head Ken Quane carried the children, who were wearing summer footwear, across the road one by one.

To mark her 25 years as school lollipop lady, Sylvia was driven around the village in a 1902, steam-powered car. The plan was to end the journey in the playground, but the car ran out of steam just before reaching its destination.

Sylvia can also be seen in the foreground of a photograph of a traction engine being driven past the school by the son of legendary steeplejack and mechanical engineer Fred Dibnah.

Mrs Beynon has been an active member of the Friends of Andreas and Bride Schools for many years. She’ll stand down from all her roles, leaving a big gap at the school, but will have plenty to keep her occupied as she’s secretary to Andreas WI, regularly wins prizes for her floral displays and takes care of a menagerie of cats, ducks and a 14-year-old goose called Paxo at her Andreas home.

Widowed some time ago, Mrs Beynon has two sons, Steven, who initially followed his father John as a shipwright but now works as a kitchen fitter, and Les, who works at Poortown quarry. She has four granddaughters, too.

Present at today’s gathering were Bronwen Udy, Andreas School’s Headteacher, Richard Pearson, Director of Highways with the Department of Infrastructure, Sylvia’s employer, and Martin Barrow, Director of Education and a former head at Andreas.

Describing Sylvia as a ‘real star’, Mrs Udy said:

‘I feel very honoured to have worked with Sylvia. Not only do have we had an effective lollipop lady of 32 years’ standing, but also a very reliable lunchtime lady. Every morning and afternoon, as regular as clockwork, she walks up the corridor on her way out to the crossing: a vivid picture in fluorescent yellow with a very dangerous-looking lollipop! She will be missed around school. That is certain.’ Sylvia Beynon

Mr Pearson said:

‘Sylvia commenced her duties on 8th of September 1980. During this time there have been many Directors of Highways, six Road Safety Managers but only one School Crossing Patrol Officer at Andreas and she has safely crossed children over whatever the weather and is still as conscientious today as she was on her first day. Her incredible record can best be summed up as her not just wanting to do the job but wanting to do the job well every day. When she walks into the road with her lollipop stick for the last time after 32 years' service she can look back with pride at the number of children she has safely crossed. It is a remarkable record and the Road Safety Team past and present wish her a long, happy and well earned retirement.’

Mr Barrow commented:

‘Generations of pupils and staff from Andreas School have much to thank Sylvia for. She has always been willing to go the extra mile for the children. Whether accompanying school trips, knitting cuddly toys to raffle or baking scones to keep the staff well fed and in a good mood – if it benefited the children in any way, Sylvia was always the first to offer her services. I am sure everyone associated with the school would join me in wishing Sylvia a long, healthy, well-earned and enjoyable retirement.’

It has been a month of celebrations for Mrs Beynon as, to mark her retirement, she was asked to present the prizes to the infants at Andreas and Bride Schools’ end-of-term prize presentation on 11th July.

Mrs Beynon is pictured on duty and (today) surrounded by pupils, all her gifts and cards and, from left: Mr Pearson; Emma Cleator, Friends of Andreas and Bride Schools; Mr Nelson; Mr Barrow; Cath Kelly and Gordon Edwards, from the DoI’s Road Safety Unit, Constable Steve Grainger; Dorothy Sayle, Captain of the Parish

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