‘Lollipop lady’ ends 32-year service

AFTER 32 years of early morning rises, Caringbah Public School’s much loved ‘‘lollipop lady’’ has hung up the fluoro vest.

Quite a run considering the job was supposed to be only temporary.

Clare Ayers, 81, has retired as the school’s crossing supervisor.

‘‘I’ve told the children my legs are past their use-by-date,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve helped them cross, and their parents cross when they were kids.’’

She described the early days on the job like an ‘‘initiation’’.

‘‘I once saw a little girl, about two, sitting in the middle of the road. No one knew who she was or where she came from.

‘‘Turns out she lived two streets up, and she’d wandered over.

‘‘I remember also a lady nearly had a baby on my crossing. The ambulance came just in time.

‘‘Any time after that when I saw pregnant ladies about to cross, I thought, ‘oh no’.’’

Ms Ayers said she enjoyed ‘‘every minute’’ of holding up the stick. ‘‘It’s very important for schools to have crossing supervisors,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a very busy road. I’ve had to pull up a few mothers as they gasbag and don’t look at their little ones.

‘‘Over the years I’ve almost had heart attacks seeing some of them tearing out on the road.

‘‘But the children are a lovely, well-mannered lot.

‘‘I’ve been widowed twice, and my grandchildren aren’t nearby … I get a bit upset thinking about it.

‘‘But I’m looking forward to an extra hour in bed.’’

Principal Marcia Vallance said the school would miss Ms Ayer’s smile and friendly greeting.

‘‘Clare has been a integeral part of our school,’’ she said.

‘‘She has always been delightful and caring to the children and community, and always ensured the safety of our students, their families, visitors and staff.’

End of the road: Clare Ayers says goodbye to Jack Wilson, Charlotte Mackenzie and Rachael Stanley-Jones. Picture: Anna Warr

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