SCHOOLCHILDREN in Whitnash can now safely cross the street thanks to their new lollipop man.
Mums Amy Ashby and Anne Buttrum set up an online petition in June last year urging county council chiefs to provide a new school crossing patrol for the busy Landor Road.
They argued there was no suitable place where youngsters walking up Ashford Road from Warwick Gates towards St Joseph’s, St Margaret’s and Briar Hill schools could cross.
And with the junction becoming even busier during the school run, they said a new crossing would not only help parents and children get to school safely but also reassure parents their children could walk or cycle to school on their own.
The petition gained more than 1,600 signatures and council chiefs were persuaded to employ a lollipop person.
Leaflets advertising the vacancy were posted around the area in June of this year and less than a month later, Warwick resident George Hamilton put himself forward for the role, which he began two weeks ago.
He said: “I absolutely love it – I wish I’d done it years ago. The kids are smashing and so polite, they always say thank you, it’s really nice.”
The 72-year-old, who came out of retirement to take up the post, has been stunned by everyone’s friendliness with many neighbours inviting him in for a cup of tea – an offer he is yet to take up but says he may consider in when the winter comes.
Parents of St Joseph’s School continue to operate a walking bus – where two or three parents walk a group of children to school from Warwick Gates – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.
But petition founder Amy said parents now have more peace of mind knowing George was there to help them and their children cross the road safely.
She told The Observer: “Anne and I are delighted to see the new lollipop crossing up and running as it makes the route to the schools in Whitnash far safer.
“When we started our campaign our boys Sam and Ethan were in year 5 and were desperate to walk to school independently.
“They didn’t need to be nagged to get up earlier or persuaded by the health benefits, they just needed a safe route.”
She added: “Throughout the process, Warwickshire County Council has often reminded us this is a use-it-or-lose-it service, so I hope our success will encourage parents in other areas to start their own campaign.
“We had great support from the schools and the public got behind our petition, which really raised the profile of the demand for this service.
“I hope the council will continue to support lollipop crossings in future and will look very closely at plans for road crossing facilities when new housing developments and schools are built.”