Celebrity mum Jade Goody took time out from motherhood yesterday, to honour some of the nation’s best-loved unsung heroes at the grand final of the Golden Jubilee Lollipop Person contest, backed by Hyundai Car (UK) Ltd.
The Big Brother favourite, who has a two month old son, Bobby Jack, attended a glamorous ceremony at London’s five-star Savoy Hotel to announce the winner of the competition, which celebrates 50 years of the school crossing patrol service.
Chosen from a shortlist of 11 male and female finalists from throughout the country, the successful candidate was named as 63-year-old Mrs Irene Reid, lollipop lady for Longridge Primary School near Preston, Lancashire.
Irene will receive a brand new Hyundai Getz, the manufacturer’s award-winning super-mini, as well as picking up the title of official Golden Jubilee Lollipop Person.
Hyundai asked people across the country to nominate the person who they thought was the UK’s most deserving lollipop person. Irene was selected from hundreds of entries after her exemplary service impressed judges from LARSOA*, the association responsible for school crossing patrols.
Now in her 35th year of ‘lollipopping’, Irene has not had a day off sick since she began in 1969. Other nominations celebrated her cheery smile, come rain or shine, her compassionate ear and her ability to tell ‘a mean joke!’
Irene said: "It’s been the most fantastic day of my life. I can’t believe I won this award, especially when you think of all the fantastic lollipop people out there.
"It’s a fantastic job and I wouldn’t change what I do for the world. I love working with all the kids and there’s not a day when I think otherwise. I want to keep going for as long as possible – they’ll probably have to wrestle my lollipop from me one day!"
Jade Goody said: "All lollipop people do a fantastic job to keep the roads safe for our children, so this is just a way of saying thank you for all their hard work. When Bobby Jack grows up and goes to school, I hope that he will be looked after by someone as caring and committed as the lollipop people here today."
Penny Sczcepaniak, PR Manager for Hyundai adds: "Choosing the winner from hundreds of deserving nominations was a near impossible task, as every patrol does such a remarkable job, often in difficult conditions. In the present climate with increased traffic and parents’ concerns about road safety, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit lollipop people. This initiative was designed to celebrate lollipop people everywhere, and we hope that this has given them a little of the recognition they deserve."Published 19 August 2003