Retiring lollipop lady Val Blake with her family, from left, sister Mary Jones, Rebecca Blake, Hannah Blake, ten, Peter Blake, Brian Jones, Vernon Blake, David Stockley and Diane Stockley.
LOLLIPOP lady Val Blake is hanging up her hat after seeing schoolchildren safely across the road for more than 35 years — not a bad run considering she didn’t want the job.
"I didn’t think I’d last a week when I started. I only agreed to do it as a favour because they couldn’t get anyone else," said Val, 69, who has been manning the school crossing at Staplers Road, Newport, since 1978.
"It felt like so much responsibility and it was quite scary. They didn’t have the training they have these days. But I ended up staying."
Val has been such a long-standing fixture at the crossing, she has seen Barton, Summerfield and Medina pupils grow up and have children of their own.
"I have seen little ones become teenagers. I’ve seen brothers and sisters come along. Sometimes I knew their mum or dad when they were at school — I’ve seen quite a few families grow up," said Val, who lives at Manor Crescent, Newport, with husband, Vernon, 70.
"There are mums I will miss chatting to every day, and the children — who can be a bit cheeky but are lots of fun and very sweet, and no more badly behaved than they used to be — and the elderly people who go shopping every morning. It was a hard decision but I will be 70 soon and I wanted to enjoy my retirement. I want to spend more time gardening, sewing and drawing."
Last Friday, Val was presented with chocolates by Barton Primary School governor Peter Whiteman, flowers by IW Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Richard Priest and a thank you card from her granddaughter, Hannah.