Skip to main content

No plans for Carole to slow down after 43 years as school crossing patrol

18 May 2022

Just as a broken clock is correct twice a day, parents in St Neots can turn up on the school run morning and afternoon knowing that Carole Hayes will be there – like clockwork.

Carole recently marked 43 years as a school crossing patrol and on Tuesday celebrated her 80th birthday, where her colleagues at Cambridgeshire County Council handed over some flowers. And despite recently being diagnosed with arthritis in her right hand she has no plans to slow down anytime soon – although she wishes some of the drivers on Longsands Road would do so!

Carole helps children to cross to and from Priory Junior School and Longsands Academy whatever the weather, a role which continues to give her immense satisfaction and comfort despite it becoming more difficult in recent times.

“It gets me up in the morning and meeting people,” she said. “I don’t like being on my own, especially winter time.

“A lot of the parents are very nice. I had a lady give me a card, chocolates and pair of earrings when I’d done 43 years. She said I’d been amazing getting her children across safely. Most of the parents seem to appreciate me.

“Children sometimes give me cards at Christmas time and parents a bunch of flowers at special times of the year.”

Carole has crossed nearly one million children to and from school having begun the role on 19 March, 1979 thanks to a suggestion from her husband Albert who sadly passed away a few years ago.

“My girls both went to the junior school,” she said. “The school needed a lollipop lady and my husband said ‘why not give it a go, Carole?’ I’ve stuck at it ever since.”

The undoubted highlight of Carole’s long service was when she was nominated as an ‘unsung hero’ in Chat Magazine back in 1995 by her youngest daughter which led to a surprise celebrity appearance.

“She explained I’d be doing this for so many years and always smiled and I came second in the competition. I didn’t know any of this.

“One day I looked up and said ‘oh my goodness it’s Jeremy Beadle, what are you doing here?’ He opened a box of chocolates and inside was a cheque for £150. I said ‘that’s amazing’. He was so nice in real life.”

As for the future, parents can be reassured that Carole has no plans to put the breaks on until she feels unable to continue in the role.

“I’ll keep going as long as my legs keep me going. I just find it very pleasant,” she added.

“I have trouble with the first two fingers on my right hand. They said it’s arthritis and I have no feeling, but I’ll keep going while I can.”

Cllr Neil Shailer, vice-chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee, said: “I’ve been really touched by Carole’s story. Her dedication to keeping children safe is an inspiration and I know she is a highly valued member of the community. I wish her a very happy 80th birthday and hope to see her on Longsands Road for many years to come!”