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Donna Thorpe lollipop lady TYOK
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a lollipop lady

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…according to Donna Thorpe, 48.

Working on the street lets you see London at its best

In my job outside a school in Stoke Newington, I get a proper taste of community – something that isn’t always easy to find in a big city. I get locals coming to use my crossing just because they want a chat. You come to know the kids’ birthdays, and in return you get the odd one saying “I love you” and giving you a box of chocolates.

There are plenty of lollipop gents, too

The first people ever to do this job were men, and the guys who do it in Hackney nowadays are fantastic. It’s a shame we don’t see more blokes doing it.

Lollipop people get stick sometimes

Reckless and abusive drivers are a real problem. Some people who do my job have even been taught self-defence moves. I hope we’ll one day see body-worn cameras for school crossing patrollers rolled out across London. That would make it easier to record the worst people’s number plates.

Cyclists seem to think that they’re above the law

Men on bikes are by far the most likely to speed dangerously over my crossing, but often parents at the school will shock you by doing the same thing in their cars. I’ve got the same powers to halt traffic as the police, but it sometimes feels like people will stop for anything except me. I’ve stood and watched as a pigeon walked across my crossing, and the cars waited for it. But when I’m trying to get human children across, some road users just plough on through regardless.

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