A much-loved lollipop lady was inundated with cards and presents after patrolling a Broadwater crossing for the last time on Friday.
Parents and pupils gathered on Broadwater Green to bid an emotional farewell to Dana Gardiner, who has been South Farm Road’s lollipop lady for 22 years.
The 65-year-old, who was showered with handmade cards, given a personalised ceramic plate and greeted with a ‘thank you’ banner signed by hundreds, said: “I’m so overwhelmed, it’s amazing. I’m in shock.
“It’s been such a privilege for me to have this job.
“We’ve had such happy, laughing times together. They’ve been there for me through good times and hard times, and they are my friends.”
Dana, who said she has only had one week off work in 22 years, was until recently also a dinner lady at Broadwater Primary School.
She said she is retiring to help look after her grandchildren, of which she is soon to have three.
Dana, who won this newspaper’s Herald Award for Special Achievement in 2016, said the best part of her job had been talking to people about their lives, adding: “I’m going to miss it so much.”
Heidi Caisley, whose children attend Broadwater Primary School and who helped organise the farewell party on Friday, said of Dana: “She knows every kid inside out. She looks out for everyone, she’s absolutely excellent.
“She doesn’t realise what she does for people. She doesn’t like to make a fuss, for her it’s just her job. We are really going to miss her.”
Julie Holt, assistant coordinator of school crossing patrols at the West Sussex County Council, said: “She knows everybody’s names, all the parents too, and there’s nearly 500 kids at the school.
“She’s amazing, she’s always so friendly and helpful.”
A new school crossing patrol is now being sought for the site, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk for more details on how to apply.