Lollipop lady, 83, celebrates 50 years in the job

Hazel Davies with celebration balloons outside school
Hazel Davies has been a lollipop lady in Cardiff for 50 years and admits "it's surprising how quickly the time has gone". [Pentyrch Primary School]

An 83-year-old lollipop lady who has been doing her job for 50 years has said she has no plans to hang up her stop sign any time soon.

Hazel Davies has been working at Cardiff's Pentyrch Primary School for the past 27 years,and was at Ton Yr Ywen Primary School in the Heath area of the city before that.

In 2015, she was awarded the British Empire Medal for her crossing patrol services and has become renowned in her community for her "safe journey home" motto.

"Every day puts a smile on your face," she said.

Mrs Davies first applied for the job when she had four young children and saw the role advertised in a local newspaper.

"I said I would do it temporarily. I got the job and I’ve been there ever since."

She said her passion for the role grew as she realised the difference effective crossing patrol could make.

"You’ve got to realise you’re there for the safety of the children and the children are your priority," she said.

Over the years, she has seen the huge increase in the number of cars on the roads.

"The vehicles got heavier and faster and more of them and I realised how dangerous it was for children to go to school.

"Parents depend on me to get their children across the road safely. Children are precious, you can’t buy them in the supermarket. So you look after them."

Despite her years of experience, she said her pleas to parents not to cross between parked cars often fell on deaf ears.

"Children don’t walk anywhere anymore, village children are all driven everywhere so it’s a challenge to teach them road safety."

Hazel and John Davies
Hazel Davies inspired her husband John to become a lollipop man - and they have a collective 84 years of service [Pentyrch Primary School]

Chatty children can be another challenge, "especially when you’re in the middle of the road and they want to tell you about their day".

But Mrs Davies loves hearing their stories, adding: "Every day is a memory. It’s rewarding, really, to see the children from pushchair to primary school."

Mrs Davies has "no plans at all" to stop working just yet.

“What am I going to do if I retire? You can only do so much housework. It’s better to go out in the fresh air and do something worthwhile."

She has four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, further fuelling her passion for the safety of families in the area.

She inspired her daughter to become a lollipop lady for a while and when her husband John retired from the gas board, he became a lollipop man in nearby Creigiau, where he has been working for the past 34 years.

“And he’s still learning,” she joked.

On Monday, the school held a celebration ceremony to honour Mrs Davies’s service, and parents came together to arrange a present and cake.

Lucy O'Leary with Hazel Davies and the cake
Lucy O'Leary and other parents arranged a personalised cake and present for Mrs Davies [Pentyrch Primary School]

Parent and Teacher Association chairwoman Lucy O’Leary, 40, went to Pentyrch Primary School herself and has three sons who have all gone there too.

"We decided as parents that we wanted to do a collection for Hazel to show our appreciation for all she does to keep our children safe,” she said.

"She is there day in, day out, in all weathers... She learns all the children's names and greets them personally every morning. The school really wouldn't be the same without her."

The school also arranged a special assembly, which Mrs Davies said was "fantastic".

"The children were so good. I was overwhelmed,” she said.

She said it was a shame to see the popularity of the job falling and urged anyone who was considering it to give it a go.

Hazel Davies with pupil Megan and a card
Pupil Megan presented Mrs Davies with a card on behalf of the students [Pentyrch Primary School]

Sarah Coombes, executive head teacher, described Mrs Davies as an "integral part of the Pentyrch school community".

"We would all like to congratulate her on this remarkable achievement," she said.

"Hazel has given her life in service to the families of Cardiff schools. The school community is hugely grateful to her for her dedication and commitment as she celebrates her special day."

Cardiff council called Hazel "a very respected character in the community and her dedication and commitment have been unwavering".