Mattishall Lollipop lady says an emotional farewell after 28 years

Lollypop Lady Margaret Mann is retiring after 35 years Mattishall Primary School. Picture: Matthew U

Lollypop Lady Margaret Mann is retiring after 35 years Mattishall Primary School. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A lollipop lady who shepherded generations of youngsters to school in her village has said an emotional farewell after retiring after 28 years.

Margaret Mann has been a cleaning lady, caretaker and dinner lady since joining at Mattishall First School, near Dereham, in 1978.

Despite gradually shedding those roles she remained at her post helping pupils across Dereham Road twice a day, until finally deciding to lay down her lollipop at Easter to spend more time with her family and travel.

Explaining why she had remained for so long, she said: 'It's the people.

'It's a nice job. I don't call it work. I'm doing something I like. I never thought 'Here we go again'. I did not come here to be miserable. I came up here to enjoy the kids. If you are miserable it rubs off on the kids.'

She said her Garvestone farm upbringing was training for standing outside whatever the weather.

She said her philosophy was to try not to hold up motorists or children too long, especially as she knew drivers on the road just before school opens are probably running late for work.

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She said that Mattishall, where she has lived since she got married, had grown enormously over the years, and the road was getting busier and busier, especially when traffic is diverted through the village when there are accidents on the A47.

Mrs Mann said she still recognises, and is recognised by, villagers she helped to cross the road decades ago.

She said: 'They are bringing their children now. The last week or two that they have known I was leaving they are saying 'You were here when I was here' and I really thought 'I need to be leaving before there's a third generation'.'

Morgan Dorrell, 10, said: 'I'm very sad because she's very nice and always says hello. She is very happy.

'Because I don't like getting up in the morning, when I walk to school she makes me feel better about going to school.'

Billy Wright, nine, said: 'She smiles when you cross the road. I think it's quite a hard job. It must be frightening as well when a car does not see her. I don't want to do that job. I think it might be a bit scary for me.'

Mattishall Primary School headteacher Tony Chapman said staff were shocked when Mrs Mann announced she would finally leave her last position in the school.

He said: 'We are really sad about her moving on. I know she found it a really hard decision to make and she had given a lot of thought to it.

'The thing with Margaret is that even though society has changed, Margaret still has that respect from families and children. That has been instilled and has been continued.'