IT is 3pm - home time for the children at Hazlemere Junior School in Colchester.

They are all excited to be heading home, the sun is shining and they are itching to play in the garden or watch the TV.

But not before stopping to have a chat with a very special lady.

I approach the busy zebra crossing in Bromley Road, with children and families everywhere, and Sharon Wilson clocks me from the other side.

She steps out with a beaming smile, her giant lollipop in the air, and stops the traffic for me.

For Sharon, 65, this has been her job for 28 years.

She has been there through all weathers and greets parents and children with a cheery smile.

“My sister, Sharmayne, was a lollipop lady just around the corner,” she says before having to step out into the road again.

“I said I would like to give it a go and here I am 28 years later.

“I also work at the Student Union at Essex University, I’m a kitchen co-ordinator there.

“Thankfully I have two jobs which I love.”


Living just around the corner from the zebra crossing, in Hawthorne Avenue, Sharon has become familiar with the schoolchildren and their parents.

Everyone who crosses gets a “Hello darling” and a smile, and we pause the interview a few times so she can catch up with the mums.

“I love it because it’s such a social job,” she said.

“Over the years I have been privileged to know thousands of people, so many of them I can call friends.

“I know hundreds of children by name.”

A young girl, who came up no higher than her knees, approaches the road.

“Can you take a step back for me, sweetie?” Sharon says, and the girl obliges before showing Sharon her new dress and shoes.

After watching Sharon with the children it comes as no surprise she has won two awards for her role.

She also helps children cross the road from the nearby Roach Vale, Parsons Heath and Colchester Academy at 9am every week day and again at 3pm.

She said: “I won an award as part of the Quality Street Magic Moments Campaign, I was nominated by parents and was one of ten people in the country to win a box of chocolates with a £500 cheque inside.

“The Gazette also ran a lollipop lady competition and I won that, we won a ferry trip for two.”

From this it is clear the children and their families adore her, and I step back and smile as a young boy hands her a box of chocolates after hearing of her retirement.

He gives her a quick hug and it is enough to bring anyone to tears.

“The good thing about this is the wonderful people I meet,” she says.

“The bad thing is standing in the cold and wet winters.”

Hanging on her last words I ask if she has experienced any other bad experiences with bad drivers.

“I’ve had a couple of incidents where I have ended up on my bottom on the ground,” she says.

“I was also rolled over the top of a van but on the whole the drivers are very good, even though it’s a busy area.”


She has got that right, as during our half-hour conversation she has stepped out into the road about 40 times.

We talk about how hard it is to recruit crossing patrols and Sharon agrees.

She said: “If you’ve got small children you’ll be busy taking them to school, and if you have older children you would want a job with more hours.

“I only do seven and a half hours a week but I think it’s a wonderful job.”

As much as she will miss the children, she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Alan, who retired from his project manager role three years ago.

She will also be able to see more of her daughter Chelsey, 40, son Ben, 44, and her three grandchildren.

She assures me she has had a wonderful 28 years, and it is not something she does for the money, but instead for the heart.

Watching her on her shift I knew she was right, and when I ask her she thinks of the children she has to pause to hold back tears.

“I love them all to bits, I have seen them grow from small children over the years,” she said.