Video: Ipswich lollipop lady is best in region

FOR more than two decades, Gill Watkins has been seeing Ipswich schoolchildren safely across the road.

FOR more than two decades, Gill Watkins has been seeing Ipswich schoolchildren safely across the road.

And now her efforts have been recognised as she has been awarded East of England's Lollipop Person of the Year.

Ms Watkins started her job as a lollipop lady on the crossing outside Halifax Primary School in Prince of Wales Drive, Ipswich, when her daughter, then five, joined as a pupil 22 years ago. She has stuck with the job ever since and has no plans to give up yet.

The 65-year-old, who lives in Maidenhall and also works part-time as a carer in a residential home, said: “My daughter had just started at school and I thought I could do the job as I would be up at the school anyway to drop her off and collect her.

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“I like the job and enjoy seeing the children. The cold doesn't worry me-it is the wind that can be a problem.

“I was really shocked to hear that my name had been entered for this competition and then completely taken aback when they told me I had won.

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“I will continue doing this job as long as I have the health to do so.”

There was tough competition for the impressive title, as Ms Watkins was one of 15,000 entries nationwide for the Kwik Fit Insurance Lollipop Person of the Year competition.

Many of the pupils provided a list of reasons why they believed Ms Watkins was the best lollipop lady and this was then all put together as an entry and sent off.

Her prize consists of £500 in travel vouchers and £100 in book vouchers for the school and a silver engraved trophy in the shape of a lollipop.

She has also been automatically been entered into the national competition and if she is successful, she will win £1,500 in holiday vouchers, £200 in book vouchers for the school and the school will receive a visit from George Sampson of ITV's Britain's Got Talent fame.

Anna Hennell James, head teacher, said: “It is really lovely that Gill's contribution to the community has been recognised in this competition. She knows all the children by name and she has a really friendly personal approach.

“She does a fantastic job and always does it with a smile on her face.”

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