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Lollipop Life
ImageFor a generation of children growing up in Stoke Newington lollipop lady Rose Adams has been a part of daily life.  In 2005  Ellie Dawson of Betty Layward Primary School went in search of Rose.  

She found that Rose has been poorly, and has had to hang up her lollipop.  Rose talks to Ellie about cars,  lollipops, ice cream and life on the zebra crossing  ....

Q.    Which school did you go to?
A.     I grew up in St. Vincent in the West Indies.  I did not go to school until I was seven because I had been badly  bitten on the leg by sandflies, and the wound took a very long  time to heal.  But my cousins used to come by and tell me what I had missed at school so I did not fall too far behind.

Q.   Were there lollipop ladies when you went to school?
A.    No.  We used to walk on pathways, not roads: we used stepping stones to cross the river to school.

Q.    When did you come to England?
A.    I arrived on 8th July 1960.  I had an exciting journey. My family thought it would not be safe for a young lady  to travel all the way to England by boat, so I went by sea just to Barbados and the rest by plane.

Q.   Was being a lollipop lady your first job?
A.    No, my first job was as a packer in Nelsons ice-cream factory  – my favourite flavour was the vanilla. I had lots of jobs - I worked at the Post Office for 21 years

Q.   What inspired you to become a lollipop lady?
A.     When I retired from the Post Office I had a lot of spare time.  I want to be occupied.   I  applied to the police - who used to be in charge - to be a lollipop lady.  I love children and I thought that’s the job for me!   My first day with the lollipop was 17th January 1994 and I‘ve loved every single minute of it.

Q.    How many lollipops do you have?
A.    Just one.

Q.    Do you have any children and do you have any relatives who are lollipop ladies?
A.    I surely do.  I have two sons, eight daughters, forty grandchildren and now seven great-grandchildren – but no other lollipop ladies in the family yet.

Q.  What is the most dangerous thing you can do near a zebra crossing?
A .  Some people just don’t care – they just want to bypass by the children as quickly as they can.  That can be very dangerous.  They get me angry so many times.  Sometimes I shout to a driver “Where did you get your licence from?  Sainsbury’s ?”   And when people shout abuse at me – and they do – I just say very politely “The same to you”.

Q.    What changes have you noticed in Hackney over the years?
A     I first came to live here in 1969. There’s a lot of better housing developments now.  And people have changed - some people were so stuck up - I find they are much more friendly now. Everyone says Hi and How are you now.
Q.   Do you have any advice for future lollipop ladies?
A.    Remember that children can never be TOO safe.  My tip is this: when a line of vehicles is coming which you need to stop – don’t stop the first one.  You can‘t just into the street. Stop the third car.  That gives everyone time to get ready for the children to cross .  And make sure the children are standing on the pavement before they cross.

Q.    What is your favourite hobby?
A.     I‘ve been singing since the age of three.  We were a close family - we all used to sing. Everyone said I‘d got such a wicked voice... I sing in concerts - I used  to sing to children at harvest festival time in local schools which I loved.

This article was written in Autumn 2005:  if you would like to read another Kids Talk interview, have a look at Issue 5

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