CHRISSY Morrison has been a lollipop lady for 12 years – and she loves every minute of it. She explains to JEFF TRAVIS how rewarding the job is and backs a campaign to fill the dozens of vacant crossing patrols in the city.
Come rain, shine or a gale, there’s always one lady standing on the corner of a busy road in Buckland.
She is the ever-smiling Chrissy Morrison, who says she has one of the best jobs in the world.
Every day the great-grandmother helps dozens of children and their families cross the road safely and gives them a warm welcome to kickstart their day.
Chrissy is backing a campaign by The News and Portsmouth City Council to recruit more lollipop people – as almost a third of crossing patrols in the city are vacant.
I meet Chrissy on a damp autumn morning at her regular spot – her ‘pitch’ as she calls it – at the junction of Turner Road and Wingfield Street, near Ark Dickens Primary Academy.
I am greeted with a smile and a bunch of sweets.
There are a seemingly endless supply of mints, jellied confectionary and toffees stuffed into the pockets of her fluorescent jacket.
They are for the children and their families, who are almost part of Chrissy’s extended family after 12 years on the job. This is one of the best little jobs you could ever get,’ says the 69-year-old, who lives nearby in Duke Crescent and spent most of her working life running a fruit and vegetable stall at Charlotte Street market in Portsmouth.
‘You get to see all the kids growing up and you get to see the mums, dads and grandparents.
‘You see them through the infants and juniors and on into the seniors – they even come back when they have started work.
‘You are in the middle of the community and hear all their little stories.’
This is clearly not a job for standing around bored.
Like she has eyes in the back of her head, Chrissy is constantly watching the families and the traffic as they come to a point of union – and it’s her job to make sure that no-one gets hurt.
‘She’s amazing,’ says Scarlett Mitchell, 30, who walks her three children to school.
‘She’s protecting your kids and their safety. We see her every morning and if it were not for her, I probably would not have three kids.’
Scarlett says more lollipop people are needed.
‘They should have someone up there at Arundel Street,’ she says.
‘The kids have nearly been run over and the cars don’t stop, even on a red light. The roads are very dangerous.’
Children’s faces light up with glee as they see Chrissy.
A couple of youngsters present her with shiny conkers they have found.
Remarks of ‘Morning Chrissy’ and ‘Alright Chrissy’ fly around from pedestrians of all ages throughout her hour-long morning shift, while Chrissy’s favourite greeting is ‘Hello babes’ and ‘Alright babes’. She knows most of the children and their parents on a first-name basis.
The drivers also get a smile and a thumbs-up for stopping.
Chrissy clearly has bags of energy, but contrary to what I assumed, the lollipop is quite light to pick up.
Chrissy, who is a widow, tells me her routine every day is to get up between 4.30am and 5am.
‘But you don’t need to get up that early for the job,’ she stresses.
Then before her morning shift, she limbers up by doing a workout DVD of yoga or tae bo and perhaps half-an-hour on her treadmill. Luckily her neighbours are her cousin and daughter, who is also a lollipop lady.
After a smoothie of oats, soya milk, pineapple and bananas, she is ready for her shift. Chrissy explains she feels ‘ready to work’ when she puts on her uniform and her ‘SCP’ cap.
The acronym stands for school crossing patrol.
‘I feel like I am ready to do something and get in there,’ she says.
Chrissy says she never wakes up and dreads going to work.
‘This is the gospel truth, I don’t care if it’s wind, rain, whatever, I enjoy the job,’ she says.
‘You just pack on the jumpers or the old long johns if it’s cold. The weather does not bother me.’
The appreciation for the work Chrissy does is obvious.
Sharon Deacon, 38, tells me how Chrissy saved her three-year-old son Bradley from serious injury a few days ago.
‘She’s brilliant,’ says Sharon. ‘If it wasn’t for Chrissy, Bradley would have gone out into the road.
‘She stopped him. It’s really valuable to have her here.’
Abbie Cockett, 10, says: ‘She’s very nice and always gives us sweets. When you walk to school she’s always there and when we walk home she’s always there.’
Tracey Wooloff, 45, walks her two children to school and admits the roads would be very dangerous without Chrissy. There are some major roads that need crossing patrols,’ she adds.
After finishing her shift, Chrissy goes home and pops the kettle on for a well-earned cup of tea before looking forward to her afternoon shift.
‘I love it,’ she says. ‘I really would recommend it to anybody.’
There is one tiny drawback to the job, however.
To many, Chrissy is unrecognisable when she is not in her fluorescent gear.
She laughs: ‘Half the time, people don’t know you when you don’t have the lollipop and the outfit.’
Where patrols are needed
- Sultan Road/Malins Road, Buckland (Ark Dickens Primary Academy)
- St Mary’s Road/Shearer Road, Buckland (Portsmouth Academy for Girls/Penhale Infants/Manor Infants)
- St Mary’s Road/Moorland Road, Kingston (Portsmouth Academy for Girls/Penhale Infants/Manor Infants)
- Eldon Street, Southsea (Cottage Grove Primary)
- Court Lane/Lonsdale Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
- Tregaron Avenue/Dysart Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
- Court Lane/Hilary Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
- St Ronans Road, Southsea (Craneswater Juniors)
- Highland Road/Winter Road, Southsea (Craneswater Juniors)
- Francis Avenue, Southsea
(Devonshire Infants and Fernhurst Juniors)
- Jubilee Road/Devonshire Square, Southsea (Devonshire Infants and Fernhurst Juniors)
- Highbury Grove/Dovercourt Road, Cosham (Highbury Primary)
- Chatsworth Avenue/Dovercourt Road, Cosham (Highbury Primary)
- Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove (Victory Primary/King Richard/St Paul’s Primary/Beacon View Primary)
- Milton Road/St Mary’s Road, Milton (Langstone Infants and Juniors)
- Milton Road/Baffins Road, Copnor (Langstone Infants and Juniors)
- Euston Road/Warren Avenue, Milton (Meon Infants and Juniors)
- Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth (St Jude’s CoE Primary)
- Gladys Avenue/North End Avenue, North End (Stamshaw Infants and Juniors)
- Neville Road/Tangier Road, Copnor (Westover Primary)
- Moorings Way/Warren Avenue, Milton (Moorings Way Infants)
- Dunbar Road, Milton (Milton Park Infants/Juniors)
Key: Road name, ward (schools served)
Vacancies and how to apply
The positions are for 10 hours a week, offering wages of £7.33-£8.01 per hour.
If you could fill one of these positions, contact Sue McDermott at the council on (023) 9284 1155.