Thora and Jim bow out after 55 years of lollipop duties
Their happy smiling faces have been a familiar sight outside County Durham schools for more than half a century.
But now their combined 55 years spent shepherding pupils safely across roads has come to an end following their retirement from 'lollipop' duties.
Thora Muir, 74, has hung up her fluorescent gear after 35 years while 80-year-old Jim Armstrong - our oldest serving school crossing patrol, has called it a day after 20.
Thora, who lives at Horden, spent 31 years at Cotsford Infant School at Horden, from January 1982, before moving to the community's Yohden Primary in July 2013, almost four years ago.
Jim was based at Seaview Primary School on The Avenue in Seaham from 1996.
Special assemblies have been held at both Yohden and Seaview to thank the popular pair and wish them long and happy retirements.
Pupils and teachers from Cotsford Nursery, Cotsford Infants and Yohden Primary presented Thora with flowers, gifts and cards while she was also given a certificate of appreciation for her 35 years' service by our road safety manager Paul Watson.
Three school crossing patrols from Horden, county councillor for the village June Clark and parents were also present.
At Seaview, photos were shown of pupils with messages they had written for Jim, while a poem penned by one student and dedicated to the retiree was read out.
Headteacher Karen Field presented Jim and his wife Kath with presents including vouchers, flowers and gifts made by pupils including books of memories and a school crossing patrol sign made from nursery children's handprints.
Jim, who lives at Seaham, was presented with a certificate by Mr Watson before the assembly concluded with pupils dedicating the Bruno Mars song Count on Me to him.
An emotional goodbye
"It's a really difficult thing to retire but I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone I've got to know over the years. I'll really miss them all."Jim said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my 20 years as a 'lollipop man.' I've got to know so many children, parents and members of staff in this time and loved chatting to them all on a daily basis
Thora said: "The weather hasn't always been great but the smiles and 'hellos' you get from the children and their mums and dads makes it all worthwhile.
"It was lovely to attend the assembly and very emotional to say goodbye to everyone."
Alison Smith, headteacher at Yohden, said: "The children, staff and governors of Yohden Primary School wished Thora a very happy retirement after 35 years. She has helped to keep children safe while crossing the road in all weathers and has volunteered at many school events over the years. We will all miss her."
The departures of the experienced duo have led the council to appeal for people interested in becoming a school crossing patrol to come forward.
John Reed, our head of technical services, said: "First and foremost, I'd like to thank Thora and Jim for their excellent service. You only had to be at the assemblies to appreciate the affection in which they were held and how much they'll be missed.
"I think they'd both agree being a 'lollipop' man or a woman is a highly rewarding job with the bonds you build with children, parents and teachers longlasting.
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