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School patrol officer Christine waves goodbye after 38 years of helping pupils

One of RCT Council’s longest-serving School Crossing Patrol Officers will soon be retiring from the role – having helped primary school pupils safely walk to school in Pontygwaith for the past 38 years.

Christine Leach, who is from the village and herself attended Pontygwaith Primary School as a child, first started the road safety role during 1984 – and will retire following her last day of work on Friday, May 27. Her dedicated commitment has ensured that generations of children in Pontygwaith have remained safe while crossing the road on the way to school each day.

The 73-year-old is one of around 50 officers employed by the Council to help children and other pedestrians, walking to and from a designated point in the community at busy times of the day. Christine currently works during the morning and afternoon periods, and previously worked at lunch times as well.

She says she is looking forward to her retirement, but is certain she will also miss the role which has become a part of her routine for nearly four decades.

Christine said: “I think that only part of me wants to retire, but the time has come. It’s an achievement to do it for so long, and I’ve loved it. I’ve seen generations of families over the years – some of the parents say to their children that ‘Mrs Leach was a lollipop lady back when I was in school’.

“I do remember the first time I did the job. Three of us applied for the role, and luckily enough I got it. I was having a new roof done on my house at the time, and the builders were ready to do it before I had enough money, so that’s why I went for the job. I could’ve had a new house for the time I’ve been doing it!

“I’ll be spending the free time at my allotment, as well as sewing, cake making, and also helping to look after my great granddaughter.”

Gaynor Davies, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Director, Education and Inclusion Services, said: “I’d like to congratulate Christine for her incredible 38 years of service to her local community, and to say thank you for helping the young people of Pontygwaith arrive and leave school safely each day. Come rain or shine, Christine has been dedicated to her role all these years.

“Christine has helped teach thousands of pupils the importance of road safety from a young age, and I’m sure everyone at Pontygwaith Primary School will miss seeing her each day. We all wish Christine a very happy retirement.”