A LONG-SERVING lollipop lady is preparing for her final day at work after 40 years of helping children cross the road.

Sheila Gaskell will be helping children from Cassop Primary School near Durham cross in safety for the very last time on Friday (July 18) before she retires.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the 71-year-old was honoured at a special school assembly and received a certificate of appreciation from her employers Durham County Council.

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The great-grandmother lives in the village and is herself a former pupil of Cassop Primary.

She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my job over the years – even being stood outside during the cold winters – but it is now the right time to have some time to myself, and besides the house needs decorating.

“Times have changed a great deal since I first started but the job has pretty much always stayed the same.

“I have helped different generations of the same family cross the road over the years and have even helped grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people I went to school with – it’s just like a big family.

“I have met many lovely people so I’m sad to be leaving and will miss seeing them every day but my seven-year-old great-grandson goes to the school and my great-granddaughter, who is two, will also be going there in a couple of years so I will still be visiting regularly and seeing all my old friends."

Paul Watson, the council’s road safety manager, said: “Sheila has devoted 40 years of her working life to keeping several generations of children, parents and teachers at Cassop Primary School safe. She is a credit to the service.”