Cromford fights to save its lollipop lady

Cromford lollypop lady Daphne Redfern
Cromford lollypop lady Daphne Redfern

A community is fighting to save its lollipop lady as the council prepares to axe school crossing patrols in a bid to meet more spending cuts.

Local character Daphne Redfern has been helping youngsters walking to Cromford Primary School to cross Cromford Hill safely for 33 years.

“Everybody knows me,” she said.

“I couldn’t rob a bank - everyone would know it was me.”

However last week Derbyshire County Council announced it was considering cutting school crossing patrols as part of their effort to save £158million by 2018.

Daphne, of Cromford, has only had one week off due to illness in more than three decades service to the community.

The 74-year-old - who has seven children, 15 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren - said she does the job for the love of children.

“Rain, snow, shine, fog, thunder - you name it, I’m there,” she added. “It’s a reason to get up in the morning and I like meeting people and being friendly.”

Upon hearing the news that Daphne could lose her job, Carol Easton, the sub post master at Cromford Post Office, set up a petition to try and save her.

“Daphne has crossed the children across Cromford Hill for many years,” she said. “She crossed my children and they are all grown up now.

“I decided to start the petition because once the council has made its decision it’s very difficult to get it reversed, so I thought the sooner we get out there and do something the better.

“It’s not just our village, it’s all the villages in Derbyshire.”

Carol said Daphne was one of Cromford’s characters and at Christmas always gives the children gifts.

“For someone to do that out of their own pocket, I just think it’s such a lovely thing to do and it’s unique,” she continued. “I think they’re ripping the heart out of local communities.”

Daphne said she thought it was disgusting that the council was thinking of axing lollipop ladies and men.

“How are they going to expect children to cross over Cromford Hill?” she added.

“There are a lot of HGVs that come up the hill.”

A council spokesman said: “Like many of the cuts we’re being forced to propose, we don’t want to cut school crossing patrols.

“We have to cut £157m from our budget and we’re reviewing all of our buildings and services, including school crossing patrols.

“We understand this is an issue people feel very passionately about. No decisions have yet been made.

“If the proposals are carried forward a full consultation will take place.”