For more than 15 years Edna Obrenovic has held a stop sign outside All Saints Catholic Primary School gates, granting safe passage to hundreds of pupils crossing the road.
With tears in her eyes, she told us that at 76 it was time to retire and this Friday will be her last day.
“I’m crying just thinking about it. The thing I’ll miss most is the children. Over the years I’ve been able to get to know a lot of people from the school and the community. I’ve just had the best time – I’ve been able to make friends and watch the children grow up,” she said.
But she wasn’t the only one with tears.
“This week I told some parents I was leaving and two of the mothers began crying. I didn’t realise they’d take it to heart like that. In the 15 years I’ve been here, I’ve never had an issue with anyone – I get along with everyone.”
Prior to her current job, Edna was her father-in-law’s carer for 15 years, as she helped him battle dementia.
“When he passed away I had nothing else to do so I applied for this job. It’s a really good school – the principal, staff, parents and children are lovely. That’s what motivated me to get the job in the first place and I’ve stayed in it for so long because I love it.
“But I’m at the age now where I’ve been getting more sick. I’ve had a few troubles – in May I had pneumonia and then I had a lung infection. I think the fumes from the cars aren’t helping me either, so I think it’s time to give it up and let someone young have a turn.”
However, the parents and children from the school were well aware of Edna’s health problems. It made her day when they visited her in hospital and brought her a book of notes.
“They wrote me messages about how much they loved me. I love the children, too – I’m going to come back and visit.”
Sarah Veiru has three children who’ve attended All Saints. In honour of Edna, she has organised a morning tea to celebrate her last day.
“I’m dreading Friday because I don’t want Edna to leave. But it’ll be a good opportunity for everyone to say thank-you and goodbye. It’s funny to watch her at the crossing – she know’s everyone’s names so I call her the mayor of Liverpool.
“The morning tea will be held at the school. I’ll set up the balloons and tables but parents will bring plates of food and we’re going to give her gifts.”
She said one of the gifts will be lollies – the lollypop woman’s favourite. Apparently, every morning before the school gates open, Edna sits at the bus stop next to the crossing and shares lollies with parents as they wait together.
“I call her sweetpea and she calls me rosebud.”
But Edna isn’t just the lollypop lady to Mrs Veiru and her family – she’s become a close friend and a grandmother figure.
“As a family we take Edna to the movies every month. She loves watching scary movies. My children and I are so heartbroken but we’ll never lose contact. When she was sick she had a replacement and it wasn’t the same. She’s irreplaceable. When it was grandparents’ day at school my children took Edna – she loved it.
“It was a bit of a surprise that she was leaving because when she couldn’t work a few months ago she was just itching to get back. She loves that crossing. But with all the fumes and with summer coming she wouldn’t have been able to stand in the sun.
“On behalf of the parents I just want to say thank-you for all the effort and time you’ve always put into the community. We’ll miss you like crazy.”