Former firefighter named as Britain’s Lollipop Person of the Year

From the Paisley Daily Express, 8 December 2009 (story by Andy Newport)

SCOTLAND’S top Lollipop man John Foley has been named the best in Britain. He was forced to take early retirement as a firefighter after going down with ME.

The popular 56-year-old who patrols at Bushes Primary School in Glenburn, Paisley, has been voted the UK’s favourite lollipop man after being crowned the Kwik Fit Insurance Lollipop Person of the Year 2009.

He picked up the best lollipop man in Scotland award last month but has now scooped the UK prize.

Despite only working as a lollipop person since January of this year, John has made a huge impression on the children, teachers and parents at the school.

As well as helping the children to cross the road each day, John regularly goes beyond the call of duty, playing goalkeeper in beat-the-goalie competitions at fun days to help raise school funds, talking to children about road safety and generally being involved in all school activities.

Further still, he is the local handyman and has been known to change car wheels when staff have punctures – and he even helps the dinner ladies set up the dining room tables in time for lunch.

John, from Renfrew, a former firefighter, was forced to take early retirement from Strathclyde Fire Brigade after 18 years service when he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome ME.

He said: “It was big blow at the time as I was a very active person. I used to cycle to work every day and would often cycle to Loch Lomond at the weekend.

“It was difficult to stay positive at that time in my life, but I’ve been in good health in recent years and working with the staff and children of Bushes Primary School has given me a new lease of life.”

Headteacher Moira Monaghan says as soon as her pupils heard about the competition they were desperate to support John all the way.

She said: “We were over the moon when we heard John had been picked as the winner for Scotland, but when we took the call saying he had won for the whole of the UK we just couldn’t believe it.

“He’s such an important part of our school and we really don’t think the title could go to a better person. The kids love him dearly and so do we.”

Paisley South councillor Eddie Devine added: “This is a great result. John has done us all proud.

“He is a wonderful advertisement for Glenburn as he is always enthusiastic and brightens up the day no matter the weather.”

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