A final crossing for much-loved lollipop pair

Thora Muir is recognised for her contribution to Yohden Primary Credit: Durham County Council

Their smiling faces have been a familiar sight outside County Durham schools for more than half a century.

But now their combined 55 years spent shepherding pupils safely across roads has come to an end following their retirement from ‘lollipop’ duties.

Thora Muir, 74, has hung up her fluorescent gear after 35 years while 80-year- old Jim Armstrong, Durham County Council’s oldest serving school crossing patrol, has called it a day after 20.

Thora, who lives in Horden, spent 31 years at Cotsford Infant School, from 1982, before moving to the community’s Yohden Primary in July 2013, almost four years ago.

Jim was based at Seaview Primary School on The Avenue in Seaham from 1996.

Special assemblies have been held at both Yohden and Seaview to thank the popular pair and wish them long and happy retirements.

Pupils presented Thora with flowers, gifts and cards along with a certificate of appreciation for her 35 years’ service by the council’s road safety manager Paul Watson.

At Seaview, photos were shown of pupils with messages they had written for Jim, while a poem penned by one student and dedicated to the retiree was read out.

Headteacher Karen Field presented Jim and his wife Kath with presents including gifts made by pupils and a school crossing patrol sign made from nursery children’s handprints.

Jim, who lives at Seaham, was presented with a certificate before the assembly concluded with pupils dedicating the Bruno Mars song 'Count on Me' to him.

Jim said:

Speaking after her send-off Thora said:

Lollipop signs Credit: PA

The departures of the experienced duo have led the council to appeal for people interested in becoming a school crossing patrol to come forward.

John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said: