As Wouldham and Peters Village schoolchildren and their families stand by for the worst of winter, they will be cheered to see Stella Wingate running the school crossing patrol.
Stella was appointed at the beginning of the autumn term 2018 after funding provided to Wouldham All Saints Church of England Primary School by Peters Village developer Trenport, and the housebuilders of the site: Bellway, Ashberry, Orbit and Hyde & Westerhill Homes.
Since then, clad in her hi-visibility uniform, she has helped hundreds of children cross the road at the Medway Inn junction, between Knowle Road, High Street and Hall Road, a role that becomes increasingly important in gloomy wintertime conditions before and after school.
“I love the job, especially as I’ve lived in Wouldham for 17 years now and feel I’m contributing something to a village I’ve come to love,” said Stella. “The children always say ‘thank you’ after I’ve seen them across the road safely and that gives me a warm feeling.
“I’ve also had fantastic support from the school and the head, Carl Fitter. The hours are handy too, as I can be home when my 16-year-old daughter Jade comes in from her own school day.
“I was surprised to learn that I would need two days’ training, but the course was actually very useful and gave me a better insight into all the safety aspects,” she added.
The role also adds neatly to what really has been a caring career for Stella, who previously worked as a registered nurse and an occupational health advisor, before ‘retiring’ last Easter after ten years as a self-employed foot health practitioner.
“I like to be active, so a lot of my spare time is spent outside, gardening and walking the dog and also in the local church choir,” added Stella, who has moved around in her career, with locations including the Lake District, Cornwall and nine years in South Africa.
Wouldham school moved from its former site in the centre of village in February last year to an all-new purpose-built complex – the land and funding being provided by Trenport – in order to cater for both the children of Wouldham and those living on Peters Village, which is set to have 1,000 homes within the next few years.
The school’s head, Carl Fitter, said: “The new school location is ideally placed for Wouldham and the new community at Peters Village, but the safety of children walking to the new school was paramount, so we are absolutely delighted to have Stella as our ‘lollipop lady’. Everybody loves her here!”
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