A SCHOOL crossing patrol lady who has helped the children of Sion Mills cross the road for over 27 years has retired.
Mrs Florence Finlay retired at the weekend from her beloved job, where she faithfully stood at her assigned position outside Sion Mills Primary School in the mornings and afternoons - in all weathers - to ensure children got safely across the road.
Florence lives in the Sion Mills with her husband Bertie and celebrated her retirement and birthday with a short break to England where her daughter and family lives.
Reflecting on her time as a crossing patrol lady, Florence told the Strabane Weekly that she "never had a days bother with the children".
She added: "The day started at 8.40am until after 9am. Then in the afternoon, I was out at 2pm for the wee ones and then I would go to my friend, Ann Friel’s house.
"She’d have a cup of tea ready and I’d be back again for the 3 o’clock weans.
"I’d be finished at 3.15pm then back to the house until 3.45pm when I went down to the main road for the ones coming from - I know it’s changed its name - but I still call it 'The Grammar' in Strabane.
"When the yellow buses were on it was a longer stand, but that’s all stopped now.”
When asked about any good or bad memories Florence continued: "I never had a day's bother with any children. They're all good weans.
"A lot of them thanked me for helping them cross the road. You don't get that everywhere.
"Bad weather never bothered me one bit either; I wrapped up if I needed to."
Principal of Sion Mills PS Oonagh McNelis paid tribute to Mrs Finlay praising her as "sure and consistent."
"Florence has faithfully stood at her assigned position in the mornings and afternoons, in all weathers, to ensure children get safely across the road," the principal said.
"There are many quiet and hidden roles that ensure schools function smoothly every day and school crossing patrol is one of those.
"Having a sure and consistent person ensuring children make their way safely across busy roads is important both to safety and to developing independence as parents can be more confident in allowing children walk to/from school, in the knowledge a recognised adult is there for them.
"Florence has been that person for many years.
"Speaking to the children that Florence escorts safely across the road on a daily basis there was a collective ‘aww’ when they heard she is retiring. All of them spoke fondly of her."