A LOLLIPOP lady has retired after 30 years of service.

Theresa Neal was rewarded with a special assembly on Friday for her work to keep children safe crossing the roads outside St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Church Road, Portslade.

The 76-year-old said: “I can’t quite believe it after all these years.

“I kept saying I would retire at 65, then at 70, and then again two years ago, but they didn’t have anyone to replace me and I thought, I can’t leave all these children without a lollipop lady.”

Theresa, who lives in Sharpthorne Crescent in Portslade, said there was a lot of traffic in the road outside the school.

She said: “Church Road is busy all day long, with lorries going up and down.

“That’s really one reason why I have finally retired, as I couldn’t stand the pollution any more.

“I hope they find a replacement soon as they really need someone crossing the children on that road.”

Theresa attended the school assembly with her husband Phil, their son Rob and their three grandchildren Willow, Eden and Reuben.

Theresa’s son Rob, who attended the school as a child, said the day went really well.

He said: “Mum did her usual morning shift and then they put on a special assembly for her and she stole the show for 20 minutes at the assembly.

“She was a bit emotional actually.

“It was a really nice presentation from the school to say thank you for the last 30 years.

“We all went out for breakfast afterwards and then she did her last shift in the afternoon.”

Rob said both his parents have been involved with the school for a long time so Theresa’s retirement was the end of an era.

He said: “They’re both well known at the school and in Portslade.

“Dad was chairman of governors for a number of years and after he retired he was the school caretaker.

“As she’s 76 it seems like a very late retirement, but she has gradually been reducing her jobs over the years.

“Mum’s house is full of flowers now.”

Theresa has previously helped out in the school’s canteen, and also given one-to-one support to individual students in class.

She said: “I’ve done a little bit of everything at that school.

“I have seen so many children grow up there and know so many of the parents, so it was very sad to say goodbye.

“A lot of them said they will miss me.

“I told the kids at the assembly I’d bought them all a lollipop each and the cheer from the room was incredible.

“The parents also gave me a lot of presents, which I really appreciate.

“I will miss getting up every day to do it but I’m determined not to stay in bed too long.”