Catton Grove’s John is lollipop man of the year

Children at a Norwich primary school raised the roof for their much-loved lollipop man, who has been named the region's best.

At a special Catton Grove Primary School assembly yesterday, 72-year-old John Curtis said he was pretty much moved to tears when he was greeted by cheering children and told of he was the East of England's Lollipop Person of the Year.

He received the honour after a letter writing and email campaign by appreciative children, teachers and parents at the school.

The former Start-Rite shoe factory worker, who has seen children safely across the road to school for a decade, was told he was going to introduce himself to a reception class, but was greeted by the whole school who turned out for the award presentation.

Mr Curtis, of Ardney Rise, in Norwich, said: 'It is one of the best surprises I've ever had.

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'It is staggering. I didn't realise. I know they appreciated what I did, but I never knew it was any great skill.

'I expect children to make a noise, but that was unbeliveable. It kind of brought a tear to my eye. I shall really treasure this.'

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Mr Curtis applied for the job 10 years ago when he retired from Start-Rite.

'I heard that they wanted someone to see the children across the road and I applied and got the job. It's a great job, in fact it isn't really a job. It is just an honour to be able to do it.'

Mr Curtis cycles to school each day and spends half an hour in the morning and afternoon seeing the children safely into school.

He is a reliable lollipop man and even made it out during the snow.

'It is lovely to be able to come out in the fresh air and meet the children and their parents. I know most of them by name,' he added.

'I think you cannot teach children about road safety young enough. One of the big roles that we have with the children is that they listen to us.

'My favourite part of the job is meeting the young children. They are great. They mean what they say. There is no side to them. They are just all so lovely. They will come up and give you hugs and they are just so pleased to see you.'

Eight-year-old Ellie-Jasmine Barrett, pictured, is one of the children Mr Curtis sees across the Weston Road each morning.

She said: 'He just smiles at me and always says hi to me. I get to the road because I want to cross it with my mum and he stops the car with his lollipop.

'I thought he deserved it because he has been a really good lollipop man and he helps people to get across the road.' Catton Grove Primary headteacher Tim Lawes said they had heard about the award when they were sent an email by Kwik-Fit Insurance, which ran the competition.

He added: 'He is just such a happy responsive individual. He is just one of those people that radiates warmth even on the most freezing cold January morning or when it is chucking it down with rain. He knows the names of the kids and knows the names of the parents. Everybody loves him.'

Do you have a story about someone who goes out of their way to help others? Call reporter Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or email

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