Dogs love Roslyn Olerhead. And why wouldn’t they? Every morning, they get a pat, a treat and sometimes a cuddle from the soft-spoken lollipop lady of Brunswick South Primary School.

Parents and children are also drawn to her like a beacon, as one parent puts it. Not just because she wears a high-vis vest but because she’s a bright, friendly presence in their busy days.

“We’ll miss you”: Lollipop lady Roslyn Olerhead shepherds Julie Montan and dog Joy across Brunswick Road.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Julie Montan, mother of a grade six student Raven, 11, says she once told Olerhead she was feeling blue, and the next day Olerhead cheered her up by giving her a rose from her own garden.

In her 31 years of ensuring kids get safely across busy Brunswick Road, Olerhead has knitted baby clothes and blankets for pregnant teachers, and is a listening ear for parents she’s befriended.

The school community is so bereft at Roslyn’s retirement this week that they are holding two events – a presentation at school assembly on Monday, and a morning tea on Friday.

Last Thursday, a gift was left in the basket of Olerhead’s electric scooter. It was a framed photo of Olerhead cuddling Montan’s dog, Joy.

Sue Egan, left, and Roslyn Olerhead have been friends, on and off the crossing, for 31 years.Credit:Scott McNaughton

On the back of the photo was a message from Julie, Raven and Joy: “We love you and we will miss you. Especially Joy!”

Working with Olerhead for almost 31 years has been her good friend Sue Egan. The pair work like a well-oiled machine, Olerhead stepping out from the school side, and Egan from the north side of Brunswick Road, for an hour before school, and an hour after.

Egan is the more talkative one who knows all the human and dog names. Olerhead is more reserved, and calls people “love”, “darl” or “buddy”.

Egan says they can’t stay home in bad weather: “Thunderstorms, rain, heat, you name it, we’re out here.”

Sue Egan, left, and Roslyn Olerhead in the 1990s at the Brunswick South Primary School crossing.

Olerhead, 71, loves her job, but is retiring because her legs aren’t too good – over the years, in life, she has suffered a broken foot and two replacement knees. She’s also had two shoulder replacements.

She’s looking forward to “staying in bed a bit longer”. But she’ll miss “meeting people, and seeing my little buddies, especially the kids”.

But her daughter, Kerry, 42, who attended Brunswick South Primary as a child, and who is currently lollipop lady at Brunswick East Primary, will take her mother’s place at Brunswick South.

Cade Amos, who crosses with son Teddy, 10, says Olderhead’s retirement is “the end of an era”.

Roslyn Olerhead with dog Joy, and the back of the photo given to her by the Montan family.

His groodle Charlie adores Olerhead, trotting across for a treat every day. Amos’ daughter Maisie, 12, now in secondary school, used to give Olerhead flowers from local gardens every day.

Amos said Olerhead “has always got a smile on her face, is always happy to see us and she loves the children”.

Phoebe Whitton, who regularly meets Olerhead for coffee, says her grade one son Beau, 5, and other children ask “where’s Ros?” if she has a day off.

“We are so blessed and so lucky. A lot of people are going to miss her. And all the dogs will. Ros is so lovely, so beautiful and caring.”

Brunswick South Primary School principal Trevor Strolla said families approached him wanting to mark Olderhead’s retirement. “It shows how important she is to the school community,” he said.

The crossing has button-activated pedestrian lights but Strolla said: “Kids don’t necessarily have fully formed peripheral vision, and don’t tend to necessarily see the dangers or risks that are out there. So having someone to assist them to cross safely I think it’s crucial.”

City of Moreland mayor Mark Riley thanked Olerhead for her more than three decades of service to the community. “Ros has touched the hearts of many Brunswick families, offering a cheerful smile as she dons her bright yellow jacket and ushers children safely to school.

“Ros is beloved by Brunswick South Primary School students and displays their artwork proudly around her home.”

Riley said the council was recruiting for school crossing supervisors. “With 7.5 hours of work per week, it’s a perfect job for university students, people who are semi-retired, or those wanting to be more active in their community.”

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