Meet veteran lollipop lady, Gillian Duffy. Gillian has become an institution in Rochdale and one of the country’s most decorated and experienced lollipop ladies.
For more than 30 years she has worked for the council escorting children across the road and now she has a new honour, she is the UK’s first Sharia Law compliant lollipop lady.
As more and more Islamic schools pop up around the country councils are having to act to ensure that children are safe and that their beliefs are respected. Rochdale has been spearheading the initiative to introduce sharia law compliant crossing zones, complete with their own burqa wearing lollipop ladies. With the first being introduced at the Rochdale Islamic Academy on Taylor Street.
Gillian saw the role advertised on the local council website and was intrigued, applied and is now making history.
“You don’t have to be a Muslim to work here, but it helps.” Joked Gillian during our interview. “It’s just like any other Lollipopping job really. You just have to make sure you don’t make eye contact with any men and skip lunch during Ramadan.”
Surprisingly Gillian isn’t a Muslim, none applied for the job. A council spokesman said;
“Our diversity policy meant that the job really was open to anybody. It might seem strange that we now have a 70 year old Christian woman wearing a burqa working as a lollipop lady, but we have to move with the times. It’s our responsibility to ensure that the religious beliefs of the locals are fully respected, and of course the safety of children.”
When asked how Gillian felt about the Burqua she replied. “It’s great, it really is. I get an extra twenty minutes in bed on a morning because I don’t have to wear any make up. They’re the future, soon everybody will be wearing them.”