IT was a bittersweet end to the school year at Termoncanice PS last week as emotional members of staff, pupils and parents lined up to bid their final farewells to lollipop man, Johnny Wilson who has retired after 15 years.
From endless gifts, cards and even high fives, 75-year-old Johnny was inundated with displays of appreciation as he carried out his final shift outside the school on Rathbrady Road.
Staff and pupils marked the momentous occasion by having a 'yellow day' at the school, wearing yellow clothing to give thanks to cheerful Johnny who played a key role in each of the children's morning routines with his smiling face and legendary high fives.
Following his final shift, Mr Wilson spoke to the Northern Constitution: “I meet the children every morning and I see their smiling faces and sometimes I see sad faces so that's why I give them a high five, it just makes their day and cheers them up.
“It's always very busy but it's a job I have loved coming to every morning - there is always something different happening every day, it's just lovely coming here.”
According to Limavady man, Johnny, who was also a former delivery driver for Supervalu, he says the highlight of the job was the children of the school who kindly greeted him each morning.
He continued: “I am feeling sad today and I will miss the children.
“I always got on very well with the staff of the school, I never had any trouble with anybody.
“I will miss the job but I have been left with very happy memories.”
Speaking on behalf of Termoncanice PS, Acting Principal Leo Mc Closkey told the Northern Constitution: “Johnny Wilson was a key part of the children's day in Termoncanice. “No matter what the weather was Johnny always had a smile on his face and was on hand to give a high 5.
“He was the first Termoncanice face the pupils saw each day.
“His warmth and sincerity sent the pupils into school happy and the parents off to work safe in the knowledge their kids were safe. “Children can sense innate kindness and they loved Johnny for this.
“In 30 years at the school I have never witnessed scenes like those on his last full day.
“A line of over 500 parents and pupils walked past Johnny giving him gifts, cards, high fives and a handshake to say thank you.
“A true gentleman who will be sorely missed!”
Additionally, Canteen Supervisor, Mrs Roberta Rodgers shared her retirement with Mr Wilson celebrating her final day at the school on Thursday.
Mr Mc Closkey paid tribute to the Termoncanice ‘legends’ on social media saying: “In Termoncanice we spend time studying People Who Help Us during our Religion lessons.
“Today we celebrated two people who have helped us tremendously over the years, Johnny Wilson our lollipop man and Roberta Rogers the canteen supervisor, both are retiring this year.
“We all dressed in yellow to thank Johnny for keeping us safe and for his kindness.
“You were always guaranteed a smile and a High 5.
“If we dressed in yellow for Johnny we would have wore GOLD for Mrs Rodgers.
“She has a heart of Gold and she is one of the kindest people I have ever met.
“Roberta is loved by pupils and staff.
“Thanks to The Yellow Bird for the beautiful food especially the lollipop cake (thanks Carrie and Margaret Ann).
“Elaine, Eithne and the canteen sent down delicious apple tarts and scones.
“Happy retirements to these two legends.”