Community support for suspended Mansfield lollipop man following death of wife

Members of the Rainworth community have rallied around a lollipop man who they believe was wrongly suspended from his job. 

Mick Smith, aged 75, works as a traffic patrol officer outside Python Hill Academy, where he supports people crossing the busy Sherwood Road. 

Python Hill Academy, on Kirklington Road, Rainworth.

Python Hill Academy, on Kirklington Road, Rainworth.

But on Monday, November 25, he got into an altercation with a woman who had “ignored” his request to stop, and who allegedly returned later in the day to “verbally abuse” him. 

The 75-year-old, whose wife Margaret died last week, was working his first shift following the death and was, his daughter Sharon Smith says, “vulnerable”.

And she adds that, because the woman made a complaint about Mick to his employer, Nottinghamshire County Council, he was suspended from his role - effective immediately.

Sharon says her father is “heartbroken” by the decision.

She said: “On Monday morning a lady decided to ignore my dad’s request to stop her car to allow children to cross.

“Then in the afternoon she came back, parked her across the pavement blocking my dad in and proceeded to verbally abuse him.

“He then told her to leave him alone and that his wife had just died and she continued. This was my dad’s first day back today after losing my mum, and regardless of that he deserves respect.

“Then to make matters worse the council has suspended him because the lady made a complaint by the phone.

“The council made my 75-year-old vulnerable dad, who had lost his wife less than a week before, drive to its offices to tell him he was suspended and then for him to drive home. 

“He is absolutely heartbroken over this.”

Members of the Rainworth community have leapt to the support of the suspended pensioner, and some have suggested starting a petition for his reinstatement 

Commenting on a thread in the Rainworth Community Issues page, Paul Shanahan said: “He's one of the nicest men I've ever come across, it's a disgrace.”

Diane Cranson added: “I think suspending him was wrong, and most of all not making sure there is another to take care of our kids while it’s getting investigated.

“He is so kind and friendly, and to take away the thing he lives for is unacceptable.”

Andy Stirland, the school’s headteacher, said: “I have just been informed by Notts CC that the crossing patrol officer Mick Smith on Sherwood Road will not be returning to his role for the near future. 

“Can I clarify that the school has had nothing at all to do with the incident, nor do we employ the traffic patrol officers, and as a school we have had no input into what happened. 

“I am currently in the process of contacting Notts CC to gain further information regarding the situation.”

Nottinghamshire County Council has been contacted for a comment.