Children, teachers and staff of Primate Dixon Primary School in Coalisland have united in an emotional farewell to their much-loved crossing patrol woman, Mary Hughes, who has recently passed away.
Countless messages of sympathy have been extended to the family and friends of Mrs Hughes - described as the “first face” of the school, and someone who came to know all the pupils in her care.
In a statement on the school’s Facebook page, a Primate Dixon PS spokesperson said: “Mary was small in physique but great in stature, with an imposing personality that got her work done among so many moving people and vehicles.
“She kept every child safe crossing the lane on their way into and going home from school. Not only did she keep our children safe but she had a great in interest in every single one of them. She knew them all and she loved them all. And the girls and boys knew her.
“They knew her as the lady who smiled and said that first hello of each day and crossed them safely. And they also knew her as their friend. They knew her as their Mary and they loved her as their Mary.”
Mary’s funeral took place to St Mary and St Joseph’s Church on Monday. Pupils from Primate Dixon provided a guard of honour as the cortege made its way into the chapel in Brackaville.
It is understood the popular lollipop lady had recently retired from the job she loved.
Glowing tributes have been paid to Mary, including one from a parent who said: “My little girl only started p1 in September past but Mary always had a wave and smile for her from day one”.
Another described Mary as “one of life’s true ladies”, while another wrote: “So sad to hear of Mary passing she was an absolute lady and will be greatly missed by all present and past pupils and staff of Primate Dixon PS. She was always smiling and spoke to every child by name. My thoughts and prayers are with her family RIP”.