Nulsen Primary School lollipop lady recognised for 40 years' service

Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski and long serving traffic warden Wendy McKenna help local children cross the road safely. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski and long serving traffic warden Wendy McKenna help local children cross the road safely. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

A commitment to community and a friendship with the town's school children have seen a Nulsen lollipop lady become the longest serving traffic warden in WA.

Wendy McKenna started as a warden 40 years ago in October 1979. She has spent the vast majority of that time keeping children safe on their way to and from Nulsen Primary School.

Mrs McKenna started on Harbour Road, but transferred to Pink Lake Road near the school to help her own children travel safely.

Over the decades, her children have grown up and their children have crossed the same walk, but she has remained.

Mrs McKenna has been so committed to her role, she has turned down other jobs that would've conflicted with her crosswalk responsibilities.

"It's a great job, it's a community job," she said.

"You befriend [the students]. Most of the times you don't have any trouble if you make friends with them, joke with them and have a little chat.

"You're sort of like the middle mum.

"You see the show and tell go to school and you see the reports before they get home. If the kids want to show you they just show you, so hopefully the parents don't get annoyed that the crosswalk lady has seen the report before they got home."

It's a remarkable feat and something really special and something [Mrs McKenna] should be very proud of.

Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski.

Mrs McKenna is so well known among the school community, she has been dubbed by some students as 'Nanna Wendy'.

"They're people that are not related, but I hear 'hello Nanna Wendy' or 'hello town Nanna'. Because they have a farm Nanna and I'm the town Nanna," she said.

"You become friends with lots of the kids and you like to have a chat. And the parents, you get to know them too."

As a warden, Mrs McKenna must remain on her feet as some younger children can run onto the road and some distracted drivers fail to stop.

"You go into 'save the child mode'," she said.

"At the beginning of the year you know the new students and you have a chat about the rules.

"You can't be slack at all because you've got to read a person's mind to see whether they're going to stop. Sometimes they don't."

Mrs McKenna said she planned to continue her warden role for the foreseeable future until she had the urge to try something new.

Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski said she was the longest serving warden in the state's history, at least since records had been kept.

"It's a remarkable feat and something really special and something [Mrs McKenna] should be very proud of," he said.

Nulsen Primary School principal David Callow also thanked Mrs McKenna for her service to the school over the years.