Billy Hughes made the jump from Rolls Royce supervisor to Cardonald lollipop man 15 years ago – and hasn’t looked back since. by EMILY CAPALDI
On the darkest and coldest of days, Billy Hughes brightens up the lives of the kids of Cardonald Primary School.
Billy, 74, is a lollipop man who helps children cross Paisley Road West from the bottom of Walkerburn Road in Cardonald.
What makes this man extra special, however, is the fact that he has been dressing up as Santa Claus for Cardonald Primary School for the past six years.
Explaining why he decided to become a lollipop man, Billy said: “Well I retired early, at 59, and it’s just something to do and it’s good fun – except for the weather of course.”
He has been a lollipop man for 15 years. Before retiring, Billy worked at Rolls Royce for 43 years as a supervisor.
“This job is vastly different from working at Rolls Royce,” he says. “I certainly didn’t have to stand outside in this kind of weather back then, didn’t have any cold.
“I met a lot of great people at Rolls Royce and made really great friends over the 43 years I worked there – and I’m still pally with a good few of them even now.”
After the many years of working at Rolls Royce, Billy hasn’t slowed down and braves the gruelling Glasgow weather day after day to help the public safely cross busy roads.
He started dressing up as Santa for work after the headteacher of the nearby primary school asked him to do it, and they also provide the costume for him at Christmas time.
“The kids love it.They think I’m Santa, they look for my reindeer and actually they could probably find some in this weather!”
He added: “I work at the school after I do my lollipop shift. I do litter picking at the primary school and I got to know the headteacher through that, so I think that was the reason I was asked.”
Billy has had a lot of previous experience of being Santa as he has done it for his family for many years.
His children and grandchildren are used to having Santa around the house and so he didn’t need any practice before doing it for the school.
“I did it for my kids when they were growing up and then for my grandkids so I’m used to the whole ‘ho ho ho’. I’ve got it perfected.”
Billy has two granddaughters aged 11 and eight who attend a nearby primary school and he gets to spend time with them through his work as a lollipop man.
He said: “They usually get a lift home so I don’t see them but some days they go to the library after school and then I take them home, which is great.”
Hannah Young, 36, of Cardonald, has two children who attend Cardonald Primary School.
Her children were delighted when Santa helped them cross the road this Christmas.
Hannah said: “My kids absolutely adore Billy and they genuinely believe that he is Santa.
“He has never failed to put a big smile on their little faces.”