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All roads lead to retirement for Lynn

Meet Lynn Hepworth - the woman who has been working tirelessly for two decades to keep people as safe as possible on the roads of Middlesbrough.

The Road Safety Officer for Middlesbrough Council is putting the brakes on her 20 year career - in which she will have helped at least tens of thousands of people in the town either directly or indirectly - by taking early retirement.

Lynn joined the council in 2002 as a "Kerbcraft Pedestrian Co-ordinator" - a Government-funded project which aimed to reduce child casualties on UK roads by 50%.

As part of the hard working and talented team, Lynn and her colleagues reduced the rate in Middlesbrough by a staggering 86.4%.

She can also be unmasked for the first time as the council's long-term road safety mascot Safety Squirrel, as well as his colleagues Pedestrian Pete and Seatbelt Sheriff! 

In her current role Lynn works with nursery and school children of all ages, with older road users groups, offers bespoke training on issues such as teaching expectant parents how to correctly and safely put a baby or child into a car seat and organises awareness campaigns with partner agencies.

She has worked closely over the years with Road Safety Great Britain North East Group helping develop North East wide road safety campaigns including designing a School Crossing Patrol information leaflet that was made available nationally and purchased by road safety teams across the country.

Lynn has also been a member of Cleveland Strategic Road Safety Partnership and has enjoyed working with neighbouring local authorities as well as Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Reflecting on her work Lynn said: "The variety of working with so many people in different circumstances and feeling you are doing a job that makes a real impact on people's safety.

"In some small way you might affect someone's behaviour and without ever being able to quantify that you might have saved a life along the way.

"Everyone is our customer. That's what I have loved about the job. You can be at a nursery on a morning speaking to very young children and then speaking to older road users on the afternoon about the challenges they face.

"There's nothing like watching 300 children sitting on the floor completely engaged in what you are saying or if they come up and say ‘thank you' - you get a real sense of satisfaction.

"I do sometimes get spotted every now and then too by a child who will say ‘you are the lady that came to my school to talk to us about road safety'."

One memorable occasion for Lynn during her time with Middlesbrough Council came in 2004 when she teamed up with football legend Juninho to promote a ‘don't drive tired' campaign encouraging Boro fans to travel safely to and from the successful Carling Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

While many of her colleagues would have given their right arm for the meeting, a slightly non-plussed Lynn arrived for the photo op in the giant safety squirrel outfit alongside a worried looking diminutive Brazilian footballer.

Having changed out of the costume, which gets very hot inside, she was met by the rest of the team.

"Some people love to meet the Boro players," said Lynn. "I met them dressed as a giant squirrel and I didn't know who any of them were apart from Juninho! I did find out later though that the one who asked if I was ok because I looked hot was the goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer."

With her husband Neal retiring at the same time, the couple plan to indulge their passions for travelling and caravanning.

Middlesbrough Council Road Safety Officer Lynn Hepworth who is retiring after two decades working to keep the people of Middlesbrough safe