HE led them safely across a busy town centre road for more years than anyone can remember.

Pupils at Lymington Infant School could always rely on crossing patrol warden Donald Gibbs to help them negotiate the ever-increasing amount of traffic using Avenue Road.

Everyone at the school was devastated when the popular pensioner died last November aged 74 after a battle with cancer.

Now the 200 pupils are advertising for a new lollipop person following the failure of more conventional attempts to fill the post. The children have even compiled a job description in a bid to ensure that the school attracts the perfect candidate.

They say the warden must be "happy and smiley", know how to hold the lollipop and recognise when it's safe to cross the road.

The advertisement forms part of a letter to the Daily Echo.

It says: "Please can we have a new lollipop person to help us cross Avenue Road safely?

"Mr Gibbs was our lovely lollipop man for many years. Sadly he died and now we have to cross with only our parents and often the cars don't stop - they rush on past.

"Sometimes even when we think it's safe to cross, the car drivers seem to get closer and closer."

In a message to potential applicants the pupils say: "You could job share and be an important member of the community. You would feel very proud and make lots of new friends."

Head teacher Julia Welford said all other attempts to find a new lollipop person had drawn a blank. She added: "The county council has advertised locally and we have sent a note to parents, but all to no avail. Part of the problem is that being a lollipop person breaks up your day."

Mrs Welford said the school was anxious to find a replacement for Mr Gibbs because of the speed and volume of traffic using Avenue Road.

"Crossing the road at 8.30am and 3.30am is a real nightmare," she said.

"Some of the parents have come into the school and told us that they've had close shaves. I'm fearful that something nasty will happen."

Hampshire has been hit by a countywide shortage of lollipop people, with ten towns reporting vacancies. A county council spokesman said: "School crossing patrols are an important part of our plan to reduce the number of child casualties on the roads by 50 per cent by 2010.

"We're fortunate to have a team of dedicated and reliable patrols, but some areas have a real shortage."

You can apply by ringing the school crossing patrol service on 01962 846274.