Scotland’s happiest lollipop man says he has been left broken-hearted after council chiefs banned him from dancing and high-fiving school children.
Nkosana Mdikane, 75, put a smile on the faces of thousands of children and parents as he helped youngsters cross the road.
A storm of outrage erupted in February last year when his bosses ordered him to stop dancing and high-fiving the children at his crossing in a bizarre health and safety ruling.
The ruling, which was the subject of widespread derision, said lollipop staff should “remain static with one hand on their stick and the other stretched outwards”.
Now, a year on, granddad-of-eight Nkosana has revealed how the edict led to him quitting the job he loved and has left him with a “bleeding heart”.
Nkosana said: “After they told me I couldn’t dance or high-five the job just wasn’t the same anymore.
“I ended up resigning in June – but I feel like they forced me out. I was sad and embarrassed that I wasn’t allowed to interact with the kids any more. It’s crazy.
“What’s wrong with dancing or giving the high five? It’s completely mad.
“The official reason I gave was that I had an issue with my health but it was an excuse.
“I felt so embarrassed. It was totally against my wish to resign. I resigned with a bleeding heart.
“It was such a wonderful place to work with the kids. It was a place where I was respected, loved and cared for.
“I’m lonely in this retirement. I’m taking it easy now, but I feel like I’m skiving because I was brought up to work.”
Nkosana was praised for his “excellent service” by West Dunbartonshire Council in 2013 after he took up his patrol outside Aitkenbar Primary in Dumbarton.
But the council changed its tune last year with its ruling that he had to stop his singing and dancing.
Nkosana – affectionately known as ‘Smilie’ – said: “The high five issue is the whole reason they made me resign.
“I was just doing the job that I like. I now avoid coming to the crossing because it touches my heart being in this area.
“Yesterday I was a hero, today I’m rubbish. Without the stick I’m nothing here. I don’t forgive the council.”
Nkosana is hugely popular in the community and more than 14,000 people backed a Facebook campaign to persuade the council to rethink the ban.
Local SNP councillor Jonathan McColl claimed the decision had “brought this council into disrepute on a national level”.
But the council refused to back down.
Nkosana attended a retirement presentation at the school in January to say his official good-byes to staff and pupils.
Before moving to Dumbarton from Vereeniging, South Africa in 2003, he worked as a delivery driver and a chauffeur.
Margaret McDougall, 66, from Dumbarton, said her grandson Ryan was one of many children left upset by Nkosana’s departure.
She said: “Ryan was the first that gave him high fives. Now that’s all over. I think it’s scandalous because all the children loved him.”
A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire said: “Everyone in West Dunbartonshire loves Nkosana and he brightened the day for so many while undertaking his job as a crossing patroller.
“He was a brilliant ambassador for our area and we were all really sorry to see him retire last summer.
“Nkosana was extremely popular with pupils, staff and parents at the school.”