FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A former nurse who made a dramatic career switch when her husband gave her an ice cream van as a Christmas present has won a top UK ice cream award.
Katy Alston - known as Mrs Whippy to her customers in Sussex towns such as Bognor Regis and Chichester - has been voted the country's top mobile ice cream seller at a national competition run by the Ice Cream Alliance, the official trade body for the UK's £1 billion ice cream industry.
The award crowns a successful period which has seen her serve up ice cream to guests at the wedding of England rugby player Billy Twelvetrees and at a birthday party organised by actress Kate Winslet for her husband Ned.
Katy, who operates her business Pinks Vintage Ice Cream from premises in Bognor Regis with her daughter Georgia - aka Little Miss Whippy - said she currently has one ice cream van and a tricycle but is now planning to expand her fleet and may also open an ice cream parlour.
She said it all started on Christmas Day more than a decade ago when her husband Kevin bought her the 'best present ever.'
She said: "I had started training as a nurse at a London hospital in my teens and worked as a nurse for 14 years in various roles, including in intensive care and as a night sister.
"When I left I didn't know what to do next, but Kevin suggested I should start an ice cream business. He said I would be in control of my own life and bought me an old van for Christmas, which we did up.
"My favourite colour is pink so I called it Pinks Vintage. Having been a nurse, I found health and safety easy but found it more difficult becoming a businesswoman."
Now her van, with the tuneful strains of The Teddy Bear's Picnic tinkling out, is a familiar sight and sound in residential areas in Bognor and Chichester, and at weddings, parties and other events across Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.
Katy, who sells high quality ice cream made by New Forest Ice Cream in Hampshire, said she could not believe it when she was presented with the award at the ICA's annual expo in Harrogate. "It was absolutely overwhelming," she said.
Katy's success was praised by Zelica Carr, Chief Executive Officer of The Ice Cream Alliance, who said: "The reason the ice cream industry is continuing to flourish is because of people like Katy, who has built up a mobile business with such enthusiasm and dedication over the past decade."
Katy can be contacted on 07986 116843 or 01243 867422.
Further information on The Ice Cream Alliance can be obtained at www.ice-cream.org