Mr Whippy's ice cream van announces shock decision to leave Roundhay Park site after 25 years
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The popular ice cream van, in its distinctive pink and white livery, has been a constant presence in the North Leeds park for over 25 years.
Announcing the sad news, the team at Mr Whippy Leeds said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce after 25 years we will be leaving all our sites at Roundhay Park at end of March due to downsizing our business and starting to take things a little easier.
“You will still see us out and about attending events, weddings etc as this side of the business will continue as normal.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Leeds city council, friends of Roundhay Park and everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your loyal custom and friendship over the past 25 years.”
Owner Ian Smith, who lives in Cross Gates, has worked on ice cream vans in the city since he was eight. In 2020, he won an industry award for the ‘best ice cream van’ in the business.
Ian was born into the ice cream trade and the business is a true family affair for the Smiths. His father - Ian Smith Snr - started working on ice cream vans as a teenager and ran a Mister Softee franchise in the city when Ian was growing up.
For Ian, there was never any doubt he would follow in his father’s footsteps, first working on his own in one of his dad's vans at just eight-years-old, serving ice creams at Bramham Horse Trials
“I knew exactly what I’d be doing. I knew that would be a lifelong job for me,” he says. “All the time growing up, I would work on the van, loading stock up and stuff like that. [My dad] used to run about 12 vans from a local depot in Burley when I was a kid.
“So I’ve been around ice cream vans all my life, helping out and working on them. It was fun, I loved it. We used to go all over the place - we’d do quite a lot of shows, air shows, Great Yorkshire Show, we would attend all the big events. You used to get a buzz out of it, getting up early on a morning and setting off with half a dozen ice cream vans in convoy going to shows. I had a very happy childhood doing it.”
“I’ll never do anything else and to be honest I don’t think my daughters will either," he says. "They’ve got it in them like I have me. It’s a family tradition where you come into it and grow up with it.
“Once you’ve done it, once it’s in your blood, you can’t get it out of you. It’s one of those things. You’re eager to get out to work. It’s not about how much money you take, it’s the buzz you get from going out and selling ice cream and serving customers. It just gets hold of you.”