Leeds ice cream van man scoops winning title in UK-wide contest
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His Mr Whippy Leeds vans were voted best in the business by a panel of judges who examined factors including customer service, professionalism and charity work.
Ian said the win was "fantastic", adding: "This is really good news for me, my family and the business.”
The Mr Whippy Leeds vans will be a familiar sight to ice cream fans in Roundhay Park, where he has had a spot for the past 22 years.
Ian has also been selling at Temple Newsam for three years as well as various events, carnivals and weddings.
The grandfather-of-two, of Cross Gates, has come a long way since buying his first van at the age of 18 - a Bedford CF Cummins scoop van - after passing his driving test.
It followed years of helping out with his dad, Ian Smith Snr, on his Mister Softee vans in Leeds from the early 1960s.
He said: "I started as a young boy - I was helping out from the age of three.
"My first time working on my own was Bramham Park Horse Trials when I was nine. I did three days, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I remember getting £1 a day."
But his experience sparked what has gone on to become a successful career and a "way of life", he says.
Today he has a fleet of seven vehicles – four new Mercedes vans and three vintage ice cream vans - and employs seven people in total in the summer months, including his wife Tracy, 51, and daughters Leanne, 26, and Stephanie, 29.
His vans are out come rain or shine, every weekend and holiday in winter and seven days a week during the summer.
He said: "We work long hours. If you added up the hours we work with the amount we earn, you'd probably think we were crazy. But it's just a way of life. If you enjoy something, it doesn't matter does it."
But he remains as passionate about his job now as ever - particularly meeting people every day and chatting with his regulars.
"It puts smiles on people's faces, does ice cream - especially kids," he said.
The 99 flake remains his best seller - and he admits he's partial to at least one a day himself.
"I'd say it outsells everything else added together. I don't know what it is. People think it's 99p but those days are long gone. Ours are about £2. There's no extra charge for our sauce - most people have strawberry sauce.
"I have to have at least one a day. I have too many to be honest."
Ian said the industry has changed over the years - with vans parking up rather than driving around for business as was tradition.
"We used to do it until about 15 years ago. It's a dying trade now. Kids don't play out any more. Years ago there were kids everywhere, it was really busy. But I think it's just the way everything is changing. They're stuck inside playing on computers."
And Ian has no plans to pack in his beloved job, pointing out even his dad, at the age of 71, is still selling ice creams down in Norfolk where he now lives.
"It does something to you, this job. You don't want to stop," he said.
Ice Cream Van of the Year, known as the Mobiler of the Year, has been running for 70 years.
All entrants are whittled down to three finalists who are interviewed by ice cream industry experts at the annual Ice Cream and Artisan Food Show.
Zelica Carr, CEO of the Ice Cream Alliance, said: "A big congratulations to Ian and everyone at Mr Whippy Leeds who have been recognised for being the best in the business.
"Ice cream vans have a great history in this country – and the British public view them with affection. Ian Smith shows that they also have a great future.”