People line streets of Chapeltown to say goodbye to ice cream man 'Kooler Bar' John Collier

People lined the streets of Chapeltown to say goodbye to much loved ice cream man 'Kooler Bar' John Collier.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:31 pm

The funeral cortege travelled down Chapeltown Road, following part of his old ice cream route, on Wednesday, June 23.

It came after a private family mass beforehand.

Ice cream vans took part in the procession playing the traditional 'O Sole Mio' jingle, in a fitting tribute to John.

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Ice cream vans in the funeral procession for Kooler Man John Collier.

John Collier mainly drove his van around the Harehills, Chapeltown and Scott Hall areas but also used to serve ice creams at weddings, parties and for companies.

He died aged 76 on June 7 following a long battle with lung condition pulmonary fibrosis - and Chapeltown residents turned out to pay their respects.

Speaking outside Cantors Fish Bar was Karen Louis, who came to pay her respects with friends and family.

Karen, 50, from Chapeltown, said: "We are here because he was the man.

People lined the streets of Chapeltown to pay tribute to 'Kooler man' John Collier.

"Everyone in this community knows Kooler.

"He has served about four generations, and he would serve anyone whether you had one pence or one pound, you always got an ice cream - and if you were starving you might even get a hot dog.

"No child was left without, no matter what race, colour or background.

"You could take an empty Tupperware and he would fill it all up with ice cream, sauce and sprinkles.

'Kooler man' John Collier was one of the most popular people in Leeds. People lined the streets of Chapeltown to pay their respects to him following his funeral mass.

"If you had a kids party or a barbecue, you could always give him a ring and he would stop his round and park up at your event - he was just amazing.

"I can't imagine him without a smile on his face. He was just a lovely guy."

Former Lord Mayor of Leeds and councillor for Chapel Allerton, Eileen Taylor, and local activist Claude Hendrickson, also came to pay their respects.

Claude had also previously arranged a an 'ice cream and ice lolly salute' for John last week, where people could stop and pay tribute in memory of John, with a minute's silence followed by dancing and memories shared.

Hundreds of people paid an emotional 'ice lolly salute' tribute to a popular Leeds ice cream man following the news of his death last week. cc Angie Talbot

Both Councillor Taylor and Claude said John played a big part in shaping the diverse community into the one it is today.

Claude said: "John was the first ice cream man who stopped in Chapeltown in the 60s, serving ice cream to the black community when other vans didn't stop.

"I bought ice cream from him as a young kid, my children got ice cream from him and now my grandkids.

"That's three generations of my family.

"He would always stop and wait, even if you were were miles away he'd never make you run."

Coun Taylor added: "He was just a lovely man - kind, caring and understanding and no matter who you are you were never turned away without an ice cream or bubbly cone - and he always knew your preference.

"He was the first to start selling ice cream in this community and he created the path for everyone else to follow.

"But even now the other ice cream vans don't get close to John.

"He was different and just an amazing man.

"No one but John would get this kind of turn out today - this is just how much he meant to the community."

The ice cream man's family have described him as a "popular and legendary ice cream man in the Chapeltown area for over 40 years and a kind-hearted, well respected friend to many".

John was a "dearly loved" father to Louisa, Jon-Paul and Ferrari, a grandad to Bella and Poppy and also a brother and father in law.

The family have said they "greatly appreciate the warm and heartfelt tributes that have been paid to John."

They added that he will be "loved and remembered every day."

Jon-Paul Collier said his dad was his "best friend".

The 38-year-old said: "He was my best mate.

"We did so much together and he did everything for his children.

"He was an ice cream man for more than 40 years and absolutely everyone knew him.

"I don't think I have any tears left now."

Jon-Paul said his dad was "not about making money" and he always prided himself on making his ice creams affordable for the communities he served.

He said his dad lived a "rollercoaster" of a life but always had a smile on his face.

Jon-Paul said: "His life was not easy.

"He maintained a smile on his face throughout.

"His customers were not just that, they were also his friends."

Jon-Paul told the YEP one of his dad's biggest achievements was winning an outstanding achievement community award in 2011.

He said: "The award meant so much to him.

"It took pride of place in his home.

"He treasured it and was very proud."