A FORMER nurse who made a career switch when her husband gave her an ice cream van as a Christmas present has won a top award.
Katy Alston – known as Mrs Whippy to her customers across Hampshire – 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 £1bn ice cream industry.
The award crowns a successful time that has seen her serve 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, has one ice cream van and a tricycle and is now planning to expand her fleet.
She said it all started more than a decade ago when her husband Kevin bought her the ‘best present ever’.
She said: ‘I’d worked as a nurse for 14 years in various roles. 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 is a familiar sight in Bognor and Chichester, and at weddings, parties and other events across Hampshire.
Katy, who sells New Forest Ice Cream, said she couldn’t believe it when she was presented with the award at the ICA’s annual expo in Harrogate.
‘It was absolutely overwhelming,’ she said.