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 retailer 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 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 (Little Miss Whippy), currently has one ice cream van and a tricycle but is now planning to expand her fleet and 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."
Katy said she could not believe it when she was presented with the award at the ICA's annual expo in Harrogate, saying "it was absolutely overwhelming.”
Katy's success was praised by Zelica Carr, chief executive officer of The Ice Cream Alliance, who added: "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."
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