County news: ex-pat takes lollies to La La Land

One of Bill Richards' new ice cream vans ready for shipping to the USA

One of Bill Richards' new ice cream vans ready for shipping to the USA

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An ex-pat ice cream man has swapped the South Downs for the sunshine of California – and is hoping British 99s, cornets and lollies will go down a treat.

Bill Richards will soon be selling traditional treats from vintage vans he is having specially shipped to the States.

Former Worthing businessman Bill Richards, pictured with son Jack, is planning to sell 99s and traditional ice creams in California

Former Worthing businessman Bill Richards, pictured with son Jack, is planning to sell 99s and traditional ice creams in California

He said: “I have been living in the States for almost 30 years, but I came over to the UK a few years back for a holiday with my family, who still live in Worthing.

“We were visiting the steam rally at Wiston Park near Steyning and I spotted a beautifully restored 1970s Mr Whippy van selling ice creams – with a queue of people waiting to buy a 99. While I was queuing I thought to myself, a van like this selling traditional English soft serve in the States would go down really well. We live in Santa Rosa in Northern California and there is certainly nothing like that here.”

Bill launched a search for a genuine 1970s Bedford ice cream van but the few he found were in poor condition.

Luckily, his brother Ray spoke to an ice cream vendor in Worthing, who agreed to sell his older vans – one of which he had had since new.

But Bill then faced the problem of getting his vintage vans out to his home in the States.

He called in international auto shipper specialists 1st Move International to whisk the 1974 and 1976-plated Bedford Ice Cream vans out.

Car desk manager Jason de Witt from the Avonmouth-based removal firm helped arrange the journey. He said: “We collected the vans from Worthing and they were packed via roll on-roll-off straight from Southampton. It’s great to think of them beginning a whole new life in the United States.”

The vans are now on their way to Bill, having left Worthing for Southampton, where their transatlantic voyage will begin.

Bill said: “It is just amazing to source the vans from the town I grew up in – and probably when I was younger, I actually bought an ice cream from!”