"I couldn't retire", says Sheffield ice cream legend who has been serving community for nearly 60 years
A Sheffield legend who has been serving ice cream to a city community for a cool 58 years has scooped a top award for his services.
Grandad Philip Ronksley was awarded a ‘Chairman’s Award’ by the chairman of Ecclesfield Parish Council, Coun Terry Bawden, for his dedication to the job.
The 75-year-old has been selling his icy treats to the young and old of High Green and neighbouring areas for nearly six decades after following in his father’s footsteps.
He has become something of a local hero, and has even gained a Facebook page for customers to show their appreciation with more than 1,000 fans.
Mr Ronksley told The Star he enjoyed the social side of the job and was still “very satisfied” with it.
He said: "It's just so enjoyable.
“You see different people every day.
"I used to go down with my dad five years before I started. He was at a steelworkers and used to do it as a part time job at weekends."He got me interested in ice cream.”
Starting in October 1961, the parish ice cream man has been doing his round between March and October every year.
Philip plans to remain a staple of the community for years still to come.
Coun Terry Bawden said: “He is an unassuming, grey-haired man who loves what he does.
“He enjoys interacting with the new generations, with the pet owners… actually, with everyone.
“He is so well loved around the village it was time someone recognised this gentle soul who has a kind word for everyone, young or old.”
Philip’s niece Jayne Ronksley praised the chairman of the council for giving this award.
She pointed out that he has no desire to retire, and is as hungry in the role as he was almost 60 years ago, going out in all weathers through the year.
She said: “Since March he has had just a few days off.
“Almost nothing can stop him from going out on his round.”
Online, fans have reacted to the council award, sharing memories of the ice cream van from their childhood.
Many members of the Ecclesfield community can remember the infamous ‘20p special’, a local favourite that featured a cost-effective combo of an ice-cream and a lolly together.
Lee Wildsmith said: “Absolute legend. Fantastic childhood memories for me and now my daughters. “Proper prices that everyone can afford too.”
Another long-term customer, Sue Arthur, said: “Very well deserved too.
“Congratulations to our ice cream man who used to fill my dad’s pint pot to the brim for a tanner.”
One user said: “Worrall Road salutes you sir.”
Another went even further with their appreciation: “Mr Ronksley deserves an MBE.”
It is not just the human customers that love his van, either – dogs love hearing the chimes of Philip’s van as it means they can enjoy free treats.
Philip visits the school gates of Coits Primary School in Chapeltown at 3pm as part of his round and doesn’t finish until after 8pm in an evening.
He also works weekends, meaning the role is a seven days a week job.
Mr Ronksley said: "It is long hours but it is very enjoyable”
"I couldn’t retire.”
Mr Ronksley has also thanked the people of Ecclesfield for putting him forward for the award.
“I’m going to keep on doing it a few more years”, he said.
Previous winners of the community ‘Chairman’s Award’ presented by the parish council include the wonderful Ecclesfield Library, Wheels in Motion and Chapeltown Baths.
Coun Bawden added: “Mr Ronksley is our legend, and long may he continue around High Green, Burncross and Chapeltown.”
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