NICKY Meola, who has been selling ice cream on the streets of Stalybridge and Mossley for more than 50 years, fears what the future holds.
After estimated sales of 2.5million ice creams, the 72-year-old grandfather, who has a pitch in Stamford Park, Stalybridge, admits trading conditions are tough for Stalybridge-based Faircloughs.
Looking ahead to the next half century, Nicky said: “The way things are going there will be no ice cream vans left as street trade has already died.
“It is changing times and competition from supermarkets who sell ice cream cheaper than we can buy them.”
Nicky, who has handed over his business to sons Bruno and Max, has no intention of retiring and at weekends can be found in Stamford Park where he has been serving ice cream for more than 30 years.
He said: “I spent 35 years on the streets of Stalybridge and Mossley, but finished that four years ago.
“I cannot see myself ever retiring as it has been my life. I think the day I finish, I will pop off. Some of the children I used to serve now have their own kids and they are like family.
“It is great to laugh and joke with the children. The most important thing is to look after them and get their trust.
“If I child doesn’t have enough money I won’t let them leave empty handed and in tears.”
Nicky, who was recently spotlighted on Granada Reports, admitted there has been massive changes since he began selling ice cream in the mid 1960s.
He explained: “In those days it was just Teddy Bear, Vimto, orange and lemonade lollies and ice creams.
“Today you would need a bus if you were to carry the whole selection of things you can buy!”
While many things have changed, Nicky added the recipe for the ice cream hasn’t altered.
“It is the same recipe and a secret – I won’t tell you what it is,” explained Nicky who added Faircloughs’ ice cream is made in Warrington.
Faircloughs, who have four vans and three trailers, have diversified as they can be hired for birthday properties, weddings and christenings.
The company was formed in the early 1900s and owned originally by Goddards who also used to have ice cream kiosks in Ashton and Stalybridge.
Nicky, who initially worked for Faircloughs, bought the business more than 30 years ago and has now handed it to his sons.
As an Italian – Nicky was born in Caserta, 60 miles from Rome – perhaps it was inevitable he became an ice cream seller.
But after leaving school aged 14 he initially drove a mechanical digger.
Nicky moved to England initially based in Huddersfield where he worked for ice-cream firm Mr Softee.
He soon moved to be closer to family in Denton and switched to working for Faircloughs in 1965 with Stalybridge and Mossley quickly becoming his adopted home.