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Ice cream boss scoops a cool half century of shows

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 01, 2013

By Phil Goodwin

  • Philip Kelly is celebrating 50 years of selling ice cream at the Royal Cornwall Show. Picture: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

  • Philip Kelly's Italian grandfather, Lazzaro Calicchio, selling ice cream just after the First World War

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The head of an ice-cream dynasty which has traded in Cornwall since Victorian times is to clock up a half-century of appearances at the county show.

The Beatles would have been blaring out of showground radios, with their Number one single From Me To You when Philip Kelly sold his first scoop of ice cream at the Royal Cornwall Show.

Next month, the 64-year-old will continue a tradition which has seen the Bodmin-based firm dispense cones and lollies to parched show crowds as far back as 1947.

He fondly and clearly remembers his first visit, working for his father and uncles on the vans.

And this year he will be back in familiar surroundings, serving from a painstakingly restored Commer van – just like 50 years ago.

"We had introduced our own soft ice cream by then and it was proving very popular," he recalled.

"There were several different makes of van in the fleet but it was based on Commers, which were often used for ice-cream vans."

Kelly's began life in the 1890s when Philip's Italian great grandfather founded the business selling ice cream and fish and chips from a horse-driven cart in St Austell, trading as Stafferi.

However, Philip's grandfather, Lazzero Calicchia, relaunched it as a mobile business in 1918, using a horse and cart, and in the late 1930s the name was changed to Kelly's. Over the years, the Kelly's fleet has expanded and even includes a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Now a household name, the manufacturing side was sold in 2008, but the Kelly's of Bodmin retail operation is unchanged, and in keeping with tradition, this year's Royal Cornwall Show will again be a family affair.

"It is always busy for us and all the family tend to get involved," Philip added. "My wife Tina will be there and three of my sisters.

"I'll be on the show ground and around all the vans at some time – the guys need relief so I will do my stint.

"We all really enjoy the show, although it is always hard work. The atmosphere is great and you bump into people there you maybe only see once a year.

"It's not just about business. For us it's fun and that's why we love being there."

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