An ice little number for an entrepreneur

Hilary Gardener and her vintage ice cream van in Berkhamsted. The customers are her children Isabella, 12, and Alfie, nine.
Hilary Gardener and her vintage ice cream van in Berkhamsted. The customers are her children Isabella, 12, and Alfie, nine.

THE owner of window-cleaning firm Ladies With Ladders has branched out into cold snacks by snapping up a vintage ice cream truck.

Hilary Gardener, 43, of South Park Gardens, Berkhamsted, set up her first firm six years ago after leaving a job in nursing.

She said: “I was quite senior in the nursing world, but while my three children were young, I realised I could not keep up with it all.

“Then my window-cleaner came round and said, ‘That will be £20,’ and I thought, ‘I can do that.’

“Everyone seems to trust female window-cleaners and within six months, I had 400 houses on my books. It only cost me £300 in business start-up costs.”

It was such a success that a year later her husband Steve Atkinson, 49, left his job as a production manager to join her firm. It was then renamed Ladies and Lads With Ladders.

But Hilary said: “We needed something to help us through the winter. I was looking around for ideas and saw a classified ad for a vintage ice cream van.

“I just fell in love it and the winter idea went out of the window.”

She bought it for £7,000 and now ‘Elsie’ will serve her first ice creams at two school fetes this weekend.