A WELL-KNOWN award-winning York ice-cream man is retiring after 62 years at the age of 80.

Alf Douglass, or Curly as he’s affectionately known, has been selling ice-cream in the Acomb, Dringhouses and Chapelfields areas of York, for decades and says that it’s with a very heavy heart that he’s having to give up.

Alf, who lives in Tadcaster, with his wife Christine, said: “My wife and daughter have been pushing for me to retire for the last two years and I have refused to give in. I was already to go back out on the round in March, but then coronavirus came along and because I’m 80, and in the age bracket where you have to be careful, I couldn’t do it. I had just had the van MOTed and serviced and then the lockdown came.

“Many of my customers were just children back in 1958 when I started and are now grandparents. It has been a great joy to serve them for all these years watching them grow up, and bringing their children out to meet me for their 1st cone - free of charge.

“Since I told people on Facebook that I’m retiring, I’ve had some wonderful messages and I’ve shed a few tears reading them.”

Alf was voted the UK’s best ice-cream man by the Ice-Cream Alliance back in 2003 and has been in The Press many times over the years.

Not least of these was in 2005 when word got round that Alf had died and his grief-stricken customers sent messages of condolence to his family, and a collection was even held to buy flowers for his funeral.

It happened after Alf was treated by doctors at York Hospital for a ruptured abscess in his stomach. Reports of demise had been greatly exaggerated, and he had actually made a full recovery after a life-saving operation.

Alf said: “I remember that incident well. One of my customers said, ‘next time this happens I’m going to make sure you get cremated, because I put money in that pot!’ In the end the money they raised was gifted to York Hospital.”

Alf’s van and round are now up for sale. The number to call is 07770748324 for John Hornsby.