Berkhamsted businesswoman pleas for peace after Radio 2 ice cream turf wars feature

Hilary Gardener with her ice cream van and tricycle during happier times.
Hilary Gardener with her ice cream van and tricycle during happier times.

The owner of a vintage ice cream van is scared a rival may come after her after she spoke out on Radio 2 against intimidating business tactics.

Hilary Gardener appeared on The Jeremy Vine Show today during a piece about new guidelines that have been published to stop turf wars between ice cream vans.

The 45-year-old, of South Park Gardens, Berkhamsted, launched the business Elsie’s Ices last year after buying a 1972 ice cream van.

It is rented out for private functions such as weddings, parties and charity events. Hilary wears a 1950s pinny and pink frilly hat while serving ice cream from a bunting-clad Elsie – the name for her ice cream van.

Talking about her rival on the show, she said: “This is not Glasgow. This is middle-class suburbia Berkhamsted. I have been at an event, and he has come up to my window and said he should have been invited, not me. I am in the wrong place. You should not have been invited.

“It is an invitation. I was invited. It is on private grounds and the last time I was firmly told through my window, ‘You do not know what trouble you are getting yourself into.’

“If it was not so scary, it would be comical. We are talking about a big burly man talking to a 45-year-old woman wearing a pink frilly hat.”

But speaking to this website after the show, she said she regretted speaking out publicly and that further coverage of her comments would be ‘destructive’ to both businesses.

She said: “Both parties have a place on the market and I do not want to say or do anything that could be hurtful or damaging to either party.

“There’s no need to cause any local upset.”

She said her comments were meant to be joke, aimed at generating publicity for her business.

She added: “I am worried about what happens from here because I do not want any ice cream man coming round here getting angry with me, because they think I am being negative about them.

“I am scared that this hornet’s nest is being stirred up.”

You can listen to Hilary on the show by clicking here – she begins talking after about 50 minutes