First person from NI scoops Ice Cream Van of the Year

Northern Ireland’s Jimmy Robinson, owner of Robinsons Ice Cream has won Ice Cream Van of the Year 2021.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 1:33 pm
Jimmy Robinson has won Ice Cream Van of the Year 2021

The competition is held every year by the trade association for the ice cream sector for the UK and Ireland, the Ice Cream Alliance.

Jimmy has three vans and three trailers operating in and around Craigavon, Portadown and Lurgan and in parks in Lisburn and Belfast. He is the first winner from the island of Ireland in the 43 years of the competition.

“This is an absolutely fantastic honour and I’m delighted,” said Jimmy. “I have spent 36 years running and growing this business and all the hard work has paid off. And it’s a family effort with both my sons, my wife Carmel and my brother-in-law all working with me.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jimmy is the third generation of his family to sell ice cream. It started in the 1950s when his grandmother Cora arrived in Northern Ireland from Lucca in Tuscany to make and sell her ice cream. In the 1960s his father (also called Jimmy) took the business over followed by his brother Michael. Today he employs 11 people, both full and part time.

Jimmy was a full-time Irish International table tennis player and coach when in 1985 his father persuaded to him to change direction.

He continued: “Dad helped me buy a CF Bedford van for £800 and we turned it into a makeshift ice cream van with a pop on roof and old fridge. I still remember my first day out and how much I loved it, being my own boss. I even remember, my takings of £76, and thinking this was great.

“Promoting Robinson’s Ice Cream is important to me. It’s been more important than ever with Covid-19. We were was one of the first operators in Northern Ireland to Covid-proof our entire operation to ensure the safety of staff and customers with the erection of screens, providing PPE to staff, and ensuring social distancing at our park sites with the inclusion of hand sanitizing stations. Winning Ice Cream Van of the Year makes all that hard work worthwhile.”

Ice Cream Van of the Year, known as the Mobiler of the Year, is awarded annually. Entrants are judged on a raft of business attributes and are whittled down to three finalists who are interviewed by a panel of ice cream industry experts – this year undertaken via Zoom. In a tight three-way contest Jimmy won because of his passion for the business and the service he provides, his work in the community and his high standards across everything from health and hygiene to presentation.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.

You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Thank you