Fundraising for St John’s hospice in memory of Biggleswade ice-cream man John

Tributes have been pouring in for a kind-hearted ice-cream man who was famous in the town for the ‘Biggleswade Special’.
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John Ford, 74, died at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, Moggerhanger, on May 25 following a brave battle with terminal cancer.

To say thank you to the kind staff, John’s son and fellow ice-cream man James, is now on a mission to raise money for the hospice and would love to reach the £1,000 mark.

James has been posting the news about his father on social media and has been touched by the outpouring of love for his dad and his Biggleswade Special - a rocket lolly on top of an ice-cream.

Clockwise from top left: John Ford; John and James; John and Jane with James, Sonya, and Jack; the Biggleswade SpecialClockwise from top left: John Ford; John and James; John and Jane with James, Sonya, and Jack; the Biggleswade Special
Clockwise from top left: John Ford; John and James; John and Jane with James, Sonya, and Jack; the Biggleswade Special

James said: “I can remember going out when I was a kid with my dad and I was amazed how everyone knew John and The Biggleswade Special.

“Even last year a group of adults came up to me and asked for one; it’s amazing that 30 years on something that my dad did is still talked about.”

John was “a Bedford boy” but Biggleswade always held a special place in his heart because he met his wife Jane in the Market Square in 1973.

The pair were married in St Andrew’s Church in 1979 and John sold ice-cream in the town from 1971-1991.

James and Jane support Sue RyderJames and Jane support Sue Ryder
James and Jane support Sue Ryder

James said: “He was funny, he was caring - he was always letting the kids off 10 or 20p or giving them a free ice-cream.

“In 1978 when there was a sugar crisis he managed to get hold of some for people; I take after him in helping others. He was just amazing.”

John had fought bowel cancer in 2006, but in August 2019 he received the devastating news that the cancer had returned in three places.

The retired businessman spent his final days at St John’s Hospice and James said his goodbyes via an internet link on May 25.

A Sue Ryder St John's Hospice member with the ice-creamsA Sue Ryder St John's Hospice member with the ice-creams
A Sue Ryder St John's Hospice member with the ice-creams

James said: “All I can say is a massive thank you to St John’s; I really applaud what they do.

“One of the last things my dad said to me was ‘just be a better person’. I want to give something back. The care and the way they are is just brilliant.”

James, who is continuing the family business, Mr Ice Cream Man, is planning to visit Biggleswade Market Square soon to help raise funds with Biggleswade Specials.

John leaves behind his wife Jane, sons James and Bradley, daughter Louise and grandchildren Jack, Jacob, Paige, Ezzy (Esme) and Isla.

To say thank you to St John’s, James delivered ice-creams to the staff.

Helen Kingston, Community Fundraising Officer at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, said, “Thank you so much to James and his family for supporting our hospice.

“It is an honour to be there when it matters for local families such as theirs.

“The funds raised will help to make sure our Sue Ryder Nurses and healthcare team can continue to offer our care and support people through the most difficult times of their lives. Thank you too for donating the delicious ice creams to our staff, which were much appreciated and really helped to brighten everyone’s day.”