An ice cream maker who is a familiar site in her van throughout the district has made it through to the finals of a national competition, which recognises those who have excelled in the industry.

Zoe Philipson, who runs Tyne Valley Ices, is a finalist in the Ice Cream Alliance’s Mobiler of the Year competition 2020.

Making her own ice cream and sauces, Zoe has also made a name for herself in the community, supporting charities such as the Great North Air Ambulance and sponsoring the Hexham FC under-15 girls team.

“For the award you need to be recognised for what you are doing within the trade,” she said. “For example, making sure you are part of the community, doing charity work and moving with the times. Ice cream is traditional, but it is important to move outside of the box. So in my van I have 15 types of flavours of sauces, whereas back in the old days you’d maybe have one or two.

“Nowadays you have to be so careful to meet everyone’s needs. I have gluten free cones, dairy free cones and vegan ice cream to make sure I cover all customer bases. The days of doing a traditional 99 are gone. You have to get involved in social media, interacting with your customers – so this year’s trend was having biscoff biscuits with everything.

Zoe started working for the family firm, set up by her dad Alan in 1974, ten years ago and covers all sorts of local events as well as parties and weddings.

For the trade industry awards in February, she will have to be interviewed by a panel and present a portfolio.

“It’s mad to think I am in the final of the Mobiler of the Year and I am the only female in the final,” she said. “It is such a male dominated industry. Everybody says, ‘ there’s the ice cream man’. No-one says ‘there’s the ice cream woman’.

Zoe is also very conscious of climate change and has got rid of plastic products like tubs, spoons and bags. “I would not say I am going to save the world, but if everyone did a little bit it would all help,” she said.