Cherished employee at iconic ice-cream factory in Northampton retires after 50 'wonderful' years
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A cherished figure at an iconic ice-cream factory in Northampton has officially retired after dedicating 50 ‘wonderful’ years of his life to crafting delicious ice cream.
Peter Fenlon, aged 60, has hung up his ice-cream scooper for the final time at the Gallone’s ice-cream factory in Kingsthorpe.
The soon to be 61-year-old started working at the site in 1973, sweeping the yard ‘for a few quid’ when he was 11.
50 years later and Peter is, according to boss Aldo Gallone, a ‘wealth of knowledge’ in the manufacturing side of the industry.
Peter said: “I’ve been there from a boy to a man. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. It’s the only thing I know. It’s over half my life, and I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything else.
"I’ve worked under three different generations of the Gallone family. They saw me as part of the family; I’ve felt that my whole career. I’ve felt valued. That’s why I spent 50 years here. The Gallones have been good to me. They looked after me; Italians are very family-orientated people.”
Painting a picture of what it was like when he started back in 1973, Peter said: “I came from quite a poor family and if you wanted a bit of extra money you had to work for it. I went into Gallone’s and I used to sweep the yard and they gave me a few quid. Then, I left school and the boss said, ‘What are you going to do?’. I said, ‘I’ll make ice-cream if you’ll have me!’. And I’ve been here ever since.
"I’ve mainly been doing the ice-cream manufacturing and inventing new flavours during my career. The manufacturing side of it, there’s a lot more to it than what people think!”
After four heart attacks since the age of 38, Peter said he felt now the time was right to call it a day on his career.
He said: “I’ve not been in fantastic health. I thought I’d call it a day and enjoy whatever life I’ve got left. I still felt like I wanted to go on but you’ve got to weigh things up. I‘d rather die on a beach somewhere than at the ice-cream factory!”
A surprise retirement party attended by nearly 60 people was organised to honour Peter's five decades of dedication. He was deeply touched by the gesture, saying: "I’ve got to take my hat off to them all for keeping it secret! It was a fantastic surprise leaving party. I felt special. I felt like number one! Little me felt like number one for a few hours. It was a brilliant party with brilliant people.”
He added: “I’ve had a good life. It’s been hard work. It’s not been easy. But it’s what I like. I’ve enjoyed it. The party was so fitting.”
Boss Aldo Gallone said: “I’ve known Peter most of my life. It hasn’t been easy to say goodbye. He’s more of a member of the family than an employee. He’s a wealth of knowledge that’s left the building. He’s been wonderful all the way through.”
Peter says his post-retirement plans are to explore various parts of the UK he has never visited.