Sheffield ice cream seller’s faithful van joins funeral procession

Tom Jennett
Tom Jennett

Family and friends have said goodbye to one of Sheffield’s best-loved ice cream sellers – with his faithful van part of his funeral procession.

John Thomas Jennett, known to everyone as Tom, was a bomb disposal expert during World War II and then worked as an ice cream seller until he was 85.

Tom Jennett in his ice-cream van

Tom Jennett in his ice-cream van

He worked in parks around the city, particularly in Hillsborough Park where he was well-known.

The dad-of-four, of Wybourn, died at Hazeldene Nursing Home aged 90 and his family arranged a special send-off for him.

His funeral procession on Friday involved a horse and carriage and his old ice cream van, which had a special banner attached by his family saying ‘Fly Safe Tom’.

It passed by his former workplace Granelli’s on the way to City Road Crematorium, with his former colleagues coming out of the sweet shop to pay their respects before following the procession to the funeral.

The funeral procession of Tom Jennett down Broad Street past Granelli's, where he used to sell ice cream. Picture: Andrew Roe

The funeral procession of Tom Jennett down Broad Street past Granelli's, where he used to sell ice cream. Picture: Andrew Roe

His daughter Kathryn Jennett said her dad had an interesting life, working in bomb disposal in the war and getting married to wife Phyllis in 1944 aged 20. They went on to have four children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

After the war he worked in the steel industry before starting his career as an ice-cream salesman.

Tom had a great passion for travelling and would take his family on holidays to Australia, India and Hong Kong.

Kathryn said: “He was so fun-loving and had a great life. He had many holidays and he just liked to go to nice places.”

She said she had come up with the idea for the special send-off involving his old ice cream van and thanked funeral directors W Simpson and Son. She said: “I thought he has got to 90 years old and not many people work until they are 85.

“There are many people in Sheffield who know him.”

Granelli’s owner Rosita Hunt said Tom had worked for the firm for 45 years.

She said his son and wife have also worked for the firm in the past and Tom became part of the Granelli’s ‘family’.

“He came here part time while he had another job in the steel industry,” she said.

“He eventually came here full time and he was in the parks. He worked until he was about 86 and he used to do seven days a week.

“He was really one of the old school. He was very nice, very obliging, a good worker and would do anything for you. When he was in the parks, he got to know people so well. If he had a day off, people would say ‘Where is Tom?’ Everybody knew him and he was very well-liked.

“He was a really good man and they don’t come like him much these days. He went beyond the call of duty and he was part of the family after all those years.”