When a Bognor Regis based Covid-19 healthcare assistant and her husband were reunited with their children on Monday (22 June) the occasion had bells on – ice cream van bells.
On May 16, Katy Alston (AKA Mrs Whippy) of Pinks ice cream Parlour in Bognor Regis served a grandmother, Alison Deacon, who was accompanied by her husband Tony and their three young grandchildren; Sophia eight, Ruby seven and Laiton three.
Alison told Mrs Whippy that since the start of the pandemic they had taken over care of the children, because their daughter-in-law, Jess, was working on the St Richards Hospital Covid-19 unit.
Learning that Laiton is a poor sleeper, and that Sophia has severe asthma, and that the children were desperately missed their parents, Katy observed that while the couple looked very tired, the whole family had the most incredible smiles, reminding the former nurse of just how much everyone was pulling together to try and defeat coronavirus.
Hugely touched by the family’s story, Mrs Whippy resolved to track them down before Father’s Day so she could give them all an ice cream treat. Turning to social media, she recounted the story, hoping that someone would know the family and put her in touch. Within hours she was talking to Jess Deacon, the mother in question.
Mrs Whippy said: “I was so delighted to find Jess and also to learn that the family will be reunited on Monday. Family means everything to us at Pinks. I am lucky enough to live with and care for my elderly father. I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents and grandparents that have been apart. What Jess has done for our community and what her parents-in-law have done to support her is heart-warming.
“There was so much kindness and community spirit when the Covid-19 crisis first hit, but I am worried that we are starting to lose that a bit. This is why I’ll be delivering Father’s Day packs to Grandfather Tony and Dad Chris, and also taking the ice cream van to the family home on Monday. To serve them some celebratory treats as they are reunited will be my absolute privilege.”
Jess said: “For Chris and I it was a heartbreakingly difficult decision. I had to keep my children safe, but it was also important for me to do the job that I signed up to do.
“We are so lucky that Alison and Tony stepped up and helped us and we are so grateful to them. We can’t wait to see the children on Monday. We missed two of their birthdays while we were separated so it will be an extra special reunion.”
Photo by Global Photography