Ice cream maker scoops top award
Northern Ireland's best-known ice cream makers have scooped the industry's top UK award after more than 100 years in the business.
The trade body for the £1 billion-a-year ice cream industry named the Morelli family as the Champion of Champions, topping a century of success. It was the first time the company had taken ice cream's highest accolade and represented a sweet victory for a family whose business started four generations ago.
Arnaldo Morelli, whose great uncle Pietro started the firm, said: "This is the ultimate honour - we are all so proud."
He recounted how his ancestor brought the recipe for success from Italy, before helping establish the family's famous seafront ice cream parlours in Portstewart and Portrush.
"He arrived in 1911 and set up a business in Coleraine," said Arnaldo.
"He started with a fish and chip shop, and ice cream. And then he got the opportunity to open in Portrush and Portstewart."
The business has created hundreds of ice cream flavours over the years, but it was its vanilla that took the title. The firm now has a string of family-owned stores and franchises in Northern Ireland and in Co Donegal.
The competition is organised by The Ice Cream Alliance which represents more than 650 businesses in Britain and Ireland.
Two Champion of Champion titles are awarded, with one going to the best vanilla and the other going to the best flavoured ice cream. Ryeburn, of Helmsley in North Yorkshire, won for its Nutella-flavoured ice cream.
David Otterburn, whose family switched from dairy farming to enter the ice cream trade, said: "This is a wonderful result for us. We have been trying to get to this stage for 25 years and now it has actually happened I really can't believe it."