King of Cones: Special report by Ron Cant
MORE than 200 friends poignantly filled the grassy dunes around Llanelli’s North Dock to bid a last farewell to a popular ice cream man dubbed “King of Cones.”
Mark Edwards brought smiles to generations of children with his wicked sense of fun and antics from both his ice cream vans about the town and kiosk at Llanelli’s North Dock, part of the former Discovery Centre.
Mark cruelly lost a bravely fought battle with cancer in the last month aged 60.
Children among the funeral crowd bidding farewell released heart shaped balloons over the hearse decorated with ice-cream cone shaped floral tributes as it stopped in a poignant last visit at the kiosk Mark ran with his wife Angela and family for nearly two decades.
The couple started in business with two ice cream vans and became known to thousands of children during lunch breaks at Coedcae and Bryngwyn Schools and Pembrey Country Park on hot summer days.
Many of the children had their hoodies and pockets filled with nuts, hundreds and thousands and marshmallows after banter with Mark who had a Pied Piper following with legions of kids because of his sense of fun.
A former work colleague at an adjacent business, Flanagan’s, also within the Discovery Centre (now re-named St Elli’s Bay) at the North Dock, Gill Stirling, said: “Mark was an absolute star. He was one in a million. In 14-years we never had a cross word while running our businesses. He was loved by everyone.
“He’d dress up as Father Christmas for us some years and had a fantastic rapport with children all year round. Kids would come to the kiosk with just a button to pay but they would still get an ice cream cone. He had a heart of gold and will be hugely missed.”
Clive Beynon travelled from Maesteg to pay his respects. “I’ve travelled with my kids, grandchildren and dogs most weekends for years to the kiosk to see Mark and Angela and their amazing choice of 30 or more flavours of ice-cream.
“He truly was the King of Cones and so much fun. He always found time for friendly banter even when queues for his icy treats were round the block.
“I first started visiting in 2010 after reading about Mark in the national newspapers about his selling a cleverly named K-99 cone at his kiosk for dogs. It had special dog friendly chocolate finger flakes. My dogs loved the trip especially getting Mark to feed them their treat!”
Close friend Sue Thomas said: “Mark was a gentleman and charmer and always immaculately dressed usually in Italian shirts. My husband and I went on many holidays with Angela and Mark who was always smiling. It’s a shame you couldn’t bottle his laugh-a-minute style. We’ll miss him so much.”
Grieving wife Angela said they came up with many promotional ideas at the North Dock kiosk including establishing an indoor American style ice cream diner there that became an all-year-round all-weather attraction.
“You never knew who would pop up in the queues waiting for their ice-cream treat. We have served everyone from former glamour model Melinda Messenger to a Fedora hatted Tom Jones and even created a special ice cream for Llanelli’s Olympics hurdling star Dai Green.
“There are so many happy memories. Sadly it has all ended so cruelly. Our lease on the kiosk expired on February 18th just two days after Mark’s funeral. We have made many attempts to seek an extension while Mark bravely batted his illness in the hope of allowing the family a chance to continue with the business he created.
“I’ve not only lost Mark but now also all the goodwill we built up together in the business. It will be difficult to live without the man I have never spent a day apart from in 40 years.
“But I am finding strength in all the many wonderful tributes people continue to make. He was so well loved. “As one friend wrote on a card which I will always treasure,” King Cone Mark the ice-cream man melted many hearts, but his memory will never melt away.”