July 24 2014 Latest news:
Friday, May 23, 2014
When Michael - ‘Mick the Chip’ - Ruddy first started out in the mobile fish and chips business a portion of cod and chips would set you back two and tuppence.
Forty-five years later he has decided to take his fish and chips van out of action and finally enjoy a well-deserved rest as he embarks on his retirement.
Mr Ruddy, 64, from Hepworth, will be missed by his loyal customers in the areas that he covered on his rounds, including Thurston, Bildeston and Mendlesham.
He said: “I want to thank all my customers for their support over the years. When I told them I was packing up they looked at me in amazement. They bought me wine, chocolates. I even got a joint of beef.”
Mr Ruddy said by the time he was aged 20 he had already had 13 jobs. Then he got into the fish and chips business and has never looked back.
He said he started working for Peter Harvey, who was based in Diss, and ended up buying the business from him when he developed a bad back.
Mr Ruddy, who has five children and two step-children, said his working hours used to be from 7am through to 1am the next day, but in recent years he had cut them back.
The conditions in winter could also be a challenge, he said, adding how if he got caught in a snowdrift he would have to stay in the van overnight.
He said years ago there were two coal fires on each van, but there came a time when he had to switch from coal to gas. He said his fifth van (which is pictured) used to be a library van years ago and he converted it himself.
For Mr Ruddy the best part of the job was meeting his customers.
Peter Knott and his wife Nicola, from Rattlesden, said they had bought fish and chips from Mr Ruddy all their lives. They said they would greatly miss the service and wished him “a long and happy retirement”.
Mr Knott said: “We both grew up round here. I’m in my 40s now, but when I was 15/16 I used to pop down to the end of the airfield and catch him there to get the family’s fish and chips.”
Mr Ruddy said he had already been offered another job - in fish and chips. But he said: “I said I have finished. I have had enough of it.”