A PHOTO in her family album shows Lorna Campbell during a primary school visit to Capaldi’s ice-cream factory at Brora.
Little did Lorna dream than that she would eventually own the business.
For the enterprising 25-year-old has just purchased Capaldi’s of Brora from Inverness based bakers Harry Gow.
The bakery firm have owned it for the past 12 years after buying the business from previous operator Michael Small.
The sale means the business is once again being run entirely from Brora.
A delighted Lorna, who has worked for Harry Gow since she left school, now has big plans for the future of the long-standing manufacturing operation.
She hopes to grow its customer base and possibly create new jobs.
She said: “The future of Capaldi’s looks very bright.”
And she has paid tribute to Highland Opportunities, Business Gateway and the Gow family for their help and support.
She said: “Without their assistance and support it simply would not have happened.”She also paid tribute to her parents, Ian & Marie Campbell from the Doll for all of their encouragement.
A former Brora primary and Golspie High School pupil, Lorna began working full-time at Harry Gow’s Brora shop on leaving school, rising to become under manager.
She was also involved with the production of ice-cream at the Brora Industrial Estate factory.
Three years ago she left Gow’s and started up her own business operating an ice-cream van in the East Sutherland area.
But in June 2016, opportunity just happened to knock at her door.
She said: “I was sitting at home when I got a phone call from David Gow (managing director Harry Gow). He asked me what I thought about owning Capaldi’s.
“I could not believe what I was hearing – it was completely out of the blue and came as a bit of a shock! It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I definitely wanted to do it – I just had to find the money.”
Lorna said she has received help from Highland Opportunity and Business Gateway as well as making a personal contribution herself.
She officially took over the manufacture and sale of all ice cream products at Capaldi’s on June 16.
She said: “We just went down to Inverness to sign the relevant documents but then had a small family party to celebrate.”
Lorna is currently working at the factory on her own producing around 860 litres of ice-cream a week. At the height of production, the factory had a six-strong staff.
Her sister, Fiona, is taking over the running of the ice-cream van.
The secret of Capaldi’s success – its ice-cream recipe – is locked away.
Lorna said: “Not even my family knows the recipe - I can’t go giving away the secret!”
Future plans include building up the variety of flavours on offer – in its hey-day Capaldi’s offered around 35 different flavours but in recent years that has dropped to around 12.
Also on the cards is the reintroduction of popular ice-cream cakes.
Lorna said: “I would also like to reintroduce the primary school tours of the factory, which I took part in myself and enjoyed – my favourite part being the ice-cream sampling at the end of the tour!”
She added: “Capaldi’s ice-cream will be available from many outlets throughout the Highlands, not forgetting the Munch Box ice-cream van.”
Former Capaldi’s owner Michael Small, who lives in Brora, has sent Lorna his best wishes.
He said: “I was delighted to hear that Lorna has bought the ice cream business from Harry Gow.
“It is encouraging to know that a local person is taking over the manufacturing of Capaldi’s ice cream and I wish her all success for the future.
“I hope she will enjoy this experience as much as I did over the 21 years we ran Capaldi’s.”
Jane McIntosh, Harry Gow’s daughter and a company director, said: “We have seen significant growth in our bakery business over the last few years.
“We now feel that it is important that Capaldi’s should be taken on by someone who is in a position to focus all their attention and effort on that business.
“As a family, it has always been our main concern that everything we produce is of the highest quality.
“We approached Lorna about taking on the Capaldi
business because we knew that, with all her enthusiasm and experience in the production of Capaldi’s ice-cream, she would be the ideal person.
“We know she will continue to produce great ice-cream and give excellent customer service.
“Harry Gow’s will continue to sell Capaldi’s Ice Cream from our Brora and Dornoch shops.”
It was Bernardo Capaldi from Picinisco in Italy who brought ice-cream to Brora. He emigrated to Scotland in 1922, first opening an ice-cream parlour in Edinburgh and later moving north to open in Kingussie.
In 1929 he bought a shop in Brora for his son, Alfredo. After Alfredo died, his brother Victor ran the shop until retiring through ill health in 1983 when it was bought by Michael Small.
The Italian ice-cream recipe remains the original one handed down by Bernardo Capalidi more almost a century ago.
The amount of air added to the mix is strictly limited so that a rich, dense taste is maintained.