Popular Banbury snack van duo make their final round after 42 years on the road

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Two women who ran a popular snack food van in Banbury have retired after 42 years of service on the road.

Best friends and neighbours Eileen Smart, 77, and Pam Sutton, 82, ran the Quik Snax van from 1982 – until last Thursday (March 28) when they parked their van up for its final time.

The two had first met when working for a solicitors in October 1965 and became known around town as the Belles of St Mary’s, due to their habit of enjoying their lunch break on the church’s grounds.

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They worked together at the solicitors firm for 10 years, before motherhood forced them to make a career change and start up Banbury’s first food delivery van.

Eileen and Pam (on the left) in 1967 when they were known as the Belles of St Mary's and now with their final van.Eileen and Pam (on the left) in 1967 when they were known as the Belles of St Mary's and now with their final van.
Eileen and Pam (on the left) in 1967 when they were known as the Belles of St Mary's and now with their final van.

Eileen said: “We first started up Quik Snax because we had just had our children and were looking for new flexible jobs we could do.

"We can’t remember who came up with the idea first but one of us suggested a sandwich van, so we purchased a campervan, which my husband altered and we trialled that for three months with it taking off straight away.

"Then we purchased our first proper van and have since worked our way through another three vans and made lots of friends over the years.”

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Eileen and Pam received flowers, bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates and many cards and thanks from staff at offices and warehouses across Banbury as well as the baker team at Morrisons whom they have been using since Malcolm’s Bakery closed in 1998.

Eileen and Pam received flowers, chocolates and bottles of wine on their final day.Eileen and Pam received flowers, chocolates and bottles of wine on their final day.
Eileen and Pam received flowers, chocolates and bottles of wine on their final day.

Pam said: “Everyone has been so kind, we have been crying all morning at the kindness of our customers.

“A lot of our customers, we have seen grow up from visiting with their parents as children to now having their own children.

"We have also seen people progress in their careers from starting at businesses to running them and have heard all of their sad and happy stories, about their marriages and about their children.”

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The pair prepared the hot and cold food every morning on the van, using no prepacked food at all and gaining a fantastic reputation for their bacon rolls and friendly chit chat.

Eileen and Pam surrounded by flowers and chocolates on their final day with Quik Snax.Eileen and Pam surrounded by flowers and chocolates on their final day with Quik Snax.
Eileen and Pam surrounded by flowers and chocolates on their final day with Quik Snax.

When asked whether they would miss their job for over 40 years, they said: “Yes, we will miss the people. All of the laughter and the chatting and hearing about people’s lives.

"Many of the customers have also told us that we will be sadly missed not just for the food but for how we have looked after them over the years and become friends.

"We are going to keep in touch with as many of them as possible and go and visit the businesses every so often when we can.”

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For retirement, Pam will spend her time looking after her husband who has sadly got dementia and Eileen will enjoy spending time with her family and take some well-deserved holidays.

They said: "We would like to thank all of our lovely customers for the gifts they have given to us and the support throughout the years.”

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