SOUTHEND author Patricia Volante - who wrote her debut book about the Rossi family - will appear on tomorrow tonight's BBC 2 episode of Great British Railway Journeys presented by Michael Portillo.

In the show the famous broadcaster and former Conservative politician stops off in Southend en route from Limehouse to Rochford to chat on camera to Patricia about the ice cream dynasty.

Patricia, who is married into the Rossi family, initially wrote the book with the intention of having it printed as a private account for her kith and kin. However, after approaching publisher Estuary Publishing who she mistakenly thought was a printer, she was encouraged to have the book published.

Rossi’s - The Story of Southend’s Favourite Ice Cream - is a story of "guts and determination of a young Italian family which faced prejudice and hardship along the way".

It tells how the extension of the railways to Southend coincided with the arrival of Agostino Rossi, who visited on a busy and hot bank holiday August and saw there weren’t any ice cream shops.

Agostino had a business in Glasgow but instantly could see that it made sense to move his business and family to the warmer and busier resort of Southend, which he did in 1930.

Mrs Volante said: “It was an exciting experience just to meet, let alone chat, with Michael Portillo, who was charming and seemed genuinely interested in the story.

“I am surprised but also delighted by the amount of interest the book has generated. The story is one that will resonate with many other families of immigrants.”

Director of Estuary Publishing, Audrey Snee, added: "It is a heart warming saga that intrigued Michael Portillo who interviewed Patricia in the Rossi ice cream parlour on Westcliff seafront.

"Filming also took place at the Rossi factory and on the pier where he gave ice creams to visitors.

“We have a signed copy of Rossi’s by Michael Portillo which will be going up for auction soon to raise money for local charity.”

The documentary series in which Michael travels the length and breadth of the country by train is now in its 11th series and attracts over 1.8 million viewers.

The Rossi’s book was previously also featured on a BBC Radio 4 show From Our Home Correspondent which has 1 million listeners worldwide.

The programme airs tomorrow - Tuesday January 21, at 6.30pm on BBC2 and will be available shortly on iPlayer.

Rossi’s The Story of Southend’s Favourite Ice Cream is available to buy from and all good booksellers.

It is also available to loan from the Forum Library.