How do you find life on the road?
Well, its always a thrill to explore new places and new antiques fairs I love! The hardest thing is leaving my young family. I usually try and find them a small present if I’ve been on the road for a few days.
What is your favourite part of your role?
That’s tricky! I love meeting new people and on BH sometimes we only have a short cuppa in the Green Room with new contestants before it’s out on the shop, so its great to quickly strike up a rapport with people and have some fun. But I also love looking at antiques. I’m always learning in this business and it’s very rewarding to be able to impart a few tricks of the trade or some history to those who have only just started learning.
Why did you choose a career in antiques?
My father had his own saleroom when I was growing up so I started rummaging for treasure and sitting on the auctioneer’s rostrum, from an early age. I think a lot of the antiques business is in the blood. So many traditional dealers impart their knowledge and enthusiasm to the next generation, and so the tradition continues. My father certainly taught me how to auctioneer and command the room. My parents love antiques and quirky objects (my mother’s idea of a great Christmas present is an antique shrimping net!) and their passion has rubbed off on me. I also loved studying the craftsmanship of pieces and the history behind them.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t working in the antiques trade?
I’d probably be a barrister. I tinkered with the idea of doing Law but Fine Art won. I am sure there are some similarities though between holding forth in a courtroom and in a saleroom!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in antiques?
Handle as many objects as possible and pick the brains of every specialist that you meet. It’s such a tactile business and you can’t learn it all out of books. A saleroom is a great learning arena as there is such a fast turnover of goods.
How did you get involved in Bargain Hunt?
I was the only lady auctioneer at my local saleroom and we were a bit of a novelty then (it’s going back a bit!). So I was asked to appear on the show as the auctioneer and then quickly followed as an expert. I will never forget turning up on my first shoot in my high heels feeling very proud in my new suit but the fair we were filming at was outdoors and it rained the entire weekend. I ended up wearing Philip Serrell’s wellies which were 3 sizes too big!
Who has been your most memorable Bargain Hunt team?
That is REALLY difficult. I have made so many great contestant friends and there have been so many! I will never forget my team of Olympians though, after the 2012 Olympics. They were the most competitive team I think I have ever had.
What has been your best ever Bargain Hunt find?
Well I really try hard with all my bonus buys, they are a personal challenge and just recently I found a rather good tantalus which made well over £100 profit. But sometimes it’s the piece you least expect - like a horse racing game!
Which fairs do you particularly like shopping at when ‘bargain hunting’?
I love the Builth Well Antique Fair - it’s fairly close to home for me and set amongst the gorgeous Welsh Hills, but Westpoint at Exeter is also a great fair with lots of variety. It’s great fun for me to travel north up to the Derbyshire and Yorkshire Fairs as you meet a different bunch of dealers. The Kedleston Fair is in a stupendous setting in the grounds of the beautiful stately house.
What’s the most profit / greatest loss you’ve made at auction?
I think the greatest profit has to be several hundred pounds but I can’t remember exactly! Greatest loss, well there have been more than a few disasters, as in true BH tradition...
What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Marshmallows. Usually, I eat them secretly when the children aren’t looking, otherwise we would get through hundreds!
How do you spend your free time?
Mostly with the family, doing something outdoorsy. But I love reading and watching films. I snatch short bursts of 'me - time’ usually early in the morning in the week, when I exercise, running with our loopy labrador, or pilates. I do love a good cook whether baking or doing a big meal for family and friends. It can be a bit hit and miss with me though, and the children love reminding me of my disasters in the kitchen!
Do you collect anything?
I have an eclectic mix, whatever takes my fancy. My most recent purchase is a fabulous still life of apples by a very talented artist friend of mine, Kim Williams.
Why do you think Bargain Hunt has such appeal?
It has such a great mix of ingredients - the thrill of the treasure hunt, the fun atmosphere of the shopping and then the jeopardy and roller coaster ride of the auction with a dash of antiques facts thrown in. I think it is a winning recipe and in the all the years I have been filming it (which is a lot!) each team and each shop brings something different - which keeps it very much alive for me. It still a great challenge for us experts!
Why would you encourage anyone to appear on Bargain Hunt?
It is enormous fun! Even if you profess to have no knowledge of antiques at all, you might surprise yourself with what you spot under pressure! It is a great learning experience and you might EVEN make a profit, maybe!