Go­ing, go­ing places

Award-win­ning auc­tion­eer Debs Latham from Hart­ford, re­veals the se­crets of her suc­cess and her de­ter­mi­na­tion to achieve even more Cheshire Life: Fe­bru­ary 2019 Cheshire Life: Fe­bru­ary 2019 69

Cheshire Life - - Society - Mairead Ma­hon

It’s never too late to try some­thing new and be suc­cess­ful in it, says Debs Latham, who, at the age of 48, has just been awarded the pres­ti­gious NAVA Novice Auc­tion­eer of the Year and who is now Head of Res­i­den­tial Auc­tions (North West) at SDL Auc­tions.

In or­der to win the prize, one of the lots that Debs had to auc­tion was a stuffed buz­zard.

‘Well, it’s cer­tainly not your ev­ery­day lot,’ laughs Debs, from Hart­ford, near North­wich, who is more used to auc­tion­ing prop­erty but who used the brief win­dow she was given, be­fore as­cend­ing the podium, to find out what she could about the es­o­teric sub­ject of stuffed buz­zards: sur­pris­ingly, there was quite a bit out there.

‘Ap­par­ently, keep­ing a buz­zard was a sta­tus sym­bol. It was an ex­pen­sive pur­chase and so when it died, there was a craze for stuff­ing them,’ laughs Debs who man­aged to get the auc­tion bids, if not the buz­zard, fly­ing high; es­pe­cially grat­i­fy­ing as all money raised went to Pil­grims’ Hospices.

Other lots in­cluded a Red Let­ter Day ex­pe­ri­ence, which she sold for many times its face value and which all helped her to win the ti­tle, a rose bowl and a prized gavel.

‘The rose bowl has to be handed back at the end of the year but the gavel is mine to keep and like every other auc­tion­eer on the planet, that gavel is only to be touched by me! We’re all a bit pre­cious about our gavel and ob­vi­ously mine is pretty spe­cial

as I won it,’ smiles Debs, who was the old­est can­di­date in the com­pe­ti­tion...not that she al­lowed that to put her off.

‘Why should it? It was nerve wrack­ing but it was also ex­hil­a­rat­ing and gave me a chance to show just what I could do. Be­sides, I’m a sin­gle mum to two girls and I’m rais­ing them to un­der­stand that if you want some­thing then at least have a go at it. I’d watched pro­grammes such as ‘Homes Un­der the Ham­mer’, a bit of fun but I be­came in­trigued. Be­com­ing an auc­tion­eer could have re­mained a pipe dream. I could have told my­self that I was too old, that I was a sin­gle mum but I was de­ter­mined so, armed with a pair of comfy shoes - the auc­tion­eer’s friend- and a dream, I took steps to achieve it,’ says Debs.

Debs, who has an English Lit­er­a­ture de­gree, be­gan work­ing life as an air traf­fic con­troller - a good ground­ing she points out as, once you’ve been re­spon­si­ble for hun­dreds of lives, noth­ing can faze you. But Debs also had a cou­ple of other se­cret weapons in her ar­moury. One was her voice - im­por­tant for an auc­tion­eer. She is a trained so­prano and knows how to project with­out be­ing shrill or blar­ing - and the other was her ab­so­lute de­ter­mi­na­tion, which had al­ready brought her con­sid­er­able suc­cess.

‘When my el­dest child was a tod­dler she con­tracted menin­gi­tis. At the time, there wasn’t wide ac­cess to the in­ter­net and who can keep a cool head when faced with a very poorly in­fant so I es­tab­lished, “Lit­tle An­gels First Aid for Ba­bies and Chil­dren CD”, which par­ents could lis­ten to at any time, as­sim­i­lat­ing in­for­ma­tion that would come in use­ful if the need arose. It was hugely suc­cess­ful, I had tonnes of let­ters from par­ents and when I even­tu­ally sold it, I felt that I’d achieved some­thing re­ally worth­while.’

Debs -never idle- then bought a boat and took her fam­ily, in­clud­ing her par­ents, to the Isle of Wight, where she be­gan an award win­ning hol­i­day rental agency be­fore re­turn­ing to Cheshire - par­ents too - and be­com­ing a star in the world of auc­tion­eer­ing.

‘I ab­so­lutely love it. Prop­erty auc­tions are on the rise in Cheshire and I love meet­ing peo­ple, look­ing at their homes, guid­ing them through the process and fi­nally con­duct­ing the auc­tion. I don’t think I’ll have an­other ca­reer change but that said, I do want to write a book that ex­plores self-be­lief. I have hun­dreds of self-help books at home. They’ve re­ally helped me: for ex­am­ple, I prac­tise self-hyp­no­sis and pos­i­tive vi­su­al­i­sa­tion. I think my book might be aimed at women be­cause we can lose con­fi­dence, es­pe­cially if we take time out to have chil­dren or feel we’re get­ting a bit older, but there is no need for it. We have so much to give,’ says Debs.

It might be rea­son­able to sup­pose that Debs, with her high pro­file ca­reer and young daugh­ters, has lit­tle time to re­lax, but that’s not the case.

‘I’m plan­ning to swim the equiv­a­lent of the chan­nel for char­ity - I’ve al­ready swum the So­lent - and I love to cook and en­ter­tain. Maybe as a con­se­quence of that love of food, I spend a lot of time at the gym and I love crafts. I make a lot of my own clothes and I also like to paint.

‘I keep my brain ac­tive too. In my house, we try not to spend too much time watch­ing TV, pre­fer­ring board games and games like cha­rades. I’m ad­dicted to su­doku too, of­ten stay­ing up late to do them - puz­zles are good for the brain.’

There’s no puz­zle about why Debs has achieved so much al­ready and why it won’t be long be­fore that book about self-help is on the shelves.

‘Armed with a pair of comfy shoes and a dream, I took steps to achieve it’

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