Charity work has always been part of my life, and for the past forty years, I have been a charity auctioneer, performing on over 1,000 occasions, for hundreds of different charities, big and small, and raising millions of pounds from their generous supporters.
Many people ask if I have a favourite charity over and above the twenty to thirty auctions I do each year. Growing up on the coast in Weston-super-Mare, I’ve long been a supporter of the fantastic work the Royal National Lifeboat Institution do, so they are very special to me. I’m delighted to be patron of their appeal for their new lifeboat station in Weston-super-Mare.
The auctions for Make-A-Wish and Chain of Hope are always two highlights in my auction calendar. But one charity in particular, Prostate Cancer UK, is dear to my heart, because they helped me greatly when I faced cancer in 2013. Thanks to their advice, and the brilliance of my surgeon at Addenbrookes, here I am seven years later still writing, still auctioneering.
Some of the more impressive items I’ve auctioned which each raised over £70,000, include: a week at The Masters Golf Tournament as the guest of Lee Westwood, with the special bonus of being his caddy on practice day; fly to LA, attend the opening of Al Pacino’s latest film, and have dinner with him afterwards; and private jet to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix as the guest of Bernie Ecclestone, with five-star hotel and grid passes. I remember one auction some twenty-five years ago when one of the lots was a photograph of Margaret Thatcher at the Tory Party Conference with her chair being held back by Ted Heath. It went for £150, and I was the highest bidder!
In 2019, the total sum raised for the charities at the twenty auctions I conducted, was £2,902,650, and the sum raised since 1996 is £48,064,562. I can’t tell you how much I made in the twenty years before, because I didn’t keep a record.