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NAVA Propertymark Novice Auctioneer of the Year 2018 - winner announced!

Thursday 25 October 2018

We're delighted to announce the winner of last night's prestigious NAVA Propertymark Novice Auctioneer of the Year for 2018.

Debs Latham from SDL Auctions was crowned the winner, and took possession of the Clive Emson Competition Rose Bowl and gavel. This year marks the fourth time in a row that a woman has won the competition, hot on the heels of last year's winner Georgina Hilton. 

Debs joined SDL Auctions in 2018 as Head of Residential Auctions North West and after a career as a civilian and military air traffic controller she found her love for the property industry. Her former experience includes time spent in agency, lettings and property management, as well as a Visit England trained Inspector.

The fiercely contested, high-octane competition, sponsored by Clive Emson, ATG, Bidpath and Essential Information Group, was held at the Cambridge Belfry this year. In the afternoon all 12 contestants took to the rostrum to auction off a mixed bag of five auction lots designed to challenge, encourage creativity and simulate the sort of lots that they would come up against in real-life auctions.

On offer to the room-full of enthusiastic bidders, some of whom were planted and given a brief to interject and challenge the novices, were: a taxidermy Buzzard, a disused water tower with expired planning permission, a Caterpillar Loading Shovel, a former diary, and a Fader digital audio console, with guide prices of anything between £100 to £180,000.   

The contestants displayed an impressive mixture of auctioneering styles, but ultimately there could be only three finalists, and after some tough decision making from the judging panel, comprising Clive Emson, Richard Madley and David Sandeman, the panel of experts whittled them down to the final three.

Nick Maddocks and Lucy Gregory were the other contestants making it through to the final alongside Debs. Nick has been a residential estate agent for 25 years but has always had a keen interest in property auctions and heads up the new auction department for Gibbins Richards. Lucy has been a picture specialist at Dreweatts Auctioneers since 2016, having previously worked for Bonhams.

Gavel in hand, these three then went on to compete head to head, after the evening's dinner, auctioning off an additional two lots - a former MOD munitions store and an additional lot specific to each auctioneer - before the judges went away to make their deliberations before ultimately announcing the winner to a rapturous applause from the audience. 

Speaking after her win, Debs said: "I'm thrilled to have won. I love what I do and I’m incredibly passionate about it and it was great to get the chance to show this to the audience, and my peers.

"The competition was exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating, all rolled into one! I guess it was the fear of the unknown. I knew there was going to be people planted in the audience to trip us up, but I just didn't know quite what to expect. Being from a property background, it was a challenge having to auction chattels lots, as it was all new to me. 

"Winning also illustrates that although it's a novice competition, it doesn't just have to be for the younger people. I proved that you can succeed at any age, and regardless of gender. 

"Knowing that in the final I was auctioning for real in aid of the charity Pilgrims Hospices, with real money and real bidders was fantastic. I could have stood up there all night. 

"I also really enjoyed meeting people from other aspects of auctioneering, and making friends. It was nice to learn from each other, and I think I'll definitely keep in touch with some of the people I met." 

We'd like to thank everyone for making the day such a special event and now look forward to the 2019 competition!

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “The quality of the entrants to this years competition was outstandingly high. The investment in terms of training by Auctioneers in their staff is testament to the professionalism within the sector and was reflected by all the contestants, and for the fourth year running the winner was a woman."