Auctioneer funds Honiton cafe for Hospiscare

Volunteers will man refurbished, historic tearoom at saleroom with all profits going to the charity.

A HONITON auctioneer is to mark his 20 years in Devon by reopening a former saleroom caf� for Hospicecare.

Duncan Chilcott was a fresh-faced 18-year-old when he embarked on a career in fine art and antiques, starting at Christie’s as a porter, making the tea and humping furniture around in their London saleroom.

Tomorrow (Saturday) he is throwing a party to celebrate his two decades in Devon - and will reveal he and his wife, Elizabeth, have funded the refurbishment of a previously unused part of their Honiton saleroom and turned it into a cosy little caf�. It will be staffed by volunteers from Honiton Hospicecare at every future auction with all proceeds from sales going to the charity.

“Our premises, which were built in 1912, have a 50-year history as a saleroom and used to be part of the livestock market complex,” Duncan told The Midweek Herald. “The little room at the back was a tearoom for the farmers, but it’s been empty and forgotten for longer than I have been in Devon.

“In order to give something back to the town that’s been so good to us, we thought we’d bring it back to life.”

Duncan added: “In addition to creating a great facility for our auction-going customers, selling tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes prepared and served by Hospicecare helpers, we hope the caf� will also be a focal point for Saturday shoppers and that it will raise substantial funds for Hospicecare.”

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After starting his career with Christie’s, the world’s biggest auctioneer, Duncan, 52, moved to Phillips auctioneers, and then to Bonhams. He moved to Honiton as managing director of Bonhams West Country in April 1991.

The urge to establish his own business was satisfied in 2003 and he launched independent family firm, Chilcotts, the following year.

With Elizabeth, his wife, he started the business in Tiverton, and opened the Silver Street saleroom in Honiton in association with Stags in 2007. Since then, the business has blossomed: turnover rose by 35 per cent last year alone.