A ‘leading light’ of a century-old auction house who delighted fans of Flog It! and Bargain Hunt has died aged 76.

Alan Smith will be remembered for entertaining and enlightening audiences via his many television appearances on the BBC and ITV. 

An auctioneer and valuer on antiques programmes, he also appeared on his own series hosted by Helen McDermott entitled ‘That’s Your Lot’. 

Mr Smith was born and educated in Spalding, Lincolnshire, and joined TW Gaze as a chartered surveyor in May 1970 – three months before marrying his wife, Carole.  

He started in the rural department taking to the rostrum to sell pigs, cattle, rabbits and chickens.   

As time went by, he became increasingly involved with chattels and in the late 1970s he became a partner in the firm.  

Eventually his passion and enthusiasm for art, antiques, collectables, estate valuations and the thrill of auctions led him to become fully immersed in the management and running of the auctions department. 

Eastern Daily Press: Alan Smith

Mr Smith built the department from a bi-weekly antiques auction to a weekly multi-faceted sale selling more than 2,000 lots per week, and led the development of Diss Auction Rooms

This included redesigning lot presentations, transitioning to computerisation, commissioning a bespoke auction website, and creating specialist sales including architectural salvage and rural bygones. 

He also helped Norfolk police pioneer an auction ‘due diligence policy’ – later rolled out nationwide – and connected with Norfolk Trading Standards to uphold legal safe-guarding requirements. 

Mr Smith retired from TW Gaze in 2006. 

A TW Gaze spokesperson said: “Over the years, Mr Smith became a respected leading light within the rural, art and antiques professions.   

“He was convivial and charming, very much a 'people person' and ultimately, the auction environment suited him perfectly.  

Eastern Daily Press: Alan Smith

"He became a distinctive, recognisable figurehead of the firm, welcoming visitors to the auction ground with his warm smile and engaging them in animated conversation.” 

His infectious love for objects meant he was also a popular public speaker in East Anglia. 

He shared his knowledge on many subjects while providing access to pieces from his eclectic collection with clocks, Staffordshire figures, and music boxes among his favourites. 

A long-term resident of Hoxne, near Diss, he spent much of his retirement with his wife designing and tending to his large and exquisite garden that included architectural follies and unique water features. 

A representation of teamwork and a labour of love, the couple opened their garden to visitors during the Village Open Gardens as well as on many other occasions.  

Retirement also gave scope for Mr Smith to apply his artistic aptitude to his burgeoning interest in mechanical music and fairground organs.  

He soon began a modest collection of fairground organs, which he lavished time and energy on restoring, exhibiting, and touring with them, and co-founded the Diss Organ Festival attracting enthusiasts from around the globe. 

He also served as chairman of the Mechanical Organ Owners Society and immersed himself in village life by serving on committees and being part of events such as the annual Harvest Breakfast. 

Eastern Daily Press: Alan Smith was a former chair of Mechanical Organ Owners Society

The spokesperson added: “Throughout his life, Alan was ‘mine host’ personified; thoughtful and generous.  

“He was also a private family man, father to four sons, James, Chris, Richard and Ed and a proud grandfather several times over. 

“Retirement was significantly enriched by his growing family, all of whom still live close-by in Norfolk and Suffolk. 

“He remained a great supporter and advocate of the firm throughout, and he will be greatly missed by many.” 

Alan Mowbray Smith died on December 23. 

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