A octogenarian who was “happy to go to work” every day of his career has died at the age of 81.

From working as hard as he played, to making his community a better place, Patrick Nicholls has left a legacy of a well-lived life. 

A former senior partner of TW Gaze, which has auction rooms in Diss, Mr Nicholls worked with the company for 36 years.

Born in Worcestershire in 1942, his auctioneer father ran an estate agency in Hereford specialising in the sale and valuation of licensed properties, pubs and hotels.  

His father took him on as a trainee at the age of 20.

During this time, he studied via a correspondence course with the College of Estate Management to become a chartered surveyor. 

Eastern Daily Press: Patrick Nicholls

After working with his father for six years, he was offered a job by Thos. Wm. Gaze & Son and moved to Diss in south Norfolk in 1966.  

Paying tribute, a spokesman for the firm said: “Life and work in Norfolk was happy and the firm was prospering.

“He always said that he didn’t recall a day when he felt other than happy to be going to work. 

“He particularly enjoyed the quick business and a degree of 'fun and theatre' in auctioneering.   

“He had a hard work ethic and developed a strong reputation for integrity and reliability, which served him well in the housing estate agency sector of south Norfolk and north Suffolk.”

TW Gaze continued to thrive, and he became one of six partners who shared the running of the business in its various disciplines.

He was charged with developing the estate agency practice for TW Gaze and turned the once-fledgling department into one of the three cornerstones of the firm in the 1980s and 1990s. 

He also led the commercial side of the business, possibly a throwback to his father’s practice in Herefordshire.  

Following Peter Smith’s retirement in 1992, he became the senior partner before his own retirement from the firm in 2002. 

Eastern Daily Press: Patrick Nicholls retiring from Gazes at Diss after 36 years in July 2002

In his personal life, he married Liz in 1967 and together they had two children, Ben and Sarah. 

During the early years of married life, he set about restoring a derelict Elizabethan farmhouse in Bressingham, just a couple of miles from the Diss office.   

After 20 years living in the old farmhouse, they moved to a Georgian townhouse only 50 yards from the office and the auction salerooms up the road.  

He threw himself into the Diss community. 

He became an active rugby player and later vice president with Diss Rugby Club, a regular on the squash courts, and was often engaged in raising money for charities.  

And when the children were young, the family discovered sailing at Aldeburgh.  

He became a keen dinghy racer and was class captain of the Wayfarer fleet, before moving into a Flying 15. 

When he retired at the age of 60, the family moved to Aldeburgh, and he enjoyed time with his family teaching his grandchildren to sail.  

Following the loss of his wife, he oversaw the building of a new house in Aldeburgh to a specification embracing maximum thermal efficiency. It took the best part of two years from concept to completion.  

During this time, he also became a flag officer at the Yacht Club, an avid sailor and navigator of the high seas, and a keen golfer and bridge player.  

Eastern Daily Press: Sarah Halls presenting the RNLI Certificate of Thanks to Patrick Nicholls in 2011

As chair of the Aldeburgh RNLI Guild, he was awarded the silver medal by the RNLI for raising significant funds over a 50-year period in both Diss and Aldeburgh. 

He was also known for his enthusiasm for good health and fitness.  

The family will be having a service of thanksgiving on Friday, March 15 at 2.30pm at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Aldeburgh. 

Donations in his memory to the Aldeburgh Lifeboat Guild c/o Tony Brown Funeral Services, the Funeral Parlour, New Cut, Saxmundham Suffolk IP17 1EH. 

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