Reaching 65 in November, I knew I needed to look to secure the future of the firm with a younger team at the forefront. This has been put into effect with Tony Wing, Alastair Boulton and George Harrison taking over responsibility, and I can now call myself “consultant”, and take time away. They make up and head a good team, and they will have a great future ahead.
I have been fortunate enough to have had exceptional staff over many years. Quite a few friends and relations have had their initial professional experience with the firm. It seems only yesterday that Kathleen Low was my PA. Her daughter Caroline married my cousin Adam Dean, who worked in the office, and they now live in Wales. Kathleen’s son Colin Low now runs the auction and commercial property departments, and does it very well. Many staff have been exceptionally loyal, and worked for the family firm for a great many years. This is what has made it a family firm, not just my family, but a sense of belonging for most staff.
The business has grown considerably over the last 40 years since I returned from training in Yorkshire, and we have opened offices in Woodhall Spa in1984, Coningsby in 1990, Lincoln in 1998, and a second Horncastle office in 2017. The two largest estates where we were involved with the management, (South Ormsby and Woodhall Spa) have been sold. South Ormsby had been in the Massingberd family since 1638. Three generations of Bells had been agents there, and helped with the planting of woods, designing new farm buildings and cottages, and arranging staff pay etc. I was executor for the Squire who having no children left the estate to the Secret Services, (the West Wing of the Hall was a “safe house” during the Cold War), who in turn did not relish the publicity of owning an estate! It has been sold to a private individual who wants to create the “best farming estate in the world”, as seen in November on Country File.
Our management at Woodhall Spa owned by the Hotchkin family, followed an auction held by Mr Parish, (our forerunner) in 1872 for the Dymoke family, when most of the land between Sandy Lane and the Witham was split into 80 lots, leading to the development of this Spa village. Neil Hotchkin was a very talented sportsman, and his interest in golf led to him being Chairman of the European Golf Union. (Mrs Hotchkin sadly died in November, but,) Woodhall Spa is listed as one of the top courses in the world, and is now the home of the English Golf Union and quite a Lincolnshire mecca.
This may be the last time I can lead the way in wishing our clients a Wonderful Christmas. 2020 has been a momentous year, but with the pandemic to pay for and Brexit to sort, I wonder what 2021 will bring. Please be assured of the professional expertise and assistance with which our firm will do its best to help each of our valued Clients.
BSc (Hons) FRICS FAAV