TV’s Bargain Hunt star Tim Wonnacott at Warnham to support St John Ambulance

TV’s favourite antiques expert Tim Wonnacott is widely regarded as a ‘national treasure’ after years of presenting Bargain Hunt and a host of other programmes.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:24 pm

He is also rather good at spotting national treasures too.

He enthralled diners with witty anecdotes and recollections at the annual fundraising lunch held at Warnham Park, Horsham, in thanksgiving for the work of St John Ambulance Sussex volunteers during the Covid pandemic.

How he got his big break on the Antiques Roadshow on the back of the valuation of an 18th century golf ball on the miscellaneous table and why honouring a speaking commitment to a vinegar heiress helped seal his place on Bargain Hunt were all part of his fascinating journey from Chairman of Sotheby’s South and Olympia to TV stardom.

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Dan May-Jones, Sussex County Priory Group Chair of St John

But although he sifted through a table of ‘treasures’ that hopeful guests had brought there were no million pound Ming vases anywhere in sight.

His old friend Rupert Toovey - who is always so equally generous with his time in supporting good causes in Sussex - conducted an auction at the end of the afternoon which raised thousands of pounds for a mobile first aid post.

St John has played a colossal and largely unsung role in the country’s Covid response with volunteers supporting millions of vaccinations and providing invaluable support in hospitals - despite losing all their income during the worst of lock-down at cost of £1.5m per week.

Dan May-Jones, Sussex County Priory Group Chair of St John, welcomed guests. Afterwards he said: “Today’s fundraising lunch at Warnham Park was about kicking off the fundraising appeal to purchase the new first aid treatment centre for use in Sussex. It is a project that will cost us about £75,000 but will really enhance the medical cover we can provide at public events up and down the county.

“St John volunteers have been vital to nation’s Covid-19 response in the past 18 months, giving 1.2 million hours of their time supporting the health service by working in hospital emergency departments and wards, providing ambulance cover for all categories of 999 call, and - most of all - administering and supporting millions of Covid and flu vaccinations.

“The volunteers have worked absolutely tirelessly through the pandemic to provide healthcare where it is needed in our communities and our fundraising appeal is about supporting those volunteers with the resources they need for the next part of their journey.”

The hugely successful event was made possible thanks to the efforts of a huge number of people including St John volunteers of all ages who served at table.

Caroline Lucas who hosted the lunch in a marquee installed for her daughter’s wedding two days earlier at Warnham Park thanked everyone involved.

“Today has been absolutely phenomenal. We’ve had the most incredible time and raised an awful lot of money for St John Ambulance,” she said.

Special guests included Lady Fiona Barttelot, from Stopham near Pulborough, who is the National President of the St John Fellowship, and Ann Cable, Chief Commissioner of St John Ambulance.

Both spoke about the extraordinary work of the volunteers and all who supported them and the huge and positive contribution that St John makes not just during the national crisis of Covid but week in and week out throughout this land and beyond.

Readers who wish to support St John Ambulance can do so by volunteering their time to train in a variety of roles. Visit https://www.sja.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities/ to find out more. There are also a number of ways to donate to or fundraise for the charity which can be found at https://www.sja.org.uk/get-involved/donate-and-fundraise/.