Pattaya Personality - John Collingbourne
By Gloria Jones
When John Collingbourne tells you he is 75 years old and then talks about what he’d like to do when he eventually retires- you get a measure of the man ! His extraordinary energy and fun loving personality make him a worthy recipient of this month’s Pattaya Personality slot as anyone who has been to one of his auctions will attest.
The problem is that should John finally retire he would certainly be a hard act to follow. As diligently as he might train his successors he would also need to give them some of the charm that he is famous for and of course they won’t have the welsh brogue ! It is the good natured ribbing of his customers that make the Collingbourne auctions such fun where people go as much to watch the auctioneer in action as they do to pick up a bargain. He is very aware of this and recently took tremendous delight in his protegee using one of their favourite phrases: when a customer made a low opening bid for a picture: “Is that just for the nail and string or are you wanting to buy the painting as well ? “
Over his years in Pattaya John has seen many changes, most recently after the Brexit vote when the pound dropped a full 10 baht against the Thai currency. Customers have sold up and moved away, not just the British but also ,he cites, Australian and American friends who have left Pattaya either because financially they can no longer work to support living here or due to medical issues. Either way Collingbourne's will help in terms of turning their possessions into cash before they leave and many people have benefited from the sale of furniture, cars,bikes and general possessions before returning home
So how many years exactly has John been here in Pattaya ? Well it was really a millennium change of scene for him as after visiting a friend in Thailand he decided to make the place his home by buying a resort in Rayong which he successfully ran for 10 years. This he was able to do as he’d already had a hotel in Usk South Wales bought with the proceeds of his fish and chip shop (John has had many different businesses over the years) but he found the work gruelling with little time off and so working by the sea in the sun had quite some appeal. The resort in Rayong was complete with an air strip for friends and guests to drop by on - and one such guest to paraphrase;”:liked the place so much he bought it” as he made a great offer for the hotel.So John having sold his resort ,decided to return to another favourite occupation that of auctioneer, with a plot in Pattaya.
The first Collingbourne foray into auctions started in Newport where John also had a couple of antique shops. Although the “bottom fell out of the antique market in 1998” Newport Auctions continues today and is still a family firm run by John’s son. In fact the idea for Newport Auctions came about because John was driving tankers and handling distribution for large companies such as Texaco and needed a yard in which to park the tankers. What he ended up with was large enough to also house an MOT Car servicing business and also leave room for car auctions the business that remains today. What is clear is that his experience of running auctions as well as his love for antiques means that John has found a business he loves to work in - no wonder he finds it so hard to leave.
Rather as i would be given the same opportunity, John finds himself like a kid in a sweet shop unable to resist the temptation of buying whatever catches his eye - much to the consternation of his wife Yada who sees their lovely home ever filling with extra purchases !
His current favourite possession he tells me, is a piano accordion that with the aid of floppy discs plays by itself and gives John his daily fix of Strauss at breakfast time !
So John’s purchases are now spilling out into his latest venture his wine bar adjacent to Collinbourne’s Auctions which is a delightful place where he can spend time with friends and clients “chew the cud”, talk about the ever changing face of Pattaya and listen to the extensive collection of music on his Jukebox.
John likens himself to “A vicar waiting for Sunday” although his day of course is Saturday
I ask what he would like to do should he ever finally hang up the gavel ? He replies that he would continue to deal in antiques maybe import and export because now the option of bidding and selling online has opened up a world of options. Also he would indulge his love of cars and steam engines - not much of a departure from his current employed status then ! However as John is lucky enough to have found an occupation that indulges his hobbies and passions my prediction is that he will be on that block gavel in hand for some time yet !