Iain is an inspiration to diabetes sufferers

Iain McLarty and Den of Antiques in Coldstream with an early 20th centuary colisonne vase
Iain McLarty and Den of Antiques in Coldstream with an early 20th centuary colisonne vase

Failing eyesight caused by Type 1 diabetes may have forced Iain McLarty to give up his pharmacy business but he is determined it will not spoil his life.

Instead of retiring and taking it easy, the 59-year-old has rekindled his first love – buying and selling antiques.

“I decided I wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for myself,” explains Iain, who lives in Berwick and has just opened up shop in Coldstream. “I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was ten–years-old but right from the start my mum and dad told me to do everything a kid normally does and never held me back. I’ve tried to keep that attitude all my life.”

However, his failing eyesight meant the pharmacy became too much so he sold up and moved north four years ago as he had been holidaying in the area for the last 40 years.

“The eyesight I have is reasonable although I haven’t driven for 15 years and you wouldn’t want me writing your prescriptions,” laughs Iain, who has got around 20% vision in his right eye and 50% in his left.

Determined to keep busy, he decided to go back into the antiques business. It was an area he had dabbled in years ago but had given up to concentrate on the pharmacy.

Initially he wanted to open up shop in Berwick but found the leases and rents too expensive so opened Den of Antiquities in Coldstream just over two weeks ago.

“I’ve lived in lots of different places but the rent and leases in Berwick are the most expensive I’ve come across and too much for someone who is just starting up,” reveals Iain.

“My friends own Calico House Interiors in Coldstream and as they’ve moved into the warehouse next door they’ve rented me the shop to see how I get on.”

Business has been good already with over 70 people attending the opening day when Iain made his biggest sale to date – a pair of carved Empire chairs at £700.

“One of the things I specialise in is small chairs and I’ve found a lot of really nice ones although I sell jewellery, silver, porcelain, glass and pictures as well as furniture. Some of the costume jewellery is only a couple of pounds so I have stock within everyone’s price range.

“Not driving is a bit of a disadvantage for collecting but I have a good partner and lots of good friends that help me out.”

His biggest find was a few years ago when he found a Chinese snuff bottle at an auction when he was living near Peterborough. “It was reverse painted with the original ivory spoon for taking the snuff out of the bottle. I liked it and bought it for £8 then sent it to Christie’s who valued and sold it for nearly £900. I was happy about that but the antiques business can be a bit hit and miss.”

Iain also sells items for others and can track pieces down on request.

He added: “People come and ask me if I can find things for them and at the moment I have just found a fairly big picture of fishing on the Tweed for someone. I’m also interested in selling local artists.

“The message to other people in my situation is to look after your diabetes as best you can and get on with it. You can still have a good life.”