Bargain Hunt's newest star has launched her own auction house and has vowed to “blaze a trail” for women in the male-dominated industry.

Antiques expert Irita Marriott joined the long-running TV series earlier this year.

Irita, 39, is best known for her expertise that she displayed whilst on Antiques Road Trip which she joined in 2021.

She is now swapping her microphone for a gavel by launching her own auction house – one of only a handful of women-run auctioneers in the UK.

Irita Marriott Auctioneers has opened its saleroom to the public in the Derbyshire village of Melbourne.

She said: “Opening my own auction house is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and now the time is right.

“I have the knowledge, experience and expertise, plus numerous contacts in the industry who are keen to collaborate with me.

“I am proud to be able to do this. I arrived in England from my home country of Latvia at the age of 20 to build a new life.

“I had no idea where my journey would take me. I’m thrilled it’s led me into a profession I love.

“The auction business has been male dominated for a very long time with only a handful of women running salerooms.

“I am looking forward to adding to their ranks and helping to blaze a trail for women.

“I plan to build on my previous business success and offer the general public the best possible service.”

Irita moved to England in 2004 and after seven years working as a retail manager at a garden centre in Bradford, she started antiques dealing.

She said: “I loved it but it was hard work. I’d get up at 3am to travel all over the country and abroad to source and sell items at antique fairs.

“And I did that whilst caring for my two sons. From the moment they were born, they joined me on my very own version of an antiques road trip.

“It was a steep learning curve but when you love what you do learning is easy.

“I am quite driven. While working hard to gain more knowledge, I recognised the public’s passion for antiques had sparked several TV shows.

“I wanted to be part of that, to be known for what I do and love.

“Most people are head-hunted for TV work but I was a bit cheeky. I contacted Antiques Road Trip to offer my services.

“I was fortunate enough to gain an opportunity on the show.”

Following her big break, Irita has featured in six seasons of Road Trip as well as starring in Celebrity Antiques Road Trip before being poached by Bargain Hunt.

The mum-of-two added: “When I wake up in the the morning I sometimes have to pinch myself because I feel so lucky to have a job I love. It’s brought me so many opportunities.

“But sourcing and selling antiques and collectables is ultimately what I do.

“Now my sons are a little older, I’m ready to take my business ambitions further. But to do that I need to move with the times and embrace change.”