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Stackyard News Mar 08

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Stuart Bell to Continue Auctioneering at H & H

Stuart Bell, well-known across the UK as a leading auctioneer of both pedigree and commercial livestock, continues his role with Harrison & Hetherington after having reached his 65th birthday.

Stuart Bell

Stuart Bell

Retirement was not really a consideration for Stuart who came to Kirkby Stephen Mart in July 1975 and was keen to carry on and he continues to be senior auctioneer and livestock advisor and remains the main point of contact for the pedigree Swaledale sheep sales at Kirkby Stephen, St John’s Chapel and Middleton-in-Teesdale, having a life-long, in-depth knowledge of the breed and its breeders both from his farming roots and almost 40 years in auctioneering.

“The quality of the livestock and the people who breed them and, of course, especially the Swaledales have always held me to Kirkby Stephen.” said Stuart, “I am pleased to continue what I was doing before my 65th birthday on March 26.”

He will also continue the ambassadorial role he carries out for Harrison & Hetherington at all the major livestock shows and events across the country promoting the farmstock business.

Harrison & Hetherington runs three of the five Swaledale Sheep Breeders’ Association district sales and, with the exception of Ruswarp in North Yorkshire, Stuart has auctioneered at all of them.

He began his career in 1971 at Hawes auction mart close to the family’s farm in Askrigg, moving to Kirkby Stephen four years later, taking over the running of the mart from Harry Turner in 1979.

He took on responsibility for the Middleton and St John’s sales in 1998 when his then employer, Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s began to run both marts until 2002 when the business was taken over by Harrison & Hetherington, a subsidiary of the H&H Group based in Carlisle. He continues to be responsible for all the sales at Middleton and St John’s.

The C District sale at Kirkby Stephen, which runs over three days in October, remains the biggest sale of Swaledale shearling rams.

Swaledale association chairman Alan Alderson said: “I am very much pleased that Stuart is continuing his role. He is one of the most experienced Swaledale auctioneers. He has had great experience of the breed throughout his life, developing a vast knowledge, is very well-respected and knows people the length and breadth of the British Isles, which is a great help.”

A Swaledale association member and a member of the C District committee, Stuart has judged the breed at almost all the major shows in the UK.

On the Swaledale, Stuart says: “There is no other hill sheep that is naturally as productive in terms of her mothering ability and ability to milk and she passes this on when crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester to the Mule lamb.”

And quietly optimistic about this year’s trade, he adds: “Although more and more flockmasters are looking at keeping continental cross and three quarter bred sheep, when the lamb explosion returns, the country will flock back north to buy the North of England Mule and you can’t get a North of England Mule without a Swaledale!

“Despite all that is said about the carcase quality, at the end of the day, it’s the amount of lamb that can be produced economically per hectare that the flockmasters will be looking to to boost their bank balances. The majority of the supermarkets are more than happy with lambs bred out of the Mule ewe.

“There is no other sheep with 20,000-plus lambs on offer at one sale which gives the buyer the opportunity to purchase 500 to 1,000 lambs of pretty much a similar type.”

Praising the team of auctioneers, Stuart has always worked to a pattern of who is in the rostrum during Swaledale sales – and was not disappointed to have missed selling the record priced ram at £101,000 at Kirkby Stephen in October 2002.

Stuart will continue to sell all types of livestock associated with the marts run from Kirkby Stephen, including the Mule sales at Lazonby, as well as store and breeding cattle sales.

Operations director, David Pritchard, said: “We are delighted that Stuart is continuing in his auctioneering role and remaining as an integral part of our sales team. He will be continuing, by managing the areas of Teesdale and Weardale as well as being the main contact for the Swaledale sheep sales. We wish him well.”

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