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.
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
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
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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