Congratulations to John Thomson Snr

Winner of the 2018 Mart’s the Heart award


Our congratulations to John Thomson Snr who was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the 2018 Mart’s the Heart presented by Farmers Guardian at the British Farming Awards staged in Birmingham in October.

Mr Thomson, now in his nineties, has taken an active interest in farming all his life and his farms are now managed by his son, John, and grandson, Matthew, who together have established and run the Shawhill Beef Shorthorn herd. The award was made in recognition of an auctioneering career spanning more than 70 years. He began life in the rostrum shortly after he was de-mobbed from the armed forces in 1946. Not one to hang around, he was selling pigs the following week at Dumfries livestock mart - the same centre his grandfather had bought back in 1880s.

For the next 50 years, John Snr continued auctioneering for four or five days every week. John Snr’s sons, John and Stuart, joined him in partnership, and by the turn of the next century in 2000, the business joined with Longtown mart at which point John Snr decided to retire.

During retirement he began writing books, firstly Rings of Memories, charting the history of Scottish livestock marts from 1880, then Farmers Went to Market, an auctioneering history of livestock marts in the northern counties of England. A third book has recently followed on the history of marts in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire. During his retirement, John Snr has never been far from the sales ring, and when Longtown fell into financial difficulties in 2014, he stepped in with his sons and took over the management and refinancing it as C&D Marts.

Since then Longtown has developed in to a flourishing business recording £80 million worth of stock going through the sales ring in 2017. It’s also the centre where John Snr can be found most Tuesdays at the store sheep sales.

He comments: “Auction marts continue to attract buyers to the towns that host them, they act as a social gathering place and support local farmers. Supermarkets should play their part in supporting local communities by sending buyers to marts, buying stock from local farmers, for local households to buy-in their stores.”

Livestock Auctioneers’ Association executive secretary and judge, Chris Dodds says: “From John Snr’s books, you can appreciate his passion for the industry, but as you will see with the progressive approach demonstrated at Longtown, he remains a great proponent of the competitive advantage the live sales ring brings and this is a richly deserved accolade.”