Bill retiring from auction firm after 50 years in farming

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Bill Jamieson is to retire from United Auctions after an illustrious 50-year career in agriculture.

An integral part of the sales team, sales executive Bill Jamieson was originally planning to work his last day at United Auctions on May 27 at the sale of store cattle at Stirling Agricultural Centre – two days after his 70th birthday.

The coronavirus outbreak put paid to that, however, and he will now be marking his last official day with the company from home.

Glasgow-born Bill has lived in Stirling since he started working with the company at Kildean mart in July 1989 after 20 years in farming.

Bill said: ‘Farming was all I wanted to do since the age of seven when we went on holiday to Catacol Farm on the Isle of Arran. It was a fantastic education each year because we helped them do everything.’

From 1969, Bill worked in various farming roles from dairyman at Camsiscan Farm near Kilmarnock, to farm manager at Sir William Lithgow’s Drums Farms at Langbank and at Castlesteads Estate in Cumbria.

In 1989, the late auctioneer Jimmy Weir encouraged Bill to apply for a position at the livestock auctioneering firm.

‘I started out at United Auctions as market superintendent, staffing and running the yard at Kildean, Dalmally and on the island sales,’ said Bill.

‘The sales team knew I had good farming connections in Ayrshire so I soon became a canvasser there which expanded to drawing customers from Arran and over the years I’ve got business in from Wigtownshire, Fife and up to Dalmally.’

He explained: ‘The rostrum role is not for me. I’m good at communicating with people and a lot of my customers have stuck with me long-term and become good friends.’

Bill also made farming connections playing rugby. As well as playing at school and agricultural college, he played for Kilmarnock RFC from 1972-77 and was a top-five try scorer in the top divisions of Scottish rugby.

George Purves, managing director of United Auctions, said: ‘Bill has been a valued member of our team for 30 years. In recent times he has been a mentor for some of our young team, sharing his knowledge and professionalism. With his great sense of humour, Bill always looks to lighten the moment, and he will leave a fantastic legacy that will be with us for years to come. Although it will be a bittersweet day not being able to celebrate with him in person, we wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.’

Reflecting on his long career, Bill said: ‘It’s a great job – hard work and long hours, but good fun. It’s been terrific getting out and about meeting people and making lasting friendships. There have been some real ups and downs in the industry over the years, but we’ve come through it and way beyond because everyone has worked together as a team to keep it going and make the company what it is today. Now it’s time for me to step aside and spend time with the family.’