An auctioneer who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps has fulfilled a personal and career ambition in grand style, achieving the top price at the NSA Wales & Border Ram Sale.

Chris Armstrong, from Hexham and Northern Marts, had always wanted to sell at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, as his grandfather, Tommy or TAS Thompson had done in the past.

So it was a fulfilling moment when consignors from throughout the UK asked Chris to sell their Texels at last month’s sale, a request the NSA were only too happy to accept.

“We catalogued 128 Texel rams from Wales, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man and we conducted a show on the Sunday afternoon. It was a very select band,” said Chris.

“Mr Jeff Evans from Pantydwr came and judged the show and the championship went to a Texel shearling ram from Jonathan Watson from Bowsden Moor, Berwick.

“As it transpired, that ram was the first ram to be sold on the day and the first ram I sold at Builth Wells ever, and it was sold for 7000gns which was a great achievement. We got off to a great start.

“By the end of the day’s trading, that ram was the most expensive sold on the day out of a catalogue of 4,560 rams. I was absolutely delighted.”

Not only that, but Chris’s ring averaged £772 per head for shearling rams and £507 per head for ram lambs, beating the prices in the other two Texel rings.

“So on our first attempt I am delighted to say that because of the quality of the stock on offer and the faith these breeders have in our company, Hexham and Northern, and the faith they placed in me to sell on their behalf, everything has well and truly paid off.”

Chris, who has worked at the mart for 21 years was born and brought up on the family farm on the Otterburn ranges, where he farms 2,000 acres with his parents.

Mr Thompson was his mother’s father and rose to become a respected auctioneer, selling initially at Scots Gap, which has since been incorporated into Hexham and Northern. He started out in a variety of jobs, including forester, butcher’s boy and cattle drover.

“He sold prime fat lambs and a great number of store cattle, but probably one of his main classes of stock that he sold were Irish cattle, in particular, Irish breeding cattle,” said Chris.

Mr Thompson struck up a strong working relationship with the Foley brothers from County Sligo which lasted decades and it was during this time that he was approached by breeders of Bluefaced Leicesters who had 20 sheep they wanted selling in Wales.

Mr Thompson agreed to take them and it was the start of a career selling at the Royal Welsh Showground.

And it was Mr Thompson’ s reputation that led to a comment years later, when Chris was studying at Harper Adams and which spurred Chris on to become an auctioneer himself.

“I did a year in industry with Jimmy Walton at Flotterton, Rothbury and he said to me my grandfather was a good auctioneer, good with people and good with stock, and at the time I had never really given it a great deal of thought,” said Chris.

One of the first classes of stock he sold were breeding rams at the Kelso Ram Sale, around 15 years ago. Then 11 years ago he took on a full ring of Texel rams from both sides of the Border.

“I am pleased to say, this is now my 11th year selling for those producers at Kelso.”

Today, Chris has not only lived up to his grandfather’s reputation, but also wears a sprig of lucky heather when he’s selling, just as Mr Thompson did before him.

“After the sale I rang my mother who was delighted and she did say my grandfather would have been proud.”