A PROMINENT auctioneer and sheep breeder from Northumberland rang the bell to start Kelso Ram Sale.

Michael Walton has been connected with Kelso sheep sales for 75 years, selling his own sheep of Suffolks, Bluefaced Leicesters and Halfbred Tups and as an auctioneer selling Suffolks.

It was a family affair as Michael’s grandson Jack, aged 23, sold at Kelso for the first time in the Hexham Mart Bluefaced Leicester Ring, following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

“It was a tremendous honour to ring the Kelso bell,” said Michael. “And to see Jack selling was a dream come true both for him and me."

Jack added: “It was great that my grandpa and gran (Anne) were here, my gran has always been at Kelso over the decades and yesterday was business as normal as she was present with the usual car full of home cooked food to keep us all going through an extremely busy day.”

Jack also recognised the importance and influence of his mentor at Hexham, senior auctioneer Trevor Simpson.

“Trevor has been connected with Kelso tup sales for 40 years," he said. “And the experience and advice that he has passed on to me has been invaluable.

“The lead up to the Kelso tup sales has been a lot of work, promoting vendors’ sheep with the team at Hexham and Northern Marts but on the day at Kelso, everything came together and made it an extremely successful day for everyone involved.”

The Walton family, originally from Roseden near Wooler, has been synonymous with auctioneering – and Suffolk sheep – for years.