Jimmy, 20, loves leading the sales in Leyburn

Jimmy Fawcett, auctioneer at Leyburn Auction Mart.Jimmy Fawcett, auctioneer at Leyburn Auction Mart.
Jimmy Fawcett, auctioneer at Leyburn Auction Mart.
They're the focal point of the livestock market and their performance is highly scrutinised by those hoping to achieve the best possible price on the day. The livestock auctioneer can go from hero or zero in some eyes in a matter of minutes. The role requires strength of character, a cool head, determination and an uncompromising and unwavering belief in ability.

Sadly some of the county’s leading exponents of the livestock auctioneer’s craft and guile are no longer with us. Ben Atkinson, who reigned supreme at Wharfedale Farmers Auction Mart at Otley; and Robin Screeton, who brought about much of the success at Selby Farmers Auction Mart were not just battle-hardened, no-nonsense purveyors of the gavel or stick, they were also big personalities.

For one young man his career as a livestock auctioneer has only recently begun.

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Jimmy Fawcett is just 20 years of age. He’s a farmer’s son from Sand Hutton near York where his parents Carl and Kathy lived and farmed up until September when they moved their cattle and sheep to Rothbury in Northumberland. Jimmy is the youngest of three sons with brothers Ed and Will. He also has a younger sister Lucy who is studying agriculture at Bishop Burton College, but being the youngest son wasn’t why Jimmy looked to leave the farm.

“I’ve always wanted to be a livestock auctioneer. Right from being a little lad I’ve been around the marts with dad and my brothers. The buzz, the atmosphere, they’re the things that drew me into this world and seeing good stock has always been important. I enjoyed stockjudging when I was with Derwent YFC and that all helped.”

Having left school a 16 Jimmy took up a position with Barnard Castle Auction Mart where he worked for a year before landing the opportunity to sell alongside mart manager Stephen Walker at Leyburn.

“Stephen has taught me a lot and put me in the rostrum to start selling cattle when I was still only 18. Not many will ever get the chance I’ve had and I really appreciate that. I was very nervous that first time I stood there and started selling and I’m still a bit that way now before I get in the rostrum because farmers are relying on you to get the best price for them. It’s a huge responsibility but I thrive on that kind of pressure.

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“I’ve learned what stock suits what people and that there are buyers for every type of cattle or sheep, but I’ve also learned that good manners is a massive thing. Stephen will always say hello to everyone and take the time to talk. When you’re selling stock on behalf of others you really should take the time to chat with them too, get to know them and discuss what is best for them. There can be people who either love you or hate you but you’ve got to get on with everyone.

“I don’t think I would have got this chance to sell, as young as I am, anywhere else. Leyburn has a hell of a buzz. It’s what the men and women do up here. They farm livestock.”

Being in the rostrum each week is one thing, making sure the numbers are there is often the element of the auctioneer’s life that others don’t fully appreciate.

“Stephen and I are out on farms every day we don’t have a sale and if we’re not out for any reason we’re on the phone trying our best to get every bit more stock we can get.

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“Store sales are on a Friday when we can have 1,500 lambs on a good week and anywhere between 250-400 cattle. Every week we have rearing calves and they have been a massive thing for us in recent times with 200-plus some weeks.

“Our primestock day is Wednesday and we try our level best to match and better the prices being made at other marts. It’s important because we want to keep our customers coming here every week.”

Whether Jimmy’s career sees him revered in the same way as Ben, Robin and countless others who are still plying their trade only time will tell but he certainly has the likeability factor judged by the reception he received from farmers in the café when they realised he was to be interviewed.

“I love being here and the quality of the stock that comes to us is amazing. Unless you come you don’t fully appreciate just how good it is.”

He certainly knows about selling Leyburn Mart to others.

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