By Paul Spencer sales director at Dingwall and Highland Marts Ltd

It’s the end of an era here at Dingwall with the imminent retirement of Ian Tolmie our managing director.

Ian has been a stalwart of the mart for decades, working here his entire career and is a hugely respected figure among the farming community in the Highlands. His departure will be sorely felt among the team and more widely by our customers.

However, we’re looking ahead to a bright future and although our industry has become massively competitive we are confident we have a very capable team in place hungry for the challenges this brings.

It is our firm belief that animals bred in the Highlands should be sold in the Highlands and we place a lot of value on knocking on doors and walking up farm roads to get this message across. We sell stock from as far afield as Orkney down to highland Perthshire. Annually we have around 250,000 sheep and 25,000 cattle going through the ring – the majority of which have all been bred in these parts.

Our business is very much geared towards the farmer, and we’d rather see them selling their stock through the ring than going elsewhere. We want to make this as easy as possible and a key way of doing this is through our satellite markets in Lochmaddy, Stornoway, Portree and Ben Nevis. These are a great way for young auctioneers to experience farming and crofting in rural areas as well as our home especially in the tail end of the year.

Times are definitely changing but we are doing all we can to support farmers and crofters who sell through the ring. Farming can be a lonely life and the social aspect of the market shouldn’t be forgotten. We want to welcome our customers to the market and make sure they have a great day out on a personal level as well as on a business front. Technology is great and we are embracing this in many aspects of the business but you can’t beat the good old fashioned aspect of buying and selling through the ring.