Some 48 years in Scotland’s auctioneering and valuation industry has come to an end for Hamish McCall, who retired as managing director of Lawrie and Symington’s Lanark and Forfar marts at the end of October.

A former president of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, Hamish has been the head man at Lawrie and Symington since 2014, when he took over from former managing director, Hunter Murray.

Unsurprisingly, he has accrued a huge amount of experience in the industry, having left school to go straight into auctioneering with LS Smellie and Son, Strathaven. While he started at the bottom, he was selling all prime cattle through the mart by the age of 20

While most of his early years were spent in the auctioneer’s box at LS Smellie and Son, he later took on farm sales and valuations. However, foot-and-mouth in 2001, saw the loss of prime cattle sales as we knew them, with the result being that Lawrie and Symington took over the business in 2009 and with it Mr McCall.

“Foot-and-mouth was a terrible time for the industry as it closed the markets right down. I hope we never see the likes of it again, as it was an absolutely awful time. Covid-19 has been a very different challenge. Although devastating, markets have been lucky enough to be able to continue operating under strict guidelines agreed between IAAS and the Scottish Government,” said Mr McCall.

But while Hamish is retiring after 31 years with LS Smellie and Son and 17 years with Lawrie and Symington, he is remaining on the board of L and S as a director.

“I have enjoyed every minute of my working life either auctioneering or doing valuations. I’ve even bought a few commercial ewes to give me something to look forward to outwith golf in my retirement,” added Hamish.

Stepping up to fill Hamish’s boots as managing director at Lawrie and Symington is the board’s finance director of the past three years, Chris Orr, who has high hopes for the future of the business.

“I don’t have a farming background, although I am surrounded by a great team that do and I have learned a great deal working closely with Hamish and the rest of the L and S team for the past three years,” said Mr Orr, who previously was with Tesco’s Bank and Ernst and Young.

He added that L and S is to continue expanding its livestock sector whilst increasing its focus on other aspects of the business such as its property portfolio, having recently purchased the Clyde Vets’ building at Lanark to lease it back to them. The board also hope to increase the amount of agricultural businesses on the L and S sites at Lanark and Forfar.