ONE OF the best-known auctioneers of his generation, David Thomlinson, from Harrison and Hetherington, has died as the result of what is thought to have been a tragic accident. He was 73.

Mr Thomlinson had been in the auction trade for 57 years and as well as being a gifted auctioneer, was also a Limousin breeder of some note, an acclaimed and valued judge of livestock of many kinds and an inspirational characters for the younger generations at H and H (and further afield) that he nurtured through their early years.

His colleagues have been left devastated by the news: "We are deeply saddened with the news of the loss of a legend within our auctioneering industry, our very own David Thomlinson (aka DT), who was sadly taken from us under tragic circumstances," said a statement from the company.

"He will be remembered for his outstanding dedication to the livestock auctioneering world, within H and H, throughout the UK and across the world.

"Fellow auctioneers have paid heartfelt tributes to David over the last few hours, which has shown the impact he has made within the livestock auctioneering business.

"He had a great attribute to develop and mentor the next generation of auctioneers and today we see and hear some of his skills which have been passed on to them to allow them to become the great people they are today standing in the rostrum. He will be a great miss to his family and all the H and H team, but his hard work over the years will live on through the next generation for years to come."

Scott Donaldson, the joint managing director at H and H, president of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers of Scotland and a close colleague of Mr Thomlinson, added: "Although David could have retired, he still maintained a key role within the company through his love of the livestock ring as an auctioneer and latterly mentor. His hard work over the 57 years he served Harrison and Hetherington will live on through the next generation for many years to come. This awful news has come as a huge shock to everyone at Harrison and Hetherington, his enthusiasm, knowledge, ability and passion for the auction system and H and H business was greatly admired by everybody he dealt with."

He had been a honorary president of the British Limousin Cattle Society and had been honoured by many awards over the years. He bought his first cow in 1978 and registered his first pedigree calf in 1979 under the Beeches prefix and the herd he ran with his wife, Sheila, was one of his passions in his semi-retirement.

The British Limousin Cattle Society said it was 'truly shocked and saddened at the news of his tragic passing'. It added: "In so many ways, David had been such a huge and important part of the livestock industry in the UK and, of course, in the development and promotion of the Limousin breed, cattle that he loved with a never ending passion. Through his years as an auctioneer at Borderway Mart, Carlisle, he conducted many highlight Limousin sales and memorably became the first auctioneer to sell a bull in the UK to over six figures.

"At every level he would give ready advice, help and encouragement to breeders and buyers and his words were always with knowledge, experience and wisdom. His work [during foot-and-mouth] in 2001 is something that will never be forgotten in the industry and work that he undertook with ability, dignity, and great empathy."

He had also served as chairman of the Livestock Auctioneers Association and in 2011 he was awarded the prestigious Blamire medal of honour in recognition of his services to agriculture in Cumbria.

His distinctive Cumbrian twang, though, was best heard from the auctioneer's rostrum and one of his landmark moments was when, in 2006, he became the first UK auctioneer to sell a bull at six figures when Haltcliffe Vermount made the then world record of 100,000gns.

There is also no doubt that Mr Thomlinson will be fondly remembered at the forthcoming Cumberland Show (June 15), the organisation of which he was closely involved with, being a former chairman of the show committee.

David Thomlinson's funeral will take place at All Saint's Church, Scaleby, Carlisle, on Tuesday, June 18, at 12-noon.