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Tributes paid to Darlington Auction Mart boss
TRIBUTES have been paid to the managing director of a livestock mart who died after an incident involving a bolt gun.
Stephen Aitken was described by his colleagues as a respected auctioneer, whose hard-work and enthusiasm helped to build Darlington Auction Mart into a thriving business.
It has emerged that Mr Aitken, who was originally from Aberdeen, in Scotland, was also a successful athlete and won a number of trophies at the Highland Games, the home of traditional Scottish sports.
Mr Aitken, 45, from Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, died on Monday evening at The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, after suffering head injuries.
Police were called to the auction mart, in Clifton Road, Darlington, at 9am, and recovered a bolt gun, used to stun animals before slaughter, from the scene.
A police spokesman said a report will be prepared for the coroner later this week after a post-mortem examination is carried out.
Mr Aitken is believed to have been married with two young daughters.
John Walton, chairman of the Darlington Auction Mart Company, yesterday paid tribute to Mr Aitken, who he had worked with for ten years.
He said: “He was well-liked and respected by us all here at the mart and he was a respected auctioneer.
“He will be sadly missed.
With his enthusiasm he built up the mart to what it is today.
Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Mr Walton confirmed that the mart will remain closed on Thursday, its next scheduled sale date, to allow staff time to grieve for Mr Aitken.
The Scottish Highland Games Association has paid tribute to Mr Aitken, who it said was one of the leading international heavyweights of the past 25 years.
The statement said: “Scottish Highland Games heavyweight enthusiasts throughout the world have been shocked to hear of the sudden and tragic death of Stephen Aitken.
“Like his father, Rob, before him, Stephen was an allrounder and excelled in his youth in running and jumping and won the coveted Donald Dinnie Trophy for the best all-round athlete.
“For some years he has been managing director of Darlington Auction Mart, but continued to make the long journey north to compete in his beloved sport and had a very successful year in 2011. He had still so much to give.”
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