Sporting accountants take Ultramarathon in their stride


16th June, 2022, Stephenson Smart

Martyn Benstead, partner at our Fakenham office and Neil Gayton, Manager at our King’s Lynn office have pushed themselves to their physical limits by running an Ultramarathon.

The duo began the course at the Peddars Way in Castle Acre at 7am and finished 14 hours and 38 minutes later at Beeston, just after 9.30pm.

Run by Positive Steps Events, the 100km Ultramarathon is part of a trio of races participants can enter, named the Positive Steps Grand Slam.

Neil and Martyn ran the 48-mile Peddars Way Trail course in January and hope to complete the third race soon – a shorter 50km in comparison.

“Most people start with the 50km and build themselves up, but Martyn and I seem to have attempted the most difficult and left the 50km till last,” said Neil.

“It was really hard because there wasn’t a lot of shade on the coastal path and you are very exposed, but there was good camaraderie and everyone looked out for each other.”

Martyn said: “It was a tough finish. The last eight miles consisted of four miles of pebble beach then tough terrain on Sheringham Golf Course hills and Beeston bump. A bit of a challenge after already running the equivalent distance of two marathons.”

Neil added: “The shingle beach at Cley was horrendous and every time we hit the top of a hill at Sheringham we kept thinking we were nearing the finish line – only to be met with another hill! It was really great to watch the sunset though.”

Both men were supported on the day by their wives and children and are just happy they finished the course.

“I think we were both happy with the time because you have a goal you want to reach and we certainly came within that,” said Martyn.

Neil added: “I’m not sure what comes next, but I quite fancy entering in the Ironman Triathlon competition. I think the 112-mile bike ride may need some considering though!”


Bethany is ‘a leading light’ in Apprenticeship Week

Bethany Little - Apprenticeship Week

7th February, 2022, Melanie Harriss

As the nation marks Apprenticeship Week from today to celebrate and spotlight the positive differences apprenticeships can make to an industry, Bethany Little is moving towards the finish line in accounting after five years of supported study with Stephenson Smart.

The 20-year-old was the youngest recruit ever when she joined us in 2018 at just 16 years old, making her one of only a handful of trainees her age in the country.

Now she’s blazing a new trail as she’s on course to become both a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor at the age of 21 – a qualification that will see her leading the way on a national level.

Bethany, who is based at the King’s Lynn office, was a month into her A Levels when work experience with us prompted her to change course and pursue the offer of an apprenticeship scheme.

She completed her AAT in record time with the support of Partner Claire Melton and began studying for the joint ACA/CTA qualification, an alternative route introduced to allow applicants to gain chartered accountancy and chartered tax advisor status at the same time.

Bethany said: “I think I could be the first person of my age to study for this at Stephenson Smart, but I understand I could be one of the youngest in the country.

“I started in September 2020, a month after I completed my AAT and I’ve already taken six exams. I have already received the results for four and was really pleased to get more than 90pc in each exam.

“I have five exams left to take and I should become a chartered accountant just after I turn 21 in June. I hope to achieve chartered tax advisor status by the middle of 2023 and before I’m 22.”

Bethany has studied solidly for five years and has also identified that taxation of owner managed businesses is an area she wishes to specialise in.

“The benefits to learning while on the job is that it enables you to apply what you are learning into something practical.

“I’ve learnt so many skills – time management is very important, working as part of a team and interacting with clients.

“With an apprenticeship there’s less pressure, more support and at the end of it you have a qualification in accountancy, which is equivalent to studying at master’s degree level.

“I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity because I am now in a career I love, I have been encouraged to pursue my ambitions and I have had brilliant support along the way.”

Claire Melton, partner at Stephenson Smart said she was extremely proud of Bethany’s achievements.

“When Bethany asked me if we would consider giving her an apprenticeship it was something we discussed between the partners because we hadn’t taken a trainee on of her age before, but she was so determined with such a natural aptitude we found it very difficult to find even one reservation.

“We were completely right to invest in her – she’s a leading light. Not only did she complete her AAT in such a short space of time, but she’s now on course to become one of just a few staff members to hold the joint ACA/CTA qualification, making her almost certainly one of the youngest across the UK.

“Our apprenticeship scheme is a really important part of our business because it’s all about nurturing talent and giving people of all ages and interests in the career an opportunity to thrive, progress and help us build a strong workforce for our future.”

Related articles: Why employers should consider an apprenticeship scheme


Stephenson Smart raise £5,000 for East Anglian Air Ambulance

Stephenson Smart raise £5,000 for East Anglian Air Ambulance

16th December, 2021, Melanie Harriss

A group of intrepid accountants have scaled mountains, run marathons and pushed themselves to their physical limits to help Stephenson Smart raise £5,000 for East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

East Anglian Air Ambulance were the company’s chosen charity for 2021.

During the year many members of staff took part in a number of challenges, including The National Three Peaks, various running events and the 24-mile Trek 24 Norfolk, organised by East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Amongst the competitors were Paul Richardson, Manager at King’s Lynn, who cycled the North Coast 500 around Scotland, completed The National Three Peaks, Trek 24 and the virtual London and Manchester marathons, while Marie Ayers, Manager at the Great Yarmouth office, took on The National Three Peaks, Trek 24 and the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Jo Pallant, Tax Senior at Great Yarmouth, ran the Marriots Way 10K run in Sheringham, the Adnams 10K, Trek 24 and the Yorkshire Three Peaks, while Associate Director Kerry Bradshaw completed Trek 24 and The National Three Peaks.

IT Manager Andy Doyle ran the Manchester Marathon, GEAR 10K and took part in Trek 24 and The National Three Peaks Challenge.

Staff across the company also contributed to individual events.

Fundraising by the team raised £2,363, which was match funded by the partners to take the total to £5,000.

Kerry, Jo, Marie, Andy and Paul, presented a cheque to Lucy Clarke, Norfolk Fundraiser for the EAAA.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance is a charity close to the heart of Stephenson Smart, especially finance administrator Sally Legge, whose friend Susan Johnson was attended to by the air ambulance in 2019 after suffering a massive seizure relating to her brain tumour diagnosis.

Sally said: “Sue always giggled when recalling this day, she was not in a good way, but remembered the stir it caused in the small village of Boughton (near Downham Market) having the EAAA land on the nearby cricket pitch and the crew running round to her house.

“Sue had a great sense of humour and wit and she said ill or not ill it was quite a day for Boughton. She praised the crew and couldn’t speak more highly of them. She had enjoyed a long career as a senior nurse and fully appreciated the care given to her.”

Sadly Sue passed away in September that year.

Lucy Clarke, Norfolk’s Community Fundraiser for the East Anglian Air Ambulance said the team had made a real difference to people’s lives, having raised enough to fund a mission and more. Each mission on average costs around £3,500.

“It was wonderful to welcome colleagues from Stephenson Smart to our base and say a huge thank you.

“They’ve certainly inspired me for new year resolutions and I can’t wait to see this brilliant team again in future events.”

Mike Andrews, managing partner at Stephenson Smart said he was proud of the team’s achievements.

“We are very lucky in our company that we have lots of budding sports people and some extremely keen and proficient runners.

“I know that some of these events were pretty gruelling for them with some difficult conditions, but the whole team were really determined to make as much money as possible, especially because the last couple of years have been extremely hard for charity fundraising in the current climate.”

Meet the Team at Stephenson Smart in Fakenham

Meet the Team at Stephenson Smart in Fakenham

8th July, 2021, Melanie Harriss

Stephenson Smart accountants opened an office on Oak Street in Fakenham in 1989, with just four members of staff. Now a team of 13, they provide clients with business and tax advice as well as help with VAT and accounting software, and have ATOL specialist qualifications.

The Fakenham office are also supported by qualified professionals across Stephenson Smart’s other five offices whose specialisms include payroll, inheritance tax, probate and estates.

Martyn Benstead FCCA

Martyn is the managing partner at Fakenham. As well as managing the team, Martyn advises clients on a wide range of areas, including audit, taxation and corporate accounting. Martyn was one of the first accountants in the country to qualify as an ATOL reporting accountant, which allows him to submit ATOL Accountants’ Reports to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mike Rowles FCCA

Mike advises a wide range of clients on areas such as audit, taxation, VAT, and corporate accounting. He has a keen interest in cloud accounting and works with new and established businesses to help streamline their business accounting systems and allowing access to real-time accounts information. Mike is also qualified as an ATOL reporting accountant.

Sean Page BA ACA

Sean joined the firm as a graduate trainee after completing a degree in Economics at Leeds University. He acts for a variety of clients ranging from the audit of corporate pension schemes, charities and advising individuals on taxation.

Marina Watters ACCA

Marina became a fully qualified ACCA accountant in April last year. Marina has a wealth of experience in digital accounting and her specialism is in Xero accounting software.  She supports clients with their cloud-based accounting and management accounts.

Laura James MAAT

Laura qualified with AAT over 10 years ago and has been with Stephenson Smart for the past three years.  Her favourite part of her job is helping clients to understand their business in real time and enjoys learning about all aspects of how a client’s business operates.

Hannah Allgood MAAT

Hannah is a qualified AAT accountant, starting her accounting qualifications at Cambridge Regional College.  She is now working towards her ACCA. Hannah supports a wide variety of clients with their year-end accounts.

Matthew Leverett

Matthew has a BA (Hons) in Audit and Accountancy from Bournemouth University and is now studying towards his ACCA qualification. He supports the managers with preparing clients accounts, reconciliation and bookkeeping.

Allan Nelson

Allan spent many years working in the finance office at Jaeger, which is where he built his knowledge and experience in looking after and reconciling accounts. He works with a variety of clients at Stephenson Smart, supporting them with bookkeeping and year end accounts services.

Carla Andrews

Carla is an AAT qualified accountant who has a defined, part-time role within the team specifically supporting two clients with their bookkeeping and management accounts. Carla is multi-lingual and is also training to be a paramedic.

Richenda McCalla (Chen)

Chen supports the team with her bookkeeping skills, mostly in processing VAT returns for clients. She works with all types of clients, increasingly processing their VAT from their cloud accounting software.

Ethan Keeler

Ethan is currently studying for his level 3 AAT qualification. Ethan is local to Fakenham and completed his A-levels in Maths, Business and Chemistry at the high school 6th form, before starting his apprenticeship at Stephenson Smart.

Patrick Young

Patrick is working towards his ACA qualification. Patrick has a degree in nursing, but quickly realised that accountancy was where his passion lies. He particularly enjoys finding solutions to complicated tax queries and would like to specialise as a tax accountant.

Jo Brown

Jo is the face of Stephenson Smart’s Fakenham office and has been manning reception there for 26 years! As well as being the first port of call for most clients, Jo also provides secretarial support to the accountants.

Photo: Left to right: Laura James, Matthew Leverett, Hannah Allgood, Chen McCalla, Jo Brown, Allan Nelson, Martyn Benstead, Patrick Young, Marina Watters, Ethan Keeler, Mike Rowles and Sean Page.

Meet Mike Andrews

Mike Andrews BSc FCA

23rd June, 2021, Melanie Harriss

The recent retirement of long-standing team member, Clive Dodds, left a vacancy at Stephenson Smart accountants for someone to lead the firm as Managing Partner – meet Mike Andrews BSc FCA.

Who is Mike Andrews?

Mike was born in King’s Lynn and schooled locally, attending King Edward VII Academy for his secondary education. He then went on to the University of Leicester where he gained a BSc in Economics.

A keen sportsman, Mike was captain of King’s Lynn Badminton Club and also played for the county Badminton team, and the local tennis league.

Mike joined Stephenson Smart as a trainee in 1991 and made partner in 2000. He is responsible for the firm’s audit compliance and practice assurance matters and specialises in audit, corporate structuring and taxation. His responsibilities also extend outside of the company as a director of King’s Lynn Festival Too and a co-opted governor of the College of West Anglia.

Outside of the office Mike still enjoys playing Tennis and Golf and is a member of Hunstanton Golf Club.

He said: “The firm is in the best place I could hope for and all credit to Clive for leaving us in such a strong position. He used the analogy that he had taken Stephenson Smart to base camp and now it was up to me to take the firm to the top – and I like that sentiment.

In the last few years we have expanded more than three times in size. The plan now is to continue our growth; through attracting new clients and further acquisitions, if they fit culturally and geographically.  However, it is important that we remain independent and continue to have a personal relationship with our clients.

I am also keen to look at adding more specialist services and areas of accounting expertise to our knowledge base.  One area that we know is going to change in accounting over the coming years is the digitalisation of tax, it is important that we develop our internal systems and knowledge to move with this change, to best support our clients.

I am privileged to have a remarkable team of young partners alongside who have great ideas, energy and passion to evolve the firm to the next chapter in its 100-year journey.”

Profile: Mike Andrews BSc FCA

Related articles: New era at King’s Lynn office


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