Stephenson Smart’s Sporting Accountants

Stephenson Smart's Sporting Accountants

3rd January, 2023, Melanie Harriss

Accountants link to sporting success

An ultramarathon runner, a ladies football team captain, an internationally acclaimed cricketer and a world championship pool competitor is quite an impressive list of sporting credentials.

Especially when it’s revealed they all work at Stephenson Smart accountants.

In fact, these achievements are just a snippet of the sporting success across our firm, leaving us wondering if sport and accountancy have a greater connection than people realise?

Kayleigh Wilson, Tax Manager

“I think there must be a connection,” said Kayleigh Wilson, pool player and Tax Manager for all six offices.

“Accountants are methodical and logical people and most sports require this trait in order to succeed. Pool is definitely quite a strategic game.

“What is it they say? One side of your brain functions better than the other. I would say accountants excel in the use of their left cortex brain function, however the right cortex that controls creativity and artistic skills – not so much!”

Kayleigh began playing pool at the age of seven after her family moved into The Bowling Green Pub in Wisbech and she discovered she could beat many of the regulars.

She started playing for the Wisbech pub leagues at age 10, won the Division Two singles league at 11 and became the only girl on the under 16s England Juniors team at age 12.

By 13, Kayleigh was playing for England Ladies and went on to represent the UK in the World Championships in Germany.

“I’m planning to enter the IPA and the English Blackball Pool Federation ladies tour events in 2023. Ladies pool seems to be getting a lot more publicity at the moment, so now is a good time to see what happens.”

Lexi Waters, Accountants Assistant

Lexi Waters, Accounts Assistant at the March office is captain of the March Town Ladies Football Team.

She started playing football at age five and training with the Outwell Swifts, playing competitively in the Norfolk League.

“My Dad was my football manager at Outwell until age 11, then I started to play for Wisbech Town Acorns on Sundays and Hungate Girls on Saturdays,” she said.

While Lexi was playing for Hungate Girls she had the opportunity to play a tournament against Tottenham Hotspur Girls at the FA’s national centre at St George’s Park, who they beat to come third overall.

Over in the men’s league, Michael Clunan, Manager at the King’s Lynn office, is captain of King’s Lynn Football Club, while Neil Gayton, also Manager at King’s Lynn, is coach for the under 11s West Lynn Football Team, a four times London Marathon runner, triathlon competitor and recently finished a 48-mile ultramarathon.

Neil said: “Sport is good as the job is intense and there’s a lot of sitting in front of a screen. It’s a much-needed release, I think I would go a bit stir crazy if I couldn’t get out and exercise!”

Kirwin Christoffels, Accountants Assistant

With success in football, running and pool under their belts,  the team can also add cricket and hockey to the list thanks to Accounts Assistant Kirwin Christoffels.

Kirwin started playing cricket as a young boy growing up in South Africa.

After an abundance of accolades, which included winning the under 19’s Cricket World Cup, he was chosen as the overseas cricket professional to travel to the UK to play several seasons at North Runcton Cricket Club, which led him to stay and pursue a career at Stephenson Smart.

As well as cricket he has now extended his interests to hockey, which he plays almost every weekend for the Pelican’s Hockey Club in King’s Lynn.

“I definitely think there’s a link between accountancy and sport,” said Kirwin.

“Both require a fair bit of analysis, forecasting and being able to think on your feet.

“The rules in sport and accountancy may change as the game and accounting period go on, so being flexible and adaptable to the changes in one aspect may lend a hand to being alert in the other aspect.”






London Marathon success adds up for Dan, Andy and Neil

London Marathon Success Adds Up

10th October, 2022, Melanie Harriss

Dan Jastrzebski, Partner, Andy Doyle, IT Manager and Neil Gayton, Manager, all took part in the London Marathon this year, with all three finishing within five hours and raising thousands for charity.

Andy, who ran for East Anglian Children’s Hospices, completed the course in three hours, 51 minutes, putting him into the top 1000 of males aged 50-54.

He said: “I’m very happy with my time as it was what I was looking for. The atmosphere was great, the crowds created a wall of noise all the way round, but the last few miles were unbelievable.”

Despite battling a knee injury Dan managed to cross the line in four hours, 52 minutes.

He said: “My knee was painful throughout, but by the end everything below the waist hurt! I had a few issues with my hamstrings on the day, but I managed to get through to the finish, which was great.

“I’ve currently raised £3,395 for St John Ambulance with more sponsorship still coming in.”

Ultramarathon runner Neil Gayton also didn’t waste an opportunity to run another marathon, taking part virtually with his brother Wayne, finishing in four hours, 23 minutes.

He said: “All of our kids were there with a makeshift finish line. I drove to my brother’s in Gayton for a 6am start, so we could make the one-way trip to west Lynn, via some scenic woodlands and riverbanks, so I could get to coach my son’s football match that kicked off at 10.30am!”

Stephenson Smart, which has six offices in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, has a matched donation scheme that will add to Dan and Andy’s charity totals.

Related Articles: Double London Marathon Bid for Dan and Andy

Double London Marathon bid for Dan and Andy

Double London Marathon bid

29th September, 2022, Melanie Harriss

Dan Jastrzebski, partner at Stephenson Smart and Andy Doyle, IT Manager will be taking on the London Marathon on Sunday, 2 October.

Andy will be running his second marathon in the capital to raise money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, the company’s chosen charity for the year, while Dan is taking on his first race for the St John Ambulance.

Andy said: “I’ve had a four-month training plan. I did the GEAR 10k here in King’s Lynn, the Great North Run, a 10k at Holkham, a half marathon at Sandringham in June and some runs and events with my running group Renegade Runners.

“Training has been more challenging because it’s taken place in the summer instead of the winter. I did a lot of early morning runs to contend with the heat. I was getting up at 4am so I could finish before it got too hot.

“I’ve been running for six years as a hobby just to keep fit, I’ve got to that age where I can’t rely on nature looking after me properly!”

Dan gained a charity place with St John Ambulance after volunteers supported a work colleague during a previous London Marathon.

He said: “I started my training in July and I did the Great North Run, but all the other runs have been training runs locally.

“I’m up to 21 miles so far and my plan is to leave a bit for the day. Hopefully the crowds will carry me through!”

Andy is hoping to finish quicker than his 2021 time of 3.57, while Dan would like to cruise across the line in four-and-a-half hours.

Both are part of a core group of athletes at the King Street office, which also includes Neil Gayton, who took on an ultra-marathon of 48 miles earlier this year.

“I don’t know if there’s a link between accountancy and sport, but there are quite a few of us who run,” said Dan.

“We are very office based, so it’s nice to have that element of releasing some energy and getting out and about. It just helps you to unwind, relax and have a work/life balance.”

Andy added: “I can remember the first London Marathon when I was 10 in about 1981. It’s always been something once a year we would sit and watch and I never imagined I would run it once, let alone twice!”

Sponsor Dan 

Sponsor Andy

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


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