Growing up in Dumfries and Galloway, I was surrounded by the farming community. With a family beef and sheep farm, I spent a lot of my childhood on the farm, whether that was making pancakes with my Granny or sweeping the silage into the slat shed with my Papa, farming has always been in my blood.
As well as farming, we had a family haulage business and at 12 years old, I was an expert on invoicing customers on the accounting system Sage 50. My Dad thought nothing of handing me 250 invoices to process, of course they were checked!
At the age of 17, I had the opportunity to carry out some work experience at a local accountancy firm, and I very quickly decided that a career in accountancy was definitely for me. After university and some time travelling and living in Australia and New Zealand, I then returned to join David Allen in 2017 where I began my studies to become a Chartered Accountant. The rest is history!
Something people may not know about me is that when I was 20 years old, I sat and passed my class 1 HGV licence. I had originally looked at doing my trailer test so that I could pull my horsebox, however, as we had a haulage firm, the idea of having my own HGV licence was exciting! So with that in mind, I skipped the trailer test and jumped straight into the rigid and articulated lorries.
Always up for a challenge, I wanted to put in a few shifts to prove I was up to the job. I would leave Glasgow and head to Yorkshire to tip then reload in the afternoon with dairy products from Arla in Leeds. I would tip the next morning in Purfleet, reload later in the day with fruit out of Kent and then head back up north to Glasgow Fruit Market. It was all good fun, but I knew I’d rather run the figures rather than the vehicles!
A beef and sheep farm in the Eden Valley in Cumbria is now where I call my home, where my partner Jimmy Stobart farms in partnership with his brother and parents at High Hall Farm near Croglin. The 780 Ha farm is split into two blocks with 93 Ha ran on a rotational grazing system and the rest being made up of SDA and moorland. In the last 10 years, they have continued to invest in infrastructure with 40 Ha being put into techno grazing systems. This has allowed them to budget feed more accurately, extend the grazing season, increase liveweight gain and reduce bought in inputs.
Three years ago, High Hall Campsite was established. The modern camping and glamping site has become a popular rural retreat. In addition, they also sell their pasture fed meat direct to consumers. The forward-thinking brothers are always seeking out opportunities to diversify and it is exciting to be part of this and support them as the business grows year on year.
Farming is unlike any other commercial business; it can be complex, unique and specialised, so working with an accountant who really understands farming businesses is essential.
Being from a farming family and living on a farm, I have a great understanding of agriculture. I understand the opportunities and challenges facing the industry, which genuinely makes a significant impact on my clients and the knowledge I can provide.
David Allen’s agricultural team offer a high-quality personal service and understand each client individually, which helps us to provide tailor made advice that is easy to understand. We go the extra mile for our clients, supporting them through many events and challenges such as; new business ventures, business diversification, business expansion, downturns in the industry or succession planning. We build relationships based on knowledge, trust, experience and commitment.
In recent years, diversification has become an increasingly important tool for farmers. Diversification can generate an additional income but it’s important to understand the potential tax implications of each diversification project. It’s not just dealing with the routine accounts and tax affairs but thinking beyond this to ensure all bases are covered for now and the future. As well as offering accountancy, tax and payroll services, we also have expert teams who offer IT solutions, Wills, power of attorney and probate, financial services and recovery solutions ensuring that our clients have the full support they require to run their business in these ever-changing times.
It goes without saying: farming is hard work! And whether you are dealing with livestock or tending to crops, you should be able to do so knowing that your accountancy and tax affairs are all in hand. We firmly believe that working with an accountant who is not just nine-to-five and really understands farming is absolutely essential.
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