Chartered accountant Chris Underwood is not that keen on the sea. He’d much rather be on a cricket pitch than pitching around on the waves.
Which is surprising for a man who is playing a vital role in one of the most ambitious seafaring projects currently being undertaken in Britain.
Underwood, who is group financial accountant with the Automobile Association in Basingstoke, is treasurer of the Southampton-based Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST). For the past seven years the JST has been working on the construction of its second tall ship, ‘Tenacious’, thought to be the biggest wooden sailing vessel of her kind in the world.
Tenacious is currently undergoing trials in the Solent and is due to set sail on her maiden voyage in September.
She is designed to be sailed by physically disabled and able-bodied people.
She has wide flat decks and lifts for wheelchairs, specially adapted cabins and washing facilities, and a host of equipment to help people with all kinds of physical disabilities.
The new vessel, launched in February this year and named in April in the presence of HRH Duke of York, has cost #14.5m, of which #6.5m was awarded by the Sport England Lottery Fund. However, #2.5m still has to be found. This amount, together with funds to help pay for berths for some voyagers, is being raised by JST members and well wishers.
Underwood’s challenging job is to keep the finances, for the construction of Tenacious and the operating of both ships, on an even keel. He has steered the venture through grant applications, fundraising, financing and taxation issues, cost projection, setting up a company and the heady days of receiving a #1m donation given by an anonymous benefactor in return for the privilege of choosing the vessel’s name. It is, he says, stimulating and rewarding.
Underwood is just one of thousands of chartered accountants up and down the country who regularly give their time to community activity. In the run-up to the millennium the English ICA launched Everybody Counts, an initiative which took as its starting point the significant contribution made by members participating in voluntary work and sought to facilitate more of the profession giving their time in this way.
‘What quickly became apparent when the scheme first launched was the extent to which the profession was already active in the community,’ said institute president, Graham Ward.
‘Although Everybody Counts was originally launched as a millennium initiative, by the time of my election it had become clear that the profession’s involvement in the community was substantial, and deserved wider recognition and support.’
In response to this the institute, in conjunction with Accountancy Age, is launching the Everybody Counts Awards Scheme. All members involved in voluntary activity are invited to participate in an initiative which is hoped will draw wider attention to the benefits of voluntary work.
Entries will be divided into four categories: Members in Business; Members in Practice; Younger Members (under 35) and Members of small businesses/firms (those with a maximum of 50 employees). The winner of each category will be presented with a financial donation for their project at the Everybody Counts Awards Ceremony in March 2001.
‘Accountants can make a considerable difference in the community. By showcasing examples of this kind of activity we hope that businesses, voluntary organisations and the wider profession will be encouraged to find out about how they too can get involved,’ said Accountancy Age editor, Damian Wild.
In the run up to the awards ceremony, examples of Everybody Counts projects will be featured regularly in Accountancy Age.
Further information about the award scheme and entry forms are available from the Everybody Counts website at as well as the English ICA Everybody Counts Team on 0207 920 8564.
Information on how to get involved in community activity in your area can also be found on the Everybody Counts website.
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