Chartered accountants have a long-standing tradition of lending a hand and their professional skills to local charities and community projects.
Ron Enticott, a sole practitioner of Airde Accountancy in Chertsey, Surrey, spends a great deal of his free time helping out with two local schools and two charities – often shifting his working hours into evenings and weekends in order to do so.
The staff and pupils of the schools, and the others involved with the charities, have all benefited from his help, not to mention the people the charities were actually founded for.
Last year, Enticott won the Everybody Counts award for small practice member in recognition of his devotion to these groups and the real differences he has made.
Freemantles School in Surrey is a primary school for children with autism and Enticott became involved with them when they asked his Rotary Club for help in getting hold of a Christmas sleigh. As a thank you, the school then invited him to their Christmas lunch, and now, five years on, he is a school governor, chair of their finance committee, an extra pair of hands on school trips and often a classroom help.
Enticott admits that he knew very little about autism when he was first approached by the school. ‘I was invited later to spend an afternoon session at the school, and they said they needed someone on their governing body, on the finance side, so I said I would do it. I like to get more deeply involved than that, though. I enjoy spending time with people and it’s rewarding to interact with so many different groups of people.’
Every year children from Freemantles are taken on a sailing trip to the Christian Youth Enterprise Activity Centre in Chidham, near Chichester, and for the past four years Enticott has gone with them to provide extra support. Sue Stephens, the deputy head, said: ‘We take the children sailing as it is a sensory experience which offers something for all the children to enjoy; the more able ones can learn to sail and others can get involved in steering motor boats. They also sleep on a converted minesweeper in the harbour and experience a totally different environment.’
On trips like this the staff-to-child ratio has to be almost one-to-one, as many of the children do not have an acute awareness of danger, and some of their behaviour can be challenging.
Enticott helps in all sorts of ways, from assisting with the activities and looking after the spending money, to assisting with the cooking. Sue Stephens explained that outings are difficult for staff: ‘We are extremely grateful to our volunteers, after relocating from a small village seven years ago, it hasn’t been easy rebuilding a support network.
‘Without people like Ron we wouldn’t be able to run these trips where so many adults are needed. People are very busy – as we know Ron is. We are extremely grateful that he manages to find the time to fit us in.’
Freemantles School has just been awarded Beacon Status as the result of an excellent OFSTED report. This means it is classed as a school of excellence in its field and will have a large part to play in training staff at other schools for children with autism. Enticott attended the school on the day of the inspection as a school governor and provided support to the staff.
In addition to the time he spends with Freemantles, he is the governor and chair of the finance committee to a local secondary school, and is a treasurer of two charities. He acts as a helper on school trips for the other school as well and has recently returned from a history trip to France.
Commenting on why he spends so much of his time doing voluntary work, Enticott said: ‘I think I’m lucky that I’ve got my own practice which gives me extra flexibility – I’ve always done little bits to help in the community. I just think if we’ve got these skills we should use them, not just to feather our own nest but to help in various ways.’
When Enticott won the Everybody Counts award he asked for the #2,000 donation to be divided equally between the two schools and two charities.
Freemantles used its #500 share to buy much-needed equipment. This year it has bought special horseshoe tables needed for a teaching method called PECS, Picture Exchange Communications System, which allows teachers to make eye contact with each child as they teach.
Raising awareness of the benefits of lending a hand in this way is important because: ‘There are many demands from voluntary organisations and charities for financial expertise and the more chartered accountants get involved, the less the burden on those already doing their bit.
‘I am sure there are many others out there who do just as much and more and I encourage them to come forward and let the business world know that Everybody Counts.’
EVERYBODY COUNTS: THE AWARDS
The ICAEW is running its Everybody Count awards scheme in conjunction with Accountancy Age for the second year. The awards are split into five categories: younger member, member of a small business, member in practice, member in business and retired member.
The deadline for applications is 31 December 2001 and the winners will be announced at the institute’s annual dinner in March 2002.
For application details or more information about how to get involved in the Everybody Counts initiative, go to www.accountancyage.com/news/1124734 or www.icaew.co.uk/ everybodycounts. Alternatively, contact Jade Peters on 020 7920 8692. Information on how to get involved in community activity in your area can also be found on the Everybody Counts online registration and matching service.
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