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Au Revoir after 125 years

Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once said that the only constant in life is change. Certainly, the UK is currently experiencing a time of great change with a new Monarch, a new Prime Minister and cabinet.

Since Greaves West & Ayre was established in Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1918, the world has transformed beyond recognition. The accountancy profession has also changed significantly and GWA has grown and continued to adapt to new ways of working, while maintaining the traditional values on which it was founded.

Some of our people have been with us for more of the journey than others. Over the next few months we will be saying ‘au revoir’ to three of our longest serving members of staff. Between them, Daphne Bell, Anthony Hogg and Lynn Ritchie have over 125 years of combined service. They have each played a part in shaping GWA into the firm it is today.

Here’s a little bit of history on their GWA story.

Daphne Bell

Daphne Bell is one of our Admin assistants, based at our Walkergate office in Berwick. She joined GWA as a young slip of a thing in 1973. Initially she was an office junior, working in the original GWA Sandgate office.

As was very common in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Daphne took a career break to raise her daughter. She returned in 1989 and has since been supporting the whole team in a variety of ways including typing, reception work, answering phones and general admin duties. When GWA expanded its services to include Wealth Management, Daphne  also provided support to the team when it operated from the old Legion building in Sandgate.

Digitalisation has had a huge impact on Daphne’s role. She learned to type on a manual typewriter, subsequently progressing to an electric machine. Now, of course, computers are used for everything. Once audio typing was a big part of her job, but in recent years she tends to use online templates.

When asked what she was going to do with her well-earned free time, Daphne said “My husband Nicky is retiring at the same time and it will be good to have time to do things as and when we please. We’re looking forward to having more holidays.”

Daphne retires on 30 December 2022.

Anthony Hogg

Anthony Hogg has been a linchpin of the Farm Accounts team since he joined GWA after leaving Berwick Grammar School in October 1976 (on his birthday!). He started out as office junior to Bill Renton in the Hide Hill office.

His early duties were very varied and even included being the office runner to Ladbrokes to put on bets and collect winnings. Another task, back in the day when wages were paid in cash, was acting as a ‘security man’ for the weekly trips to the bank to collect the cash used to prepare the wage packets for GWA payroll clients.

As a boy, Anthony enjoyed working on local farms during the school holidays. With this knowledge and love of farming and agriculture, it is perhaps no surprise that a lot of his career at GWA has been working with farm and estate clients as well as limited company accounts for agricultural businesses.

GWA has grown massively in terms of staff numbers during Anthony’s career; when he started there were between 20 and 30 people, now there are over 140 partners and staff. His skill and experience means that he has helped train many of the current staff, including partners. The camaraderie, both at work and outside of work, has been one of the main reasons why Anthony’s career has been so rewarding.

When asked what retirement holds for him, Anthony said “I am looking forward to spending time with my four grandchildren, having lots of holidays (so my wife tells me!) and being able to relax and do what I want to do with no timescales being involved.”

Anthony retired on 11 October 2022, on his birthday exactly 46 years after he started.

Lynn Ritchie

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Accounts assistant Lynn Ritchie spent most of her working life in our Haddington office but she started her career in GWA’s Hide Hill office, in 1979.

In 1982, she got married and moved to Dunbar with her husband. GWA’s senior partner at the time, Ian Davidson, recommended her to another firm of Haddington based accountants – N C Campbell & Co. Lynn worked there full time until 1986, then continued part time from home while she raised her family. In 1991 she returned to a full time role and, following the merger of the two companies in 2016, found herself under the GWA banner once again.

Although Lynn’s main role has always been accounts preparation, the size of the Haddington office meant the day to day job was varied. Over the years, Lynn has had experience of VAT, staff training, income tax computations and has even tried her hand at reception duties.

Lynn retired on 30 September 2022 and is very much looking forward to having more time for gardening, relaxing in her hot tub and seeing her two granddaughters. She is also hoping to go on lots of trips, the first one is already planned for Mexico in November.

Daphne, Anthony and Lynn, everyone at GWA sends their best wishes to each of you for a long, happy and healthy retirement. You will be missed. In this short article, there isn’t space to pay proper tribute to your commitment, hard work and loyalty over nearly 50 years.

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