Skydiver Alison Gale loves jumping out of aircraft at 12,000ft.
She has raised thousands of pounds for good causes by doing it, and the daring sport also landed her first client.
She recalls her first jump. “I’m fine with heights, but the scariest moment was leaving the plane at 12,000ft. But then I thought Wow, what a wonderful view. The next thing I knew I was going headfirst towards the earth. That was a bit panicky until we levelled out, then it was fine.”
She admits that bookkeeping can be a little scary too. “You never know what you’re going to be taking on, some of the messes you have to sort out. But hopefully you land safely.”
Alison somehow stumbled into bookkeeping. She had originally wanted to work with racehorses after studying Stud and Stable Husbandry at college but was put off by the “slave” labour.
She went on to work for publishing firms and a water supplier before her then boyfriend needed someone to manage his office and look after the books, payroll and administration.
It gave her a solid foundation to her future role as an independent bookkeeper.
But there were other reasons why she looked to run her own business. She had been made redundant six times and decided she could avoid a seventh by working for herself. She also wanted more freedom to care for her elderly piebald cob Harriet.
The horse became a media star when one Christmas Eve she fell down in snow, mud and ice and was rescued by the Fire Service, a story featured in the local paper. She sadly died at the age of 34.
Alison has been an independent bookkeeper for five years, backing up her extensive practical experience with qualifications from the International Association of Bookkeepers.
In the early days, she found it hard to gain clients. An early one “did a runner” and she had to supplement her bookkeeping income by packing parachutes at weekends. But clients began to come to her through her website and word of mouth.
Thanks to her hobby, she met skydiving instructor and parachute expert Rick Boardman who became a client.
As well as the excitement from leaping out of planes, Alison gets a buzz from bookkeeping. “When you are given all that mess, you get real satisfaction from getting it sorted. It’s nice to feel you’ve achieved something.”
She also enjoys playing a part in a client’s progress. “It is satisfying to see them get where they want to be. You can help them achieve what they want to achieve.”
She monitors their financial situation, advises on how much they can afford to take out of the business “If you don’t know your financial position each month, you’re not going to be able to make the right decisions to move forward.”
She concedes that some clients do not appreciate the value of bookkeepers or the many skills they can offer. “One doesn’t use me to my full potential. They don’t always understand what you can do so you have to explain it to them.”
Alison, 49, is a fellow of the IAB and plans to become an accounting technician “so she can help her clients even more.”
Her first consultation is free, and she is happy to visit clients at home. When requested, she goes to clients’ premises at weekends. But if not, you can guess what she will be doing. “I’ll be off skydiving,” she says with a note of anticipation in her voice.