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THE first recruit to a training academy for aspiring financiers has become a chartered accountant – seven years after signing up.

The Hornby Academy was unveiled in 2016, as the company pledged to invest in local college leavers looking for an alternative to university.

A tough seven-year programme was devised, with the goal of its students eventually achieving coveted chartered status.

Now Esther Klijn, who discovered this week she has passed her final examinations, has emerged as it’s second graduate.

Esther said: “It has been a long journey with some setbacks on the way, but I have always had a lot of support from my colleagues which has helped me achieve my dream.

“Gaining chartered accountant status after seven years of work has not really sunk in yet – but the main thing I feel is relief that I don’t have to sit any more exams for a while!

“I am very grateful for the amazing support I’ve had from the team and the faith the business has put in me to pass these exams. I feel proud to be part of the Hornby team and happy to say that I am a successful apprentice on their scheme.”

Esther was one of four aspiring accountants to join the Hornby Academy straight out of college. A further five remain at various stages of their learning, hoping to follow in her footsteps.

JF Hornby & Co – twice named UK accountants of the year – offers full funding for all members of its Academy – meaning they can avoid huge tuition fee bills from university.

And Managing Director Paul Hornby says this commitment will continue: “The financial investment we make into the learning and development of all our Academy trainees is significant – but I consider it to be money incredibly well spent and invested.

“Through the Academy, we have been able to give keen, bright, intelligent young people the chance to learn, earn and thrive. Seeing them develop over the last seven years has been a pleasure.

“I am proud of Esther’s achievement in becoming the first of our Academy to achieve Chartered Accountant status from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), having joined us from sixth form. She has shown fantastic levels of determination and commitment to get this far and I look forward to her continued development with the business.”

Esther’s journey with JF Hornby & Co started with her supporting her manager with general accounts activity. She has slowly built her own client list and now supports around 75 businesses and individuals.

Esther – who has also achieved a degree during her seven years of learning – was recently promoted to VAT manager which means she reviews the majority of VAT returns completed by the business.

She has also become the main face of the JF Hornby Money Club – a financial education initiative which aims to bring money to life for school pupils.

For Esther, her eyes are now on the future. She said: “My main plan is to focus on working hard for my clients while looking at the opportunities held here at the firm and exploring my various options with Paul to see which area I can help with the most.”

JF Hornby & Co services upwards of 2,000 clients and has a staff of 50 based out of its offices in Ulverston.

The company offers a suite of services including accountancy, tax and tax planning, corporate finance, payroll solutions and cloud accounting.