There are few stories, even in the multi-faceted world of bookkeeping, as interesting as that of Kathryn Cowin from Hexham, owner of Black Blaze Bookkeeping in South Lanarkshire.
She started in the world of work as some who go on to become bookkeepers did, by reading mathematics at the University of St Andrews and then on to work as a tax consultant with a view to becoming a chartered accountant.
However, Kathryn missed her life in the countryside on a farm, rearing animals. Never one to take half measures, Kathryn left Edinburgh for Central Scotland to rear Zwartbles sheep and run her own pet services business – Animal Madness – walking dogs and looking after all sorts of other animals for over 10 years from cats and dogs to pigs and cattle.
But the siren song of numbers lured her back. Kathryn said: “I needed to find the balance between my love of numbers, and my love of animals. It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve got there. I’ve enough clients to keep my mind occupied, and looking after the animals and the sheep keep me moving.
“I found Ideal Schools online, and did a bit of research on a few colleges. It was when I spoke to Brian McVean, one of its tutors, when I really felt they were for me. The set-up, the support offered, and the tutors put me at ease. Despite having completed my training with IDEAL some time ago, I still keep in touch via their Facebook groups, which is a brilliant resource for practicing bookkeepers.
Black Blaze Bookkeeping, derived from the English translation of the Dutch breed of Zwartbles sheep she raises on her smallholding, has been growing amongst the South Lanarkshire business community through word of mouth and local advertising, and now has four weekly clients, 30 tax completion clients, and 12 for quarterly accounts.
Kathryn said: “I’ve found my happy balance now. I grew up on a farm and surrounded by greenery, but I needed a bit of brainwork to be happy, and I’m delighted with both my businesses and the farm. Edinburgh was too big for me to live, but I needed to challenge my brain, and bookkeeping has given me that.
“I’d definitely recommend Ideal Schools to anyone thinking of taking the bookkeeping plunge. The support, the course materials and the tutors are all great. You feel like you’re not alone, and it’s a good all round package.”