Stuart Haigh, director at accountants Whitley Stimpson, is retiring after more than 35 years in accountancy.
It was a chance encounter with a football legend that kicked off his career in Oxfordshire. Having graduated from the University of Leicester where he played football for England universities abroad, he was signed up by Bradford City and when playing in London he met Bobby Moore who asked him to move to play at Oxford City.
Stuart moved to Oxford in 1980 on the basis that he would also be able to have a job. He worked with Tony Rosser on the Oxford Journal newspaper as a trainee accountant where he stayed for three years while playing for City.
He then went to work for Baxter Payne accountants in Bicester, qualifying in 1988. He was promoted to become a partner the next day with the business becoming known as Baxter Payne & Haigh Ltd. It was taken over by Whitley Stimpson in 2014.
Stuart’s first client was a mobile hairdresser called Pauline Green whose business was called PG Clips in Oxford. Since then, he has supported more than 1,000 clients, some of which have gone on to be highly successful with multi million turnovers.
Most are within the Oxford ring road and range from, medics, orthopaedic surgeries to retailers and construction firms to pubs.
Stuart said: “I will certainly miss working at Whitley Stimpson and my many clients. It’s great to know that you’ve helped people and I remember the first meetings with some clients who are now incredibly successful – I like to think I’ve made a difference.”
The majority of Stuart’s clients will now be taken over by senior manager Natalie Sansome, while he focuses his time working with Oxfordshire mental health charity Restore which supports about 900 people a year.
He has worked with the charity for many years as Treasurer and Trustee and every year the Whitley Stimpson Bicester office holds a charity golf day in aid of Restore.
Stuart will continue to work with the eight other charity Trustees and will also volunteer with members sitting in on meetings and taking time helping with woodwork, gardening, etc.
Stuart is also president of the Frewen club in Oxford which was started in 1869 and where he has been treasurer for 12 years.
Director Jonathan Walton said: “Since BPH merged with Whitley Stimpson, Stuart’s expertise and experience in looking after small businesses has been excellent. His contribution in director meetings has been superb and his assistance with the direction of the company overall has been terrific.
“Stuart is such a happy spirit and it’s clear he’s adored by staff and clients alike. His fellow directors have the utmost of respect for how he handles his portfolio of clients and for how he has completely cracked his home and work life balance. We wish him the very best.”
Stuart leaves Whitley Stimpson on March 31 and although he won’t be able to have a full celebration, the team are staging a Hotel Chocolat Zoom event as a send-off.