A QUICK look in Tracie Roberts’ boot provides a bit of a clue about how she spends her working days - or part of them, at least.
A pair of wellies, more often than not battle-hardened by the delights of Cumbria’s farms, are a permanent fixture.
They are perhaps not a tool of the trade for your average accountant - but for seasoned professional Tracie, they are essential in the pursuit of great customer service.
“Farmers are very busy,” she says as she reflects on her first couple of months at JF Hornby in Ulverston.
“If they come to see me, they have to get changed, travel down, then get changed again before they can continue with their working day. It’s so much easier for them if I jump in the car and go to see them."
Tracie has been an accountant for more than 30 years and a passion for farming and agricultural life has driven her interest in working with businesses in the sector.
They vary in profile, from hobby farms to large dairy and flock outfits - but whatever the size, they are united in their common need for her support.
With a family history in farming; her father worked for many years on a dairy farm, she believes she has an understanding of the wants and needs of the sector.
“It is a 24-hour seven day a week profession,” she said.
“I fact it is a lifestyle and if you are working with people in this area, you really need to understand that.
“Their focus and passion is on what they do; there is not a great deal of appetite from most businesses in this sector to sort their own accounts.
But that’s where we come in and make it easy for them.“I become an extension of the team - and in some cases the family - through my work with a lot of these businesses.
And it is incredibly rewarding because they are so grateful for everything we do, and so loyal as well.
”With more than 100 farming businesses on the books at JF Hornby, life in the department is rarely quiet.
The team assists with bookkeeping, VAT matters, payroll, general accountancy services along with business growth and diversification advice.
Tracie said: “I think many of our clients like the fact that Hornby’s is a family firm, and is rooted in a family tradition. They see that side of the business as being very much in line with what they are.
"I think to be local - I’m from Dalton - helps, because you understand the local economy and landscape. That means you can quickly adapt to changes, whatever they may - for example a bad winter or flooding - and advise accordingly.
”Working life in the great outdoors clearly isn’t enough for Tracie - for she spends much of her time out of the office with husband Colin and family dog Ebony, a Golden Doodle, exploring the fells.
Hawkshead is a family favourite due to the abundance of dog-friendly pubs and the intrepid trio regularly take a weekend break there.
For Tracie, the move the Hornby’s has been a positive one. She said: “There is a real team culture and I feel so supported by my colleagues. If you are having a bad day they are there for you, and we all get along very well.
“There is also a lot of knowledge and experience and that is shared, so if you come up against a problem and need help finding a solution it’s always there.
“That makes coming into work very enjoyable.”