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Accounting for change - by ALAN FRANKLIN

One dark night, an Aldershot acountant was driving away from his office when a shaven-headed youth with a ring through his nose leapt out in front of the car, waving his arms.

One dark night, an Aldershot acountant was driving away from his office when a shaven-headed youth with a ring through his nose leapt out in front of the car, waving his arms.

Brian Green was terrified, but had little choice other than to wind down the window to see what the youth wanted.

"You've got a load of files stacked on your roof, mate," said the young man.

So the vital files of a Gilroy and Brookes customer were saved from being strewn across Aldershot High Street, where the accountants have been based at number 247 since 1961.

They have just completed the move of all their own files and staff - into modern, open plan offices on the ground floor of Interpower House, on the corner of High Street and Windsor Way, just along from New Way Nissan.

Overseeing the move was partner Laurie Powell, an Aldershot man, which is appropriate for this Aldershot-based business which was established when Christopher Gilroy acquired the practice in 1938.

Since then they have become accountants for many of the area's best-known businesses, partly because their staff almost never leave and so know their customers well, by name.

In 1949 Mr Gilroy took on Ray Brookes, who became a partner ten years later having served with a top city firm in the meantime. Ray, whose wife Valerie was almost as well known in the town as he was, in her role as secretary to the editor of the Aldershot News, made many friends and clients, before retiring as a partner in 1993 and living happily in retirement in Fleet.

In 1965 the current senior partner, Brian Green, joined the firm as an articled clerk to Mr Gilroy, and, after qualifying and time away, returned as a partner on April 1, 1975.

Mr Gilroy retired later that year and died in 2000 after a long retirement.

Gilroy and Brookes also has an office in Alton, which Brian heads, and which is also fast expanding. It wasn't always so: in the early years when he was sent down on Fridays to staff it nothing much happened.

He spent one happy afternoon listening to test match cricket before falling asleep, only to be woken by the phone at 6.30 - the first call to come in all day. "It was a wrong number," Brian recalled ruefully.

Brian, who is still involved with the Aldershot office, also had some adventures with the firm's van, in his early years with the partnership. "When I was first given use of it I managed to reverse it into the only other car in the local car park," he remembered.

He was almost as much of a danger in the offices, where one day he leant on the lock of a filing cabinet, only for it to snap shut, locking vital and urgently-needed files inside. The key being long-lost, a welder had to be hired to remove the top of the cabinet.

Now the files are mostly on computers as Laurie Powell ensures that the firm stays up with the latest technology.

This, and the superb new offices, will hopefully attract the new, young partner that the partnership is now seeking. With clients ranging from barristers to businesmen, subsidiaries of large companies and local tradespeople, the new man- or woman -will need to be adaptable, versatile and a Gilroy and Brookes sort of person. A bit understated, capable -and with a wry sense of humour.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
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