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A South West accountancy firm which advises almost all the GB Olympic sailing squad has recruited a double Paralympic bronze medallist to its ranks.
Niki Birrell, who represented ParalympicsGB at three consecutive Paralympic Games, has joined the Poole office of PKF Francis Clark as a graduate accountancy trainee.
The 31-year old sailor has enjoyed considerable success over the last 15 years including winning bronze medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics.
However, he said it was time now to – in his words – “settle down and concentrate on my career.”
Niki, who was born with cerebral palsy, added:
“PKF Francis Clark has given me a fantastic opportunity which I’m really looking forward to embracing.
“I have no illusions about the work required to qualify but I’m a very determined character. It’s going to be a tough few years with no fewer than 15 exams to sit before I qualify but I’m fully up for the challenge.”
PKF Francis Clark Partner Martin Aldridge, a former windsurfing world champion, said the firm considered Niki a “great catch.”
“All the personal attributes that have made him such a successful Paralympian will serve him very well in his new chosen career. We’re delighted to welcome him on board,” he added.
Niki began sailing at a young age after being introduced to the sport by his father. He and his brother Christian became a competing pair and in 2002 they were selected for the British team in the 420 class.
Together with long-term sailing partner Alexandra Rickham, Niki narrowly missed out on a podium place at his Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008.
They took part in London 2012 as reigning World Champions winning bronze and helping the ParalympicsGB team to secure its most successful sailing performance since 2000.
At Rio 2016, Niki and Alexandra succeeded in winning bronze in a highly competitive field. The pair have now won five World Championship titles in their class.
PKF Francis Clark has built up a considerable practice in recent years supporting professional sports people and elite athletes with accountancy, taxation, financial planning and business advice.
As well as most of the GB Olympic sailing team, the firm also advises Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover team for the America’s Cup.
It also advises participants in professional sports including football, rugby, athletics, cricket, golf, horse racing and equestrian, both in the UK and overseas.
The firm was a finalist in the ‘Best Professional Services Firm in Sport’ category of the Sports Business Awards 2017.