A PROMINENT business is celebrating its 100th anniversary by raising thousands of pounds in a series of charity projects.

Accountancy firm Princecroft Willis is aiming to do something for charity in each month of its centenary.

For its most recent event, it enlisted its best known client, Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie, for a dinner and auction which raised more than £16,000 for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

The event involved 120 clients and contacts and took place at the Royal Motor Yacht Club in Sandbanks, Poole.

Princecroft Willis partner Martin Aldridge said: “Sir Ben Ainslie is a long-standing client of Princecroft Willis, and the South Coast has a strong sailing heritage, supporting many of our clients in the marine sector, so when we looked for a charity to benefit from our centenary dinner, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation was an easy and very worthy choice.”

The firm, based at Parkstone Road, Poole, and Christchurch Road, New Milton, decided to step up its social responsibility work in its centenary, with much fundraising based on a ‘100’ theme.

Managing partner Mark Johns said: “We were trying to do something for charity every month and we got the message out to the teams. There was a lot of enthusiasm about that.”

The firm’s eight partners in Poole and two in New Milton are each giving at least 10 hours to community projects, including the YMCA, Lewis-Manning Hospice and Cherry Tree Nursery.

Six staff became the Village People for a Stars In Their Eyes-style contest at Ferndown, raising more than £1,000 for Lewis-Manning and Wessex Cancer Trust.

Sixteen Poole staff have been taking part in a challenge to lose 100 pounds between them in as many days for Dorset Mind, while 14 in New Milton have been doing the same for Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington.

The name Princecroft Willis dates from a merger in 2005 between two long-standing Bournemouth practices.

The elder was Willis Parsons, which had begun as Howard Willis in 1914 and was later known as Howard Willis Parsons & Co and Willis Parsons English & Co, incorporating Roston Bourke along the way. The second was Princecroft Redman, which had begun in 1925 as Prince Croft & Co and had incorporated Redman & Roker in 1999.

The company employs 126 people at its two offices and some of its clients go back generations.