Ashley Gill bought his first business at the tender age of 12. As a lad in Whitehaven, Cumbria, young Ashley borrowed £25 from his mother to secure a paper round serving about 6000 people. The entrepreneurial streak ran through the Gill family: Ashley’s father was a joiner, builder and undertaker, while his mother had her own hairdressing business.
Ashley learned basic principles on the job, buying the papers direct from the wholesalers and then selling at a profit. He soon had a pretty good idea of how the world worked. Academically, Ashley enjoyed success in some subjects more than others.
“I was top of the class in maths and technical drawing, but near the bottom in English,” he recalls. “They wanted me to go to the grammar school and work towards becoming an architect, but when they said I’d need A-Level English I kicked that idea into touch.”
Ashley left school at the age of 15 and started serving his time as a joiner. The following year he sold his newspaper business to his brother. When he had fully served his joinery apprenticeship, Ashley went to Holland to work for two years. The plan was to save up money so that he and his then fiancée, Linda, could get married and build their first house so, while he was in Holland, Ashley spent most of his time living in a tent to cut costs.
That first house was built in 12 months as a part time project while Ashley worked for another construction company. The Gills eventually built and lived in three different houses on the same crescent.
“After building a new vicarage for the church, I bought the old one to renovate. Linda and I and our three children have lived in it for the last 27 years.” In 1978, Ashley and his brother, Neville started their own building firm, Gill Brothers. Despite some hard times during recessions and times of austerity, the company is still going strong today.
“I bought my first private number plate, AHG 900, from Regtransfers,” Ashley says. “I had that until 1988 when 1 AHG became available, also from Regtransfers. I was able to purchased the number in a part exchange deal for £8500. At the time it was a lot of money and I can remember my accountant asking me how much I had spent on the number; he couldn’t believe it! I told him it would be all right and now, some 27 years on, my purchase looks like a good one. The other version, AHG 1, has just been up for sale for £40k.
“I have always loved my Mercs and, looking back on how much I have lost on my cars over the years, what a great investment I made in my number plate, which I’m sure has steadily increased in value, unlike my cars. Two years ago I bought L1 AHG from Regtransfers and put it on our German motor home. It looks great side by side with our Mercedes ML 350 AMG. “We’ve enjoyed having these number plates on our vehicles but, with regret, we have to sell them because we are retiring to Australia and can’t take them with us.”