When Anna Ashton left school in 1984, the last thing on her mind was to become an estate agent.

But almost four decades later, she can't imagine life without the cut and thrust of helping people buy and sell the property of their dreams.

""Yes, life is extremely busy as estate agency involves a minefield of information which has to be passed on correctly to the customer. But then you have the tremendous satisfaction of visting people's beautiful houses and introducing them to potential buyers," she says.  "I really woudn't have it any other way."

Anna moved to Carmarthenshire with her parents in 1983. "I was still in school but only stayed there for a year as it was so, so different from my previous school in Kent."

So Anna joined the Clarke's shoe shop in Carmarthen where she soon discovered the natural rapport she shared with her customers.

In 1985 however, she applied for a job with an indepedent estate agent in Carmarthen and never looked back.  "I started at the very bottom, filing, making tea, listening to what everyone else was doing and I was very fortunate in that the manager was an extremely particular lady who expected us to deal with customers in a certain way.  I learnt a lot from her."

Anna stayed with the company until 1989 when she gave birth to her first child.  But in 1991 the property market beckoned once again and Anna joined the staff of the Carmarthen branch of John Francis.

 "It was a much smaller company in those days which was nice," she continues  "I've never worked for a big conglomerate and to be perfectly honest, I don't think I'd like to.  I'm quite a self-motivated person who likes to make sure that everything is done properly.  My purpose is to sell houses and to give the customer the best service possible."

In 1999 Anna left John Francis to work with Ammanford estate agency Mallards.  "I loved my job as branch manager but then, when the director decided to retire, I was left wondering what to do.  I couldn't become a director as I couldn't afford to buy into the company so this was when I realised the only other option was to set up my own business."

In 2017, Anna set up Anna Ashton. "When I saw those first signs with my name written all over them, I hated it," she laughs.  "I'm not an attention-seeking person and it felt so wrong.  But to be honest, a large percentage of my customers feel more comfortable dealing with a woman and they find it easier to talk to us.  But I've had five years to get used to those signs with my name splashed all over them and it's definitely getting easier."

One can't help wondering whether Anna wished she had established her own business sooner?

"No, simply because I'd never considered it.  I'd always been perfectly happy working for other people and this was a great advantage as I'd worked alongside some extremely knowledgeable people who taught me so much.  I'm not a surveyor, but I still know quite a bit about the structure of buildings sinply because of someone I'd previously worked with.  Customers ask so many questions but I always feel confdident to answer them and offer them advice when it's required."

Anna is joined in the office by a team of five, including her daughter Rebekah and partner Trevor.

"I really can't imagine doing anything else, and the good thing is, because I'm my own boss I've got the freedom to do whatever I want.  If my computer is too slow I can buy a new one and if I want fancy new windows in the shop I can get them.  I wouldn't change it for the world."