The Groundsman

July 2014

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he disciplines of serving in the armed forces are serving Adam Witchell well in his role as head groundsman at Beversbrook Sports Facility. His systematic approach to a wide range of turf maintenance issues – which includes major changes to the site's aeration practices - has helped the Calne (Wiltshire) based site win the IOG Industry Award for Grassroots Sports Ground of the Year 2013. Indeed, local football and cricket clubs are now queuing to join the 51 teams that use the facility as their home ground. And the site is used frequently: for season 2012/13, the nine football pitches accommodated 504 practice sessions and 440 matches; 31 cricket matches were staged; and 31 cricket training sessions were held on the artificial wickets. These figures will be exceeded in 2013/14 and such is the success of the site that Adam and team are now involved in the construction of four new pitches (two full size, one 9 x 9 and another for mini soccer) plus the installation of a new 3G surface and four new tennis courts. This burgeoning approval for the quality of the playing surfaces is spurred by a process of continual improvement at T Action stations at Beversbrook Having swapped a military career for groundsmanship, Adam Witchell is successfully actioning a strategic plan to continually improve Beversbrook Sports Facility By: Colin Hoskins the 95-acre multi-sports hub, where new turf maintenance processes have been introduced by Adam who, after leaving the Marines, spent five years on an 'apprenticeship' at a golf course in Wales before a brief foray into lawn care. "I must admit that during my first year here I was more interested in getting games played rather than considering the effect of the resulting wear and tear if play took place in unsuitable conditions," Adam reflects. "Of course, the priority is that the pitches have to be safe, but I learned a valuable lesson: patience. Today, however, I have a greater understanding of the site and as a result have formulated a routine to suit the demands. I actually consider the football pitches as my 'greens' and I try to present every pitch as well as a golf tee would be presented." Community hub Run by Calne Town Council - which part- funded the facility along with Sport England, the Football Foundation and waste contractor Viridor – Beversbrook is certainly a hub for the local community. In addition to football, cricket and tennis (four hard courts), the site also caters for archery (Adam created a shooting range on a formerly unused bank at the far side of the 'back field' pitches), table tennis, youth and adult choirs, a camera club, soft play, as well as classes for Slimming World, yoga, pilates and Zumba, plus an art group and cinema sessions, for example. Archery, running club and boot camp sessions occupied 239 hours during 2012/13, and 298 hours were spent on netball, tennis and five-a-side football. In the state-of-the-art pavilion, training and Adam has at his disposal a range of equipment: Kubota RTV 900, John Deere 4520 tractor, Jacobsen 305 ride-on mower, Sitrex Fleming 300 fertiliser spreader, Huxley multi- depth aerator slitter, Martin Lishman 6m boom sprayer, Charterhouse 7416 verti drain, Blec Turf Maker dimple seeder, Sisis Quadraplay, Ultra sand spreader, Dynamo 8 Teagle, Honda pedestrian mower, Stihl strimmer and two Fleet Kombi line markers. Machinery List IOG BEST PRACTICE 26 the Groundsman July 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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