The Groundsman

April 2012

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36 FEATURE the Groundsman April 2012 Les Gibbs: the groundsman's groundsman Will Collins talked to Les Gibbs and soon realised why the affable Welshman is the worthy winner of the 2011 IOG Groundsman's Groundsman of the Year Award Describing his greatest achievement as "actually discovering groundsmanship", Les Gibbs is responsible for the University of Glamorgan's 32-acre Sport Ground site; 22 acres of sports pitches and the remaining area including car parking, lawns and grass banks as well as 4,200 trees – the management and maintenance of which all fall under his remit. As Grounds Manager, the job clearly carries much responsibility: • He manages a groundscare team of seven (four permanent and three casual); • He derives (and subsequently manages) the annual machinery replacement and grounds maintenance plans – the latter includes specifying (then monitoring) any work carried out by contractors (all end-of-season annual renovations are contracted out); • He writes and implements health and safety policy; • He is responsible for risk assessments, COSHH, manual handling, inventory, equipment/ancillary items quotations and ordering; plus • Hygiene levels in the pavilion changing rooms, and • Staff induction, training, appraisal (twice a year) and mentoring. With such a job description, it is no surprise to learn that paperwork could easily occupy Les for every working hour! "Compare that with the role of a 'conventional' Head Groundsman who I guess could spend around 30 per cent of his time on paperwork," Les comments. He has been a keen advocate of training and education ever since he entered the industry after his aspirations to become an apprentice fitter were dashed through lack of opportunities in the Valleys and a brief spell as a factory worker. Photo: Will Collins

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