Turf Tank brings mental health boost to Dollar Academy grounds team

Blair Fergusonin Schools & Colleges

Initial marking for athletics and other sports used to be a source of anxiety and stress at Dollar Academy, but since using the Turf Tank One, the mindset of the team has been positively transformed.

Situated in the town of Dollar, Central Scotland, the co-educational day and boarding school occupies a 70-acre site at the base of the Ochil Hills. It is there Head of Grounds, John Vaughan-Davis, and his team strive to provide the best surfaces possible for the 1300 children aged 5-18.

A significant part of that task is pitch presentation and line marking. Previously, the job of initial line marking for athletics, in particular, brought a lot of stress to the team, creating a negative environment to work in. But with the Turf Tank robot at their disposal, that's all changed.

"I think the mental health of our team has improved because of the Turf Tank," John begins. "Historically, leading up to athletics marking, initial rugby marking, and football initial markings, there's always been a bit of anxiety, a bit of stress, and it was a really, really anxious environment to be around.

"Now that we've got the Turf Tank, it's completely changed the team's mindset. It's gone from being tense to just relaxed and having faith and trust in the Turf Tank. It just eased everyone's concerns. It's made a much better working environment for all of us, leading up to those points by removing an added stress and taking it away.

"So mental health is probably one of the biggest benefits that I'm not sure people talk about enough."

As well as benefitting the existing team, John has also seen an impact when recruiting. In his experience, the use of innovative technology has interested potential candidates and should be used as a tool to attract people into the industry.

By attracting new staff and boosting the morale of the existing team, the Turf Tank is helping John achieve his goals for the site and add finishes like school logos and numbers on rugby pitches, which they couldn't do without the robot.

"Having pride in what we do reflects across the whole school, and that's very much at the core of our working process," John explains.

"We want to try and produce the best pitches that we can in the conditions we are given, and the Turf Tank certainly helps us present the pitches in the best way possible.

"We can't do a lot of the things that the Turf Tank does by hand. For example, the numbers that we did today, the school badge or a lacrosse pitch at short notice that we can now do within 20 minutes. We've marked small football pitches for charity days and other events that we couldn't have done without the Turf Tank.

"So for us to produce the best pitches we can is one thing, but being able to do things on short notice is another thing that we keep on having to do. The Turf Tank takes all the pressure off of that element of it, but also knowing that when we do put it out, it's going to do a 100% job.

"It is correct every single time we put that machine out, it's spot on. Regardless of the event, it is always, always 100% right."