Lilleshall National Sports Centre certainly provides a wide range of grounds maintenance challenges for estate manager Keith Fox and his team of ISS Waterers. ISS Waterers provide grounds maintenance services at the site through Leisure Connection plc to the principle client Sport England.
Lilleshall was originally built in 1831 as a hunting lodge and retreat for the Duke of Sutherland and his family. The site is now a National Centre of Sporting Excellence with residential and visiting users including the Football Association, British Gymnastics, The Grand National Archery Society and many other visiting sports teams.
The formal landscaped gardens are varied and quite beautiful. They include large grassed areas, an arboretum and an Italian garden. These are set in a secluded and spectacular setting. The site also boasts four purpose built football pitches with a further five natural pitches. There are also further grass training areas, a pitch and putt course, a bowling green and an artificial pitch all set within 370 acres of grounds.
The challenges faced by Keith are therefore extremely varied, therefore expertise and flexible working patterns in many areas is a key requirement. Juggling the requirements of formal areas and fine turf with the demands of winter sports and archery is no mean feat. Keith and his team have achieved exceptional results at the site. These high standards were rewarded with a British Association of Landscape Industries principle award for Multipurpose Site 2007.
Keith's commitment to quality of work and presentation at Lilleshall show an understanding of both landscape and sports turf maintenance in a unique setting. He is also full of praise for his team of four who share his enthusiasm and work ethic.
With all this responsibility and pressure for excellent results, Keith required grass seed mixtures that would provide high quality playing surfaces in the shortest possible time. "I always choose highly rated varieties," states Keith. "I realised that the Johnsons grass seed mixtures had an excellent combination of top rated varieties and the added benefit of being Turf Guard treated. The establishment of the grasses was quick, uniform and provided resilient wear tolerant, attractive swards. In particular Pitchmaster mixture has provided excellent results. I have been very pleased with Johnsons seeds and appreciate the interest and technical input on site from the company."