2014 has been a much improved year, financially, for most. Talking to companies from all sections of our industry, the mood has been upbeat and customers have more budget to spend on improvements and developments.
Many mothballed projects, held off during the recession, have now been completed, improving sports surfaces for everyone. Let's hope that, here in the UK, at least, we can continue with our economic growth, enabling the natural turf industry to be buoyant once again.
Recently, I attended the Racecourse Association's (RCA) Showcase Awards at Haydock Park. This was the second year that the event had included their Groundstaff Awards, which we have sponsored together with Watt Fences, for the past six years. I was delighted to present the overall award to the groundstaff team from Plumpton Racecourse, in front of over two hundred Chairmen, Managers, Clerks of Course and industry guests.
It is credit to the RCA that the inclusion of this award is at their main Showcase evening, recognising and highlighting the importance of the groundstaff teams within the horseracing industry. My congratulations to all the groundsmen and women who were nominated and/or won - the plaudits are richly deserved!
Whilst we look forward to the New Year, 2014 has been one of sporting triumphs which highlighted our natural turf excellence; from the involvement of many UK companies in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil to the home-hosted tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, not forgetting our annual events including the Six Nations, Wimbledon and the Open Championship, this year at Royal Liverpool.
We are very blessed with a rich array of sporting facilities, all of which require the highest standards in turf maintenance to allow the world's finest to shine.
The quality of the surface is not only paramount for promotion of sporting excellence, but also player safety and the development of youngsters coming into sport, which is why the governing bodies need to make sure that there is adequate investment in terms of training and resources available to groundsmen and greenkeepers.
As an industry, and this is something I've said on numerous occasions, we need a unified voice to promote all the attributes of natural turf to make sure that it remains the firm favourite of all participating players and providers. The Government, governing bodies of sport, local authorities, clubs and schools all have crucial roles to play in this. Aided by the enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise we have in our sports turf industry, there is no reason whatsoever why we cannot provide quality grass surfaces for all levels of participation, from grassroots and upwards.
More on this topic in my article which will feature on the website early in the new year.
On a final positive note, can I wish all of you a very prosperous and Happy New Year.