Commitment to the cause in Yorkshire
By Laurence Gale MSc
Whilst at this year's Saltex show I was introduced to David Robinson, the Chairman of the West Yorkshire/ Leeds branch of the Institute of Groundsmanship. We had a chat about the turf grass industry and how it was changing, which led to conversations about education and training and promoting the work of individuals and raising the profile of their facilities but, more importantly, about seeking recognition for the role they play in managing those facilities.
This led to an invitation from David to go to Yorkshire to meet some of his members who are actively promoting and serving the industry well, often working under limiting conditions. Well, thinking that he was managing a sports ground/facility, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself meeting up with David at his place of work, which happened to be Skipton Castle.
David's official title is Grounds Manager, responsible for the management and maintenance of both buildings and grounds. He has been in post for ten years and currently has three part time staff working for him. One of his main jobs is maintaining the lawn areas, ensuring that they are well striped and manicured because they are the first thing visitors see on the approach to the castle.
The castle is open every day so David and his team have to ensure it is always looking its best. A lot of time and resources are put into maintaining the lawns, with aeration, top dressing and feeding to keep them in good condition. They take a lot of wear from the visitors who picnic and run about on the grass.
The castle is unusual in that it is still privately owned. The present owners bought the castle in 1956 and over the years have restored and invested money into making it into one of the best attractions in Yorkshire. In fact, the family still live in parts of the castle.
David has always had an interest in Groundsmanship. Prior to working at the castle he had his own building business and worked as a volunteer groundsman at Wharfdale Rugby Club, where his interest in Groundsmanship became an obsession. David has been on countless training and education seminars and has been activity promoting Groundsmanship through his post with the IOG.
Whilst up in Yorkshire David took me to see some interesting people and facilities. He introduced me to Antony Asquith from the Chapel Allerton Tennis Club, John Beswick from Barnoldswick Football Club, Alverley Ashworth, who has recently retired as head groundsman at Rolls Royce's Sports and Leisure Club in Barnsoldwick, and finally to Whafedale Rugby Club where I met up with Roger Toseland the current grounds manager for the club.
It was a very interesting and useful experience to meet so many willing and committed people who are dedicated to promoting, managing and maintaining natural grass sports facilities.
David Can be contacted at Skipton Castle on 01756 792442.
Tel 01756 792442 (+44 1756 792442)
Fax 01756 796100 (+44 1756 796100)
Web site www.skiptoncastle.co.uk/