Bernhard and Company - manufacturer of Bernhard Grinders, the world's finest blade sharpening systems for turf cutting machines - announce that Rugby School has just taken delivery of a Bernhard grinding system. This famous school, the birth place of rugby football, sits in the centre of the Midlands town of Rugby, a stone's throw from the offices of Bernhard.
Head of Maintenance, Grounds Manager, James Mead said, "I had the machines on demo for some time and was very impressed with them. They are easy to use and worked well with the machinery we have got, so when we were updating the workshop we decided to buy our own machines. They are very clean and efficient to use and I also like the local connections with Bernhard. That is important."
James has been at Rugby school now for coming up to ten years. His entire professional career has been spent in public schools. "I have always loved and played cricket and football and thought after school that I'd go into sports or farming. I did a 4 year apprenticeship with the City of Birmingham at Kings Heath College and when I'd finished I got a job at Harborne Cricket Club. From there, my career with schools began.
I was at King Edwards in Birmingham for 15 years followed by nearly ten years at Millfield, the famous sporting school in Somerset; then on to Rugby in early 2000.
Schools are wonderful places to work. I love coming in each morning, it's such a lovely place. We are always busy, 7 days a week in the spring and summer, down to 6 the rest of the year round."
The school has a team of 20 staff in the maintenance department. 7 are dedicated to sports turf and other 13 are responsible for taking care of the grounds and gardens. There are 14 boarding houses all with their own gardens as well as the large public areas of the school, so a total of 300 acres to keep in pristine condition.
I asked James what it is he likes about working in a public school environment.
"I love the school environment with the constant variety of so many sports and it's an endless challenge to deliver the best playing surfaces for every one.
I am very appreciative because schools like this have always stood by sport. They have never let it go, they never let the standards drop and they put the investment and backing into it so it is always the highest quality. We have everything from two polo grounds, 14 rugby and soccer pitches, cricket, netball, hockey, and short game golf. All of these need careful management and time. Most importantly it is what people see first and it is a reflection of the whole school.
Cricket takes up all week for almost half the year. As well as the school cricket we have all the Warwickshire games and the International Country Cricket, so we are preparing the ground a month in advance. This year it was Kent in the pro 50, last year Glamorgan in the T20 game.
We had 4,000 people in the ground for the Glamorgan game. It's so lovely to have full capacity and to see such quality play and the weather was great.
Sadly this summer we weren't so lucky. It rained heavily with the tail end of the Atlantic hurricane so very disappointing for everyone as we had a sell out on tickets. The irony was, it was sunny and dry either side of the day.
We are busy all year round.
"Our busiest time of the year is in the summer when the school enterprise department fill every space. We have Thames Valley Sports Club weeks, the Leicester Tiger's Rugby Club training and Manchester United Soccer Camps, who come in the Spring half term and in the Summer every day for a couple of months. These are busy, structured courses with kids from all over the world and the camps are very professionally run and managed."
2015 World Cup Rugby means plenty of visits to the birth place of the game.
"This year is a bit special for Rugby School with the 2015 World Cup Rugby, and to coincide with that the focus on the school will be intense.
We were very proud to welcome Johnny Wilkinson and Prince Harry who recently visited our hallowed pitches for a photo shoot, and we will be welcoming many players during the next 12 months who I am sure we will have some light training days going on along side the photo shoots. Everyone is very welcome. The school has 3 full time tour guides who show parties around every day."
Executive Chairman of Bernhard, Stephen Bernhard said, "Rugby School is one of those institutions that just IS. Wherever one looks around this famous school, one has to be impressed with the immaculate level of maintenance that is constantly being carried out. Their parks, gardens and sporting facilities receive the same quality investment and it shows.
Having worked with several successive Head Masters over many years while serving as a Governor, the relationship with Rugby School has become a matter of pride mixed with pleasure. Living as a neighbour within the curtilage of the school gives me a special interest in their success.
I'm naturally delighted that James and his team have the confidence in Bernhard grinders to equip their own workshops. We pride ourselves in providing a special level of personal service and at Rugby School that is especially important if we are to meet their exacting standards."
James added, "It's a good year for us to take on our own grinders. You could say we are keeping sharp for the birth place of Rugby football."