Ellesmere College is a co-educational private school for 7 to 18 year olds based in rural north Shropshire, with a strong commitment to sport and other extra-curricular activities. Two new John Deere machines, the first ever bought by the school, are already making their presence felt on the extensive grounds and nine-hole golf course.
Ian Morris, the school's head groundsman for the past 30 years, chose a John Deere 500 triple cylinder mower and 220C walk-behind greens mower (pictured working in the college grounds) after a lengthy review of machines on the market, and bought them from dealer Charlies Groundcare at Newtown in Powys earlier this year.
Ian, who is a member of the local IoG Shropshire branch committee and is also Midlands region chairman, manages a team of eight staff looking after 75 acres of grounds. The school has recently bought another 75 acres and hopes to establish a bigger golf course and an extra 17 acres of sports fields in due course. In addition to the existing golf course, there are three cricket squares, 14 grass cricket nets, up to seven rugby or football pitches and two grass hockey pitches, as well as six hard tennis courts.
"We needed to replace another triple mower that was nine years old, so I spent several months looking at half a dozen or so different machines," says Ian Morris. "In terms of value for money, the dealership back-up and service, and the company background in general, we decided the John Deere 500 was the best machine for the school.
"This is used primarily on the golf course surrounds and all the college lawns. We cut pretty regularly so we don't bother boxing off, the grass clippings all go back into the ground, but the mower still leaves a nice clean finish.
"We also wanted a dedicated greens mower for the golf course, as we had always shared one with the cricket squares before," adds Ian. "The 220C, which is fitted with a groomer, has already improved the greens no end, and the operator is very happy with it. He tried a few different makes when we were looking around, and quickly settled on this one.
"We have had a few cylinders that needed regrinding - you do get loose studs and other bits of debris now and again that you don't spot till it's too late - but I was very impressed with how quickly Charlies dealt with the problem," says Ian. "I've seen how the dealership has built itself up over the years, and even though they're relatively new to the professional groundscare business, I was very happy to deal with them, especially knowing John Deere's behind them."